Written by Rabbi Noach Muroff, Upper School Judaics Studies Instructor
In this week's Torah reading, we are taught about kosher dietary laws. We are taught that all land animals must both chew their cud and have split hooves in order to be kosher. Fish must have both fins and scales. When it comes to birds, the Torah does not tell us any specifications, but it lists 24 types of birds which are not kosher. The Talmud tells us that kosher birds cannot be birds of prey.
After telling us the requirements of land animals, the Torah then specifies four animals that are not kosher: the camel, the hyrax, the hare, and the pig. The reason that these four are singled out from all of the non-kosher animals is because each of these animals possesses one of the two required kosher signs. The pig, however, is the only animal which has the external sign of having split hooves, but is lacking the internal sign of chewing its cud. This is, perhaps, why the pig has become "the worst" of the non-kosher animals. The pig is giving the message of being fit outwardly, but internally, it is not fit at all.
We are right now in the period of Sefirat Haomer. It was during this period of time that 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students died for not showing proper respect to each other. These students were all great Torah scholars; however, they did not act in a way which represented the Torah that they studied. Their internal actions did not match their external actions of piety. If you can't walk the walk, then don't talk the talk.
We could all learn from this message that the Torah is teaching us and work on improving our internal actions to match or even supersede our external actions.
Rabbi Noach Muroff