This week’s Torah portion, Re’eh has in it the kosher laws. Although we have spoken of it before, I remind you that the kosher laws were not meant for health but because they cause you to eat differently, to make different choices about eating than any other nation on earth. God’s purpose was not necessarily to keep the people healthy but to make them stand apart. That is the definition of holiness, to be set apart, set aside for God’s intended purpose.
So with regard to fish, they must have fins and scales in order to be kosher to eat. If you are like me and eating kosher, even though I live in the southern part of the United States, one particular fish that is very popular here is off the menu. And that is catfish because they have fins but no scales, they have skin like a shark. There must be fins and scales and this is why things like, clams, oysters, shrimp and lobster are also off the menu – no fins, no scales.
There was a famous rabbi in the first century, Rabbi Akiva. He had a famous parable about fins and scales. He said that the fins of the fish are to help propel it forward, keep it moving through the water and the scales protect it from attack. In our lives Rabbi Akiva explains that when we study the Torah it is the fins, so to speak. It is our knowledge of the Torah that helps us move through the books, the verses to gain a proper understanding. And the scales, well that’s what helps us to ward off attack from the enemy – keeps us away from temptation.
Now you may think that moving forward is the most important thing and so we need to place the emphasis on the fins – the moving forward with our bible knowledge. But if we don’t also have those scales, we will become egotistical, we won’t be able to fight off the temptation of becoming puffed up with our Torah knowledge. This is one of the things I so appreciate about our Yeshiva Shuvu because we like to say that it is not about information it is about transformation.
If you just want to fill your head with knowledge then our yeshiva, our messianic Jewish school is not for you. But if you are truly looking for a discipleship experience where you will not only learn to move through the Torah yourself but to have the armor that defends you against the enemy then we’ve got the school for you. Think about this in your life. If all we do is learn and learn, the bible tells us that knowledge puffs us up. We need to be able to move through the Torah but to do it with humility and armed with the scales, as it were, that protect us from the temptation of ego. Who knew that you could learn so much from fish?
Shabbat Shalom, God’s richest blessings on you and Kol Tuv.
If you want more, please apply on this website for the Kosher Pastor program where we are still bundling all seven courses for $400. It is an introduction to messianic Judaism for Christians.