Metaphors in the Torah: The Cheeseburger and the Goat

Illustration: Isaac Blessing Jacob by Gustave Dor'e                             


Throughout this series of articles which have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, I have tried to hammer home the point that food is a metaphor for knowledge and, specifically, each type of food represents a certain type of knowledge. Sometimes the Tanakh comes right out and says that a certain tree or a certain food should be associated with a specific feeling or idea (for example: grapes are associated with: “happiness”). Other times no indication is given at all.

In the Torah there is a commandment forbidding the Israelites from cooking a young goat in its mother’s milk. For some totally unexplained reason, the rabbis have decided to expand this law to include all meats and every conceivable type of dairy product. That hundreds of millions and possibly even billions of dollars are needlessly wasted each year enforcing this absolutely ridiculous interpretation of the law has no real relevance to this article. Our purpose here is simply to analyze this particular law and to attempt to discover the real motive behind this commandment in relation to the goat. Accordingly, in this article we will not discuss why Abraham fed the three angels milk and meat together, but merely note that it did indeed happen...

In previous articles we have shown that, based on a two letter root system that was used in ancient Hebrew, the Hebrew words for: a field, a female breast and a spirit are all the same. Thus, since a woman’s breast produces milk, we can also say that a field produces the type of knowledge associated with milk.

Naturally, which food the field produces is determined by which seed is planted in the field. Here I would just like to go off on a tangent for a moment and return to the Torah Challenge I issued a few weeks ago asking anyone to prove that Judaism is based on matrilineal descent:

Although, no one has succeeded in proving Judaism is based on matrilineal descent, many people pointed to the lines where God declares that Sarah would bear the child with whom which the covenant would be made.

In response to those comments,  I would like you to think of God as a farmer who owns three separate farms. One farm is in New York and is called “Sarah Hills”. The second farm is located in Alabama and is called: “Hagar Valley”. The third farm is located in Arizona and is called: “Keturah Plains”. God decides to plant a new type of apple called: “The Seed of Abraham” in all three farms. Having many years of experience, beforehand God declares that "the Seed of Abraham" apples planted in “Sarah Hills” will produce the best fruit and it is only these apples which he will sell in the supermarkets of America.

The point here is that ALL three farms will produce apples, but “Sarah Hills” will produce the best apples. To claim that “Sarah Hills” farm will always produce “The Seed of Abraham” apples even if one plants a grove of mango trees is simply ridiculous. The covenant was clearly made with Abraham’s seed, not Sarah’s ovaries. Isaac was Abraham’s son. Rebecca was not Sarah’s daughter…Thus Judaism is NOT based on matrilineal descent….Checkmate !

Returning then to the milk produced by the field/breast, all we can say for sure is that it has something to do with spiritual teachings because of the common Hebrew root already mentioned. In addition to this, we can also say that the milk of a woman’s breast is very tasty and easy to digest. What this then suggests is that this type of spiritual knowledge is agreeable to the listener and is not too difficult to understand (As mentioned in other articles, even today we still talk of "digesting material" found in a book or presentation).

The second part of the commandment has to do with cooking. Basically, there are not too many stories in the Torah about cooking, but three stand out and two of them have to do with spices.

The first reference we already discussed in a different article when we spoke about  Pontiphar, the man who bought Joseph when he arrived in Egypt. In Hebrew Potiphar is described as: "a chef" or: "a cook" and not: "Captain of the Guards" which appears in most English translations.  We also explained that Joseph arrived with a spice caravan and that the Hebrew word for: meat also means: to preach. Our conclusion was that Potiphar took Joseph into his household as a spiritual advisor to help him prepare religious presentations or sermons for Pharoah.

The second story dealing with cooking has to do with Jacob preparing a “red food” for Esau and exchanging this for his birth right as the first born son. Why this is important is that Esau’s descendants will be called: “The Edomites” which means: “The Red Men”. As also mentioned in an earlier article, Esau was a hunter (i.e. he chased after meat). In addition, what should be considered is that the Torah says Esau returns home “tired”, not hungry when he makes his deal with Jacob. My feeling is that strength is a metaphor for “intellectual strength” and, apparently, in his efforts to find a type of spiritual knowledge by listening to sermons, this reduced his appreciation for the value of being the first born son of Isaac.

Actually, we can see this in the United States and other locations of the Diaspora, where Jews have listened to sermons, lectures or whatever and decided that being a Jew and living in Israel is also not all that important (By the way, some Jews also think that being circumcized is not all that important either: "I am not going to live in Israel, so what value does the circumcism have for me?").

The third story is probably the most relevant for this article, because not only does Rebecca cook a spicy or savory stew, but she uses two goats. Hence, our first question must be: Why did Rebecca tell Jacob to bring two goats and not two lambs or two calves?(The number two is also important, but we discuss this in a future article).

To answer this question we must consider other stories about goats in both the Torah and the Tanakh. One of the most famous stories in the Torah is the betrayal of Joseph by his brothers and selling him into slavery. What is not appreciated is that the brothers, in order to convince their father that Joseph is dead, dip his robe into the blood of a goat. Hence, goat’s blood in this story has something to do with deception.

Another story dealing with a goat features the daughter in law of Judah deceiving him into thinking that she is a prostitute. Why this is worth noting is that we are told that Judah was on his way to shear his sheep, so one would think that a prostitute would have asked for a lamb from his flock. Regardless, deception is involved and a goat is part of the story.

Finally, in the story of Rebecca, Jacob and Isaac's blessing, the entire narrative is based on deception and the goat has a double function. First: the goat is prepared in a special manner to make Isaac think that it is some type of meat caught in the field (it should also be noted here that we have repeatedly shown in other articles that a field is a metaphor for a school). The second part of the deception is that the hair of the goat is placed on Jacob’s arms and shoulders because Esau is described as a man covered in hair as thick as a garment. What, I believe, is significant here is that hair appears in the stories of Samson and Samuel and is described as being a sign of one’s devotion to God.

Therefore, we see two things in this stories: goats are associated with deception and cooking makes food more appetizing and thus easier to influence the person “digesting the message” to accept it.

So then: What exactly does the commandment about not eating a young goat cooked in its mother’s milk really mean? And: How is this related to eating a cheeseburger?

If meat does indeed represent a type of preaching, then goat’s meat represents a deceptive sermon. The fact that the commandment specifically mentions a young goat, suggests that this is a new idea or a new perspective being presented to the people.

The fact that it speaks of a mother’s milk, suggests a readily acceptable spiritual teaching which is easy to comprehend.

Finally, the fact that the meat is cooked and does not simply soak in the milk suggests that message has been deliberately altered in some way to make it more appealing and digestible.

Thus, putting all these elements together we get:

“Don’t accept new spiritual teachings that look too good to be true, they probably have been deliberately “cooked up” to deceive you.

And: What does this commandment about eating a young goat cooked in its mother's milk have to do with eating a cheeseburger?

NOTHING…absolutely nothing….