Kashrut Themes and Theology
Maimonides also concurred with the suggestion, offered before his time and since, that the strictures of kashrut are intended to curb our appetites, not only for medical reasons but also as a part of a more general effort as self-improvement, by inculcating habits and traits of self-restraint.
Interpreters of the Bible as far back as rabbinic times have explained some dietary laws as expressing compassion for animals. The prohibition on cooking a kid in its mother's milk was understood this way by the thinker Philo in first-century Alexandria, and by some medieval commentators. Such an explanation is also offered for the prohibition against slaughtering both parent and offspring on one day, the requirement that a mother bird be chased away before any of its young are taken from the nest, and other biblical laws. This principle was applied in the rabbinic rules for slaughtering, which were designed to hasten the animal's unconsciousness and its death, sparing it pain.
Finally, some interpreters of Judaism in modern times have presented the observance of kashrut first and foremost as a means of living in accord with the divine will. This is a theme well understood by the classic rabbinic sage who directed his adherents not to express disgust with nonkosher food. He advised them instead to say, "I want it! I want it! But the Holy One has declared it off-limits."
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