Political lessons learned from the prohibition of mixing milk and meat

We do not know the ultimate reasons for mitzvot, but we certainly can search for the lessons they teach about our lives. The separation of meat and milk is a profound concept.

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed,

מצווה. הרב מלמד
מצווה. הרב מלמד
פלאש 90

In a previous article, I began developing the idea arising out of the prohibition of cooking milk and meat, according to which it is forbidden to mix considerations of different magnitudes. I will now attempt to examine the terrible damage this sort of mixing causes the state of affairs of various nations.

In order to understand the matter properly, we must first review some of the uniqueness of this prohibition: meat alone is kosher, milk alone is kosher, but together, they are explicitly and strictly forbidden, for not only is such a mixture forbidden to be eaten, it is also forbidden to cook milk and meat for a non-Jew, and it is forbidden to receive benefit from such a mixture. Our Sages went even further and added a ‘sayag’ (a safeguard, or ‘fence’) to this serious prohibition, and forbade eating milk after having eaten meat. They even went as far as to prohibit a person eating meat to have milk on the table at the same time, or vice versa, lest he forget and eat them together. We see, therefore, that our Sages found it necessary to strongly reinforce the separation of meat and milk.

Meat is considered a food for adults. Its’ preparation to be eaten is complex and complicated involving ritual slaughter; milk, on the other hand, is basically considered a food for infants, whose preparation and consumption is simple. Meat represents considerable and complex existential considerations, while milk expresses relatively small and simple considerations. Each one of them in its place is good and proper, but a person who mixes them confuses judgment and destroys the moral capacity to examine the world appropriately and work to repair it.

The Left’s Concept of Equality

The major sin of the ideological Left is that it equates and mixes everything together – questions of lesser magnitude about the conditions of individual’s lives, with the big questions about the very existence of life and death. They also equate and mix relatively small questions about salaries and profits, with existential questions about the basic motivation of an individual to initiate and develop.

The first motivation is, of course, positive. There are many problematic injustices in the world – exploiters who earn more than they deserve, and hard-working people who are underpaid. But the attempt to solve all the problems in one formula that equates everyone’s rights and financial status, while doing away with all elements hindering this one-dimensional equality – such as religious faith, personal talents, and free enterprise – is a terribly simplistic solution with disastrous results.

Like in the sin of cooking milk with meat in which everything gets spoiled, countries that were ruled by an exceptionally problematic monarchy, and rebelled, often went on to a dreadful dictatorship that damaged the lives and basic rights of the individual far beyond what they had previously experienced (similar to the spoilage of meat), and also affected the quality of life of all the residents (spoilage of the milk). This is still occurring in North Korea.

The Experience of Russia and China

In Russia, people began realizing that the attempt at communism had led to disastrous harm in their personal lives and rights, but upon taking leave of communism, the Russian’s erred by mixing considerations of dissimilar degrees. Instead of first worrying about life itself, preserving governmental and social stability and orderly economic life (in the sense of ‘meat’) and in a gradual and moderate process release more individual rights (in the sense of ‘milk’), they treated everything equally, and created terrible chaos.

The result of the early years was appalling: Unemployment soared, all sectors of industrial and agricultural production plummeted, crime ran rampant, millions of children and youth became homeless and began roaming the streets searching for food and alcohol, and the ill failed to receive treatment due to a lack of medicines and medical equipment. Life expectancy dropped by nearly ten years.

Although formally the situation of human rights was excellent, life itself was appalling. For more than ten years they have tried to reverse the damage caused by affording full and unchecked rights, and in most areas they have not been able to return to the general standard of living that prevailed in the Soviet Union before its dissolution.

By contrast, in China they also realized that the communist system had failed, but there, they are conducting a gradual process of unchaining the economy and burden of government. Life expectancy is on the rise, the economy is growing, people are not dying of starvation, and law is maintained (in the sense of ‘meat’ being kosher). True, China’s human rights record is horrendous (in the sense of ‘milk’ being spoiled), but it is in a constant process of moderate improvement, hopefully with the objective of developing a leadership that can lead the country to prosperity, freedom and liberty, in accordance with Chinese tradition.

South Africa

An additional example of the terrible consequences of mixing milk with meat can be learned from the experience of South Africa. Undeniably, the discrimination against black people there was terrible and cruel, and the white regime should have worked vigorously and wisely to improve their situation until they reached complete equality. But it should not have been forgotten that the white government maintained law and order, and provided sustenance and healthcare on a relatively high level for all of the population. Rectifying discrimination is in the sense of ‘milk’, compared with life itself, which is in the sense of ‘meat’.

However leftist groups, with good intentions, provoked fury throughout Western countries to condemn and boycott South Africa. When confronted with the argument that a radical change would hurt the very existence of the organized and responsible regime, as our Sages said: “Pray for the welfare of the government, because if people had no fear of it, they would swallow each other alive” (Avodah Zara 4a), they replied: ‘Nothing justifies prejudice and discrimination, and it is the duty of every moral person to fight against them with all their might to change at once and essentially, the legal status of the blacks.’ By doing so, they cooked meat with milk. The abysmal results were summarized by the journalist Adi Garsiel in his column in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, Dec. 12, 2013:

“Every day in South Africa 50 people are murdered. In other words, every three days more people are killed there than in Israel in a year. And even when comparing the statistics by population size (in South Africa there about 53 million inhabitants), the results are gloomy: The murder rate there is 15 times higher than in Israel. In a survey conducted four years ago, 25% of men admitted to having participated in a rape. According to one estimate, there are half a million rapes annually in the country. The AIDS epidemic is rampant there, with approximately 5.5 million residents suffering from the virus, or carriers of it. The unemployment situation is bleak: 28% of the work force in South Africa is unemployed (approximately 50% of young people are out of work). Rampant crime has caused a mass exodus of one million white residents. Many of those who remained, including the country’s Jewish population, live in fortified compounds and secluded neighborhoods.”

“For the past twenty years, life expectancy in South Africa has declined by about 15 years on average. In 1992, the last year of apartheid, life expectancy of the general population stood at 64.5; twenty years later, it stood at 49.5 – the second-to-last place out of more than 220 countries."

Everyone suffered, and still suffers, from the implementation of equality in an uncontrolled manner; the blacks were hurt more than the whites. First and foremost, life and order should have been maintained in spite all the problems (in the sense of ‘meat’), while at the same time, work to gradually improve the conditions and rights of the blacks (in the sense of ‘milk’) would proceed.

The Obscene Words of the Deputy Chief of Staff

The remarks of the Deputy Chief of Staff on Holocaust Remembrance Day, according to which he sees developments in Israeli society that are reminiscent of the years before the Holocaust, also violated the mixing of milk with meat. One can criticize various symptoms in Israeli society, but to compare them to Nazi Germany is an appalling crime.

How can one compare, or even find a similarity, between the Nazi beliefs, which called for the need to eradicate an entire people from the face of the earth and subjugate scores of nations, fixed these evil positions in legislation and even mobilized the German people and its cohorts to wage war achieve them –  to the situation of the State of Israel, which has found itself in a battle of survival against the Arab enemy for over a hundred years during which from time-to-time, a minute number of individuals unfortunately break the law and carry out criminal acts against the Arabs.

Leftists like to equate everything by saying: “Murder, is murder, is murder.” This is not true! There is a difference between murder stemming from a systematic worldview and supported by a broad population, and murder stemming from violent individuals whom all of society condemns.

The Moral Abyss between Israel and the Arabs

The gap between Israeli and Arab society is beyond belief. The so-called moderate Arab leaders (PA), award payments to families of terrorists and name city squares and streets after them. Key elements in Arab society support parts of the Nazi ideology. The Mufti, who became the role model for them, passionately joined in support of the Nazis and in a meeting with Hitler, may his name be blotted out, requested that when Germany conquered the Land of Israel, the Arabs would be given the right to kill and annihilate all the Jews. By contrast, in Israeli society there is not one group of people that supports the murder of Arabs not within the framework of the army nor in a war of defense.

Nevertheless, the Deputy Chief of Staff uttered these slanderous remarks. He is probably used to reading such vile things in the Haaretz newspaper, to the point where they have become standard for him, without giving thought to their awful meaning, and that’s why he said such despicable things in his speech. Had he understood the severity of what he said, he would have realized the need to apologize and resign, or at the very least, regret and apologize publicly and completely to the Jewish people.

The Left’s Mistake in Relation to Islam

The world is currently facing a severe threat posed by ideological and violent Muslim activism. In order to deal with it properly, we must realize that we are talking about a wide-ranging clash of cultures, which, to a certain extent, necessitates treatment similar to that of rules for times of emergency. In spite of this, leftist intellectuals still equate and mix-up the overall threat with that of individual crimes, and as a result, attempts to protect the rights of individual Muslims impairs the ability of the West and the moderate forces in Islam to fight and curb extremist Islam.

Consequently, the whole of society is damaged and ruined. Islamic fighters are strengthened by this to continue to sabotage, harm, destroy and demolish, and in the meantime, the living conditions and individual rights in all countries suffer – it begins in Islamic countries, and is spreading with waves of immigration to Western countries and unspeakable terrorist attack as well.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at: http://en.yhb.org.il/






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