I taught him what a “kvetch” is

Thursday, 17 August, 2017 - 2:36 pm

 “You must try the “blutwurst” (blood sausage) that I make,” so enthused the gentleman who sold us the building that is now the Chabad House. The place was a respectable-looking butcher shop, and the owner was very proud of his sausage tradition, especially the one concerning the blood sausage. This was my second meeting with him. I taught him what a “kvetch” is and asked him to kvetch the price for us. But he was insisting that I must first try his blutwurst. “It’s a long-time tradition in our family,” he claimed. I explained that it is forbidden for me to eat non-kosher meat, and certainly blood, and it doesn’t matter who prepared the sausage and what his family traditions are.

He did not relent, and I was afraid that that would ruin the relationship and affect my kvetch. I took a Chumash, and showed him the Passuk in this week’s Parasha that says, “Just be strong not to eat the blood.” He read the German translation, took it in, and was silent for a moment. Then he said: “You understand why it says to be strong? Because it tastes so good and one must be strong in order not to eat it. This Bible is for sure talking about my family’s blutwurst.” I smiled when I heard this cute interpretation – and also because I understood I was about to get the kvetch that I wanted, and indeed I got it.

Chassidut explains the inner reason for the prohibition against eating blood.

What exactly is the problem with the blood of a kosher animal, which we are permitted to eat, as it says a few Psukim earlier, “For you will have a desire to eat meat, to your heart’s entire desire you may eat meat”?

And why does the Torah use this unusual expression – Chazak – be strong – regarding this prohibition?

Blood symbolizes enthusiasm, warmth and desire; it is its red color that symbolizes all this. The Torah wants us to give our desires and warmth to Hashem. We are to sprinkle the blood on the altar in the Beit Hamikdash, which, according to the inner understanding, means that we should dedicate our enthusiasm to Hashem and His Mitzvot.

This is actually an instruction for every level in our life: to save the enthusiasm and joy, the warmth and the desire for our spiritual lives, and less for our material ones. So yes, one is allowed to eat meat, and we’re allowed even to enjoy it, but before that we must salt the meat in order to remove the blood, and we must also make sure that we will make use the eating in order to do good things for others, and to add light and warmth to the world.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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