Hold Up, Is Bacon Kosher?

Some biblical scholars argue that not eating bacon is part of broader misunderstanding
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2017 12:30 PM CDT
Hold Up, Is Bacon Kosher?
In this 2009 file photo, strips of sizzling bacon crown a breakfast platter with fried eggs and potatoes.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Have Jews been depriving themselves of bacon for no reason? A group of biblical scholars makes the argument in Haaretz that the Book of Leviticus, the third in the Old Testament that lays down various laws dictating how Jewish people should live, wasn't actually meant for the laity. Rather, they contend, it was meant for the priests of the Temple, though historically only Chapter 21 has been interpreted as applying to only priests, including a ban on ritual scarring and tattoos. The other rules have long been extended to everyone of the Jewish faith, including the decree that only meat from an "animal that has a cloven hoof that is completely split into double hooves, and which brings up its cud" was ritually clean enough for consumption, per Vice's Munchies.

Many aspects of the Book of Leviticus have long confounded scholars, including whether it was Moses who compiled the book, and when it was first composed—some say 3,500 years ago, others say far more recently, possibly in the fifth century BC. The current argument is that the entire book was originally written for priests, but somewhere during Babylonian captivity someone extended the rules in Leviticus to everyone as a means of unifying the exiled, and setting them apart from those of other religions around them, reports Vice. So this ban on bacon, for instance, encouraged "the enthusiastic self-perception that [Jews] were all priests in the new Temple of God, the world," one scholar says. (Too much bacon is killing us.)

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