Here are some more tidbits from AJ Jacobs in The Year of Living Biblically. Also I found a TED talk he did a few years back which mentions some experiences from this book including one of my favorites concerning what his wife did so he'd have to buy his own fold-up chair ...or remain standing within his own house! :)
About the religious food laws: they sharpen your discipline.
"The famous twelfth-century philosopher Maimonides says this is precisely their purpose: '[They] train us to master our appetites; to accustom us to restrain our desires; and to avoid considering the pleasure of eating and drinking as the goal of man's existence.'" (pg. 171)
Although we don't know that this is the true reason, I actually appreciate the thought behind it. Living in a culture that indulges quite often in food, drink and even materialism, I can see the wisdom in teaching humans to master their appetites and realize that there are more important things in the world than whether or not your cheeseburger is cooked right. Like why do we yell at waitresses as if our food is more important to us than they are? (Sorry. I fell into one of my pastor's pet peeves.)
Many of us know the Mosaic Law's prohibitions against eating pork or shellfish or birds of prey, but there is also a biblical rule concerning fruit. You may not eat of a tree fewer than five years old. So AJ researched which trees produced fruit fast and avoided them. Peach trees, for example, can produce fruit within two years. Cherry trees, on the other hand, take at least five years before producing fruit so he felt safe eating them. He noted: "The fruit taboo made me more aware of the whole cherry process, the seed, the soil, the five years of watering and waiting. That's the paradox: I thought religion would make me live with my head in the clouds, but as often as not, it grounds me in this world." (pg. 172)
Not many insects are kosher, but locusts, crickets and grasshoppers are. AJ's secular mind mulls the logic here. Why would God deem these bugs as permissible to eat?
"One book I read -- The Unauthorized Version by Robin Lane Fox -- had a theory. It said that in biblical times, swarming locusts would often devour the crops and cause famines. The only way for the poor to survive was by eating the locusts themselves. So if the Bible didn't approve of locust eating, the poorest Israelites would have died of starvation. This I like. More and more, I feel it's important to look at the Bible with an open heart. If you roll up your sleeves, even the oddest passages -- and the one about edible bugs qualifies -- can be seen as a sign of God's mercy and compassion." (pg. 176)
What do you think of AJ lessons from food laws? Thoughts on the video or anything else shared?