Regarding NeverTrumpers, are there two different kinds — the sleazy grifters and the genuinely principled people who cannot swallow the idea of Trump?
The Torah (that is, the five books of Moses) imposes multiple life rules on Jews and how many of these rules a given Jew follows depends on that person’s degree of religious orthodoxy. For non-Jews, the kosher dietary laws are probably the best known commandments that religious Jews must obey.
For those Jews who keep kosher, there are myriad rules about the type of food that may be eaten, the way animals must be slaughtered, the way the food must be prepared, and the dishes on which it can be served. Keeping kosher is complicated and takes observant Jews outside of the mainstream of American eating.
For those with a deep commitment to God, however, the kosher dietary laws are simply a fact of life. Moreover, they find non-kosher food so viscerally repugnant that they wouldn’t dream of knowingly eating it.
God’s laws, though, are still subsets of an even more important principle: The Torah’s highest and most important directive is to choose life. In keeping with this directive, over the centuries the rabbis developed the doctrine of Pikuach nefesh. Per Wikipedia, which seems to be quite accurate on this point:
Pikuach nefesh (Hebrew: פיקוח נפש, IPA: [piˈkuaχ ˈnefeʃ], “saving a life”) describes the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. When the life of a specific person is in danger, almost any mitzvah lo ta’aseh (command to not do an action) of the Torah becomes inapplicable. [Hyperlinks and footnotes omitted.]
Specifically with regard to the intersection between Pikuach nefesh and kosher dietary rules, Wikipedia explains as follows:
Non-kosher food may be eaten under the following circumstances:
- If no kosher food is available to the person, and failure to eat the non-kosher food may result in starvation.
- If a non-kosher food product specifically is needed to cure an illness.
If necessary for recovery, a patient may eat non-kosher foods. In the Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 82a of Tractate Yoma mentions pregnancy cravings for non-kosher food (the passage discusses a pregnant woman who craves pork on Yom Kippur) as the paradigmatic example of a presumed life-threatening situation where a person is allowed to eat non-kosher food (and is permitted to eat it on Yom Kippur). [Hyperlinks omitted]
The fact that something is permitted, though, doesn’t necessarily mean someone is able to do it. I have heard stories of extremely orthodox Jews who, when rescued from Nazi concentration camps, were unable to make themselves eat if the only food available was not kosher. (This obviously doesn’t apply to quarrels about which plate to use; it applies to being offered pork or some other forbidden food to eat.) These Jews would tell their children to eat the food, but they viewed it with such revulsion — akin to your being asked to eat a piece of ancient, rotten, worm-ridden meat — that they simply couldn’t force it down. I don’t know if these stories are true, but they work nicely for my Trump analogy — or rather, for my NeverTrumpers analogy. [Read more…]