What is the reason for the Jewish dietary laws?

The Torah provides a detailed list of foods that are kosher and those that are not.

A HADIR Shabbat spread. (photo credit: OFAIMME)
A HADIR Shabbat spread.
(photo credit: OFAIMME)
The dietary laws have been at the center of Jewish practice for thousands of years. The Torah provides a detailed list of foods that are kosher and those that are not. Animals with split hooves that chew their cuds are kosher. Fish with fins and scales are kosher. Blood is prohibited. Yet, other than the prohibition of blood – ‘for the blood is the life’ – the Torah advances no reason why pigs are not kosher, why milk may not be eaten with milk, and why shellfish may not be eaten.

Over the years, some have speculated that these laws were instituted for health reasons: others have suggested that the rules of Kashrut are intended to elevate people spiritually and turn the act of eating into a religious ritual. Ultimately, though, for many people, no reason is necessary. The fact that these laws are part of the Torah is sufficient.