In this week’s parsha, Hashem tells Moshe “Speak to the B’nei Yisrael and tell them “These are the creatures that you may eat”. What follows are the dietary laws of Kosher, detailing which animals may be eaten by a Jewish person. Rav Moshe Tzvi of Savran quotes a teaching from Chazal which states that Hashem took each animal by the tail in order to demonstrate which animals the Jewish nation may eat. What is the significance of Hashem’s taking each animal by the tail? Why was it important for our sages to mention this detail?

The tzaddik answers with a beautiful idea.

In the incredibly fundamental first chapter of Mesillas Yesharim, the Ramchal explains that this world and everything in it is here for the sake of a Jew’s avodas Hashem. Whereas the forbidden elements of our physical realm are intended to provide a counter-balance so that we may have free choice, the permissible elements are intended to aid the Jewish person in his or her relationship with Hashem. For example, the Ramchal teaches that when one eats a delicious meal with the intention of gaining strength to continue living a life of Torah and avodas Hashem, all elements of the food he is eating become part and parcel of his being and are elevated in his holy thoughts, words, and actions. It truth, however, this process reaches beyond the particular food he has consumed, elevating other levels of the physical realm.

As is known, our physical world is made up of four levels; Inanimate, Plantlife, Animals, and Humans. Plants are sustained by the earth, animals are sustained by eating plants, and humans are sustained by a variation of those categories. Therefore, when a Jew consumes meat, instead of merely elevating that isolated element, he is actually elevating the animal from which this meat derived, the plants with which the animal was sustained, and the earth which sustained the plants, in turn. In so doing, all levels of the physical world are included in his avodas Hashem.

The Savraner Rebbe explains that this is the lesson Hashem sought to impart. By grasping each Kosher animal by the tail, which represents the lowliest levels of physicality, and showing them to Moshe, Hashem was teaching him that by utilizing these animals for the purpose of better serving Him, we are able to elevate even the “tail”, the lowliest levels of our physical reality.

The permissible elements of our physical reality are intended to aid us in avodas Hashem. When a person eats kosher food, all elements of his meal become included in his commitment to a life of Torah and avodah and are elevated to the loftiest level.

Rav Moshe Tzvi of Savran
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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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