Wednesday, November 23, 2016

HWA Ruined the Abstention from Unclean Meats

Recently Arutz Sheva's CEO related a story of what happened to him while he was serving in the Israel Defense Force.
At some point during my mandatory military service, I and several other soldiers were sent from our base to another, small base. Three of us were religious and the rest – secular. Once we arrived, we realized that the kitchen was not kosher. There was no doubt about it. 
We did what naïve religious soldiers do in such situations. We called our company commander, vowed that we would not set foot in the dining room until it had been made kosher by a certified representative of the Military Rabbinate, whose job itis to see that the IDF kitchens are kosher, and asked him to supply us with an alternative food source.
The officer then ordered them to eat there anyway. Following his religion the soldier refused.
Now it was his turn to be shocked. "Are you refusing an order? If you do not enter the dining room, I will court martial you," he threatened. 
"I am not refusing anything," I replied. "But I will not go into the dining room, even if you decide to court martial me and my comrades."
Fortunately that threat faded away.
It was not easy, but it was very clear to us. An order that contravenes halakha [commandment] must not be followed, and if the price to pay is a military trial and punishment, so be it. Halakha comes first. The end of the story, by the way, was that we received combat rations that very evening, the kitchen was made kosher the next day, thanks to us, and the threat of a court martial was not mentioned again.
Reading this story I could not help but think of how cruel and oppressive it was that HWA ordered his followers to adhere to his understanding of what meats were not to be eaten. His followers have often requested that staff at restaurants make their food in a particular way. They think that doing so will adhere to what HWA and Co. have taught.

But among observant Jews they simply do not eat any meat that is not kosher. If such persons see that a dining room does not meet kosher standards they simply not eat there at all. Jews wishing to observe these religious traditions have an entire community to help them observe these religious traditions. There are institutions to help them observe these religious traditions that are precious to them.

But when HWA ordered his followers he probably did not know about these things. HWA's followers had no supporting community like that to help observe such things. HWA blithely took his selective ideas to his followers. Any differences between what Jews observed and what HWA taught were dismissed as added traditions that HWA's followers did not need to observe. In doing so they were imitating Jewish practice but only to a small degree as decided by HWA. This practice is mutually demeaning to HWA's followers and to Jews whose precious religious traditions had been crudely imitated in a demeaning fashion by HWA without their permission.

It is terrible that HWA imposed this burden upon his followers by culturally appropriating the abstention of unclean meats as decided by himself. There is no need for HWA's followers to observe these things. It is clear that HWA was never used by God. Also it seems to me that it would be more respectful to Jews to simply leave this practice alone and leave it for them to observe alone.


  1. Yep, I've pointed out one huge problem with eating in non-Kosher restaurants usually at the time of the ACOG feasts. Your morning pancakes are being grilled on the same grill as pork bacon or sausage. Generally, the pigslop residue is scraped to catch areas on the periphery of the grill. Some of it ends up in your pancakes. Steaks are grilled on the same surface as pork chops. This violates the letter of the law as recorded in Torah.

    This is another area where if someone had raised objections actually based on what is right in the Bible, it would have been countered with "But, Mr.Armstrong says..." And, this, from people whose favorite scripture was "We ought to obey God rather than man."


  2. Of course, they had that covered with the keys of Peter!


  3. I remember Dean Wilson mentioning in a sermon how he liked fillet mignon prepared with bacon, but he didn't eat the bacon. Then there was the story of HWA "chewing but not swallowing" some veal that he thought might have been pork.

    From HWA’s original Autobiography, “clean and unclean meats” was a divisive issue in CG7. Following the “six months intensive Bible study”, HWA studied “health”. From this appears to have emerged his take on clean and unclean meats being a health issue. His account on how he interrupted a meeting with a CG7 leader, mocking the leader’s importance and confronting him with his position on clean and unclean meats, which differed from the official CG7 doctrine.

    The Jewish concept of clean and unclean being related to health appeared in the 19th century, although it was noted in the 12th century by Maimonides aka Rambam (not a Flintstones character).

    And, despite what GTA wrote, Halal (the Muslim dietary law) is not the same as Kosher...

  4. Thanks for your comments and for sharing your thoughts here.