One of my most popular blog entries was my post “A Brief Thought On Dietary Laws” where I explained that religious dietary laws are, at their heart, intended to serve as a reminder of our faith, community, and need for spiritual as well as physical nourishment.
The post received a lot of very warm feedback as well as some critical feedback - both of which I appreciate.
Of the critical feedback, most centered on the idea that kosher (or halal, etc.) dietary laws were outdated, archaic, and unnecessary. They had been creations of another time and, presumably, served a purpose long ago that is no longer relevant today. Some related dietary laws to slavery, restricting our free will and ability to fully enjoy the world around us.
However, are dietary laws really so foreign and out-dated?
Case in point: at present, the British and greater European media are widely reporting on what has been dubbed the Horse Meat Scandal. Apparently, the supply chains of many major food producers has become corrupted and what was marketed and sold as beef was, indeed, all or partially horse meat.
The public has been outraged.
But why? Horse meat is clean and safe - there’s no indication of anything to the contrary. Nobody was ever in harm’s way and, to my knowledge, nobody even complained about the taste of the food.
The answer is because all people - even the most fiercely secular - have established dietary codes. People have boundaries related to their consumption of food for a variety of reasons. Some animals - in this case, horses - are held to be above the human food chain and, thus, quasi-immoral to consume.
So, are dietary laws really as outdated and irrelevant as they may seem to the outside world? Judging by the headlines in the European newspaper, I suspect not.