the origins of food prohibitions

the origins of food prohibitions

Although there are many food prohibitions in monotheistic religions, they do not summarize the central place of food, and its many symbolisms, in Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

What do a shrimp, a whelk, a pig and a hare have in common? You will never see them on the table of Orthodox Jews, those who follow kashrut to the letter, that is to say the dietary rules taken from the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, supplemented by the rabbinical opinions transcribed in the Talmud. Jewish law (halakha) prohibits the consumption of pork. (because he has a split hoof without being a ruminant) but also insects and a whole list of poultry (ostrich, seagull, stork…) as well as all shellfish and crustaceans (because they don't have scales or fins).

For meats that can be consumed, it also imposes ritual slaughter. “The deeper meaning of these dietary rules is difficult to determine,” agrees Bruno Fiszon, chief rabbi of Metz and Moselle. When we eat food according to the rules of kashrut, we are consuming a divine commandment. Food then has a mystical dimension: we believe that we are, in some way, what we eat. » This is why the consumption of blood, sciatic nerve, certain fats or more simply animals deemed unclean is so serious under Jewish Law. However, Judaism's relationship with food is not limited to a list of prohibitions. “Most Jewish holidays are celebrated around the table,” notes Bruno Fiszon.

Food, as vectors of Jewish identity and faith

During Pessah, the Jewish Passover, Jews, for example, eat very symbolic foods: the matsoths (unleavened matzo breads) recall the hasty flight from Egypt, bitter herbs (celery, endive, horseradish, etc.) recall the bitterness of slavery. Every Friday evening, Shabbat begins with a sanctification of the day over a cup of wine (kiddush). “It’s a very powerful moment,” says the rabbi. “Foods, like this cup of wine, are vectors of Jewish identity and faith. They have allowed Judaism to preserve itself over the centuries.”

Shehita, ritual slaughter in Judaism

Ritual slaughter in Judaism (shehita) meets stricter criteria than in Islam. The animal must be slaughtered by a shohet, a professional, who cuts the trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries and jugular veins with a special knife. The animal must be conscious during its throat slitting. This ritual slaughter is a departure – which is not without debate – from French law, which since the decree of April 16, 1964 provides for the obligation to stun animals before slaughtering them.

Among Christians, no food is “impure”

In the Gospels, Jesus very directly opposes these dietary rules: “Listen to me, everyone, and understand well. Nothing that is external to man and which enters into him can make him impure. But what comes out of man, that is what makes man impure (…). For it is from within, from the heart of man, that perverse thoughts come out. » (Mk 7, 15-21.) And the Gospel of Mark drives the point home: “This is how Jesus declared all foods clean. » There is no longer any question, in Christianity, of applying to the letter the prohibitions of the book of Leviticus.

“Jewish dietary rules have certainly been put into perspective,” agrees Father Luc Forestier, theologian at the Catholic Institute of Paris. But we find in Christianity an emphasis on the meal which comes to us from Judaism. » Wedding at Cana, meal with the tax collector, multiplication of the loaves, final meal with the disciples… Jesus, according to the Gospels, spent a lot of time at the table! “

Fasting, present in Judaism, Islam & Christianity.

The Gospel of Matthew (Mt 4:1-11), however, relates a completely different experience, that of Christ's fast in the desert “for forty days and forty nights”. We find this time of food deprivation in all three religious traditions. “Fasting is above all a worship, we do it not to lose weight, but for God,” explains Abdelmalik Sinet, president of the association of New Muslims of Paris. His conception of fasting, which Muslims experience intensely during the month of Ramadan, is similar to that of Father Luc Forestier on the subject of Lent: “Depriving oneself of food is not a performance, insists the Catholic theologian. Lent n “has no meaning if it does not lead to the festivals of Easter and Pentecost. Fasting has only one objective: to make us taste more of the banquet.”

In Christianity, the tradition of Eucharistic fasting, in force until the Second Vatican Council (abstaining from consuming solid foods and alcoholic beverages three hours before mass), is now offered in a lighter manner (one hour instead of three) and no longer imposed. However, it retains meaning, believes Father Luc Forestier. “Communion is experienced with the body,” he recalls, smiling. If you have the opportunity, try to go to mass when breakfast is far away. Your experience of communion will be different. » “

In Christianity, the tradition of the Eucharistic fast, in force until the Second Vatican Council, is now proposed in a lighter way.

One way to better understand its spiritual meaning: “During Mass, we not only remember Christ's last meal with his disciples,” explains Father Luc Forestier. We also experience in advance, in a partial and fragmentary way, the universal communion which awaits us at the end of time, when there will be food for everyone. »

The Judeo-Christian paradise, as in other traditions, is often represented in the original form of a garden, where man, having become vegetarian again, no longer has to worry about thirst or hunger. hunger. A garden marvelously irrigated by four rivers of honey, milk, wine and oil, specifies the text of the Apocalypse. On the banks of these rivers grow trees with ten thousand branches “whose leaves never fall, adds Aphraates, author of the Syriac language of the 4th century. In the shade of their branches, breathing a sweet perfume, the souls will consume these fruits without ever feeling satiety”

Similar Posts