Food plays a major role in Jewish life. Imagine a wedding or bar mitzvah without food. It would be like a pub with no alcohol. What would be the point? For a culture that is so focused on food, then, it makes sense to have many rules that govern our eating. Without doubt, the primary reason for the kosher laws is spiritual health. You are what you eat.

Yet there is another very important reason for keeping kosher: self-control.

I once was a vegetarian and i was a big fan of macrobiotic eating. It is a very healthy, but incredibly restrictive diet. At the time i found this new way of eating easier than everyone else. It was because of our kosher laws. We were already used to controlling ourselves in the area of food consumption and this diet was merely an extension of that. For those, however, who had no experience of long-term control in eating, it was a much harder adjustment.

In Jewish thinking, much of life is about self-control. The more we take control of ourselves, the more we can direct ourselves toward meaningful accomplishment. And conversely, the more we allow our desires and passions to rule the roost, the less we are able to achieve. Food is a big area of desire and needs serious control.

Because every animal, the human included, needs food for survival, it can drive our desires crazy.. Eating is an area that calls for great self-control, to ensure that we don’t get carried away.