BDS vs. BS”D; meat, milk and true moral sensitivity
God: “And remember, Moshe, to keep kosher, never cook a kid goat in its mother’s milk. It is cruel.”
Moshe: “God, so are you saying we should never eat milk and meat together?”
God: “No, what I’m saying is, never cook a kid goat in its mother’s milk.”
Moshe: “Oh Lord, forgive my ignorance! What you are really saying is we should wait six hours after eating meat to eat milk so the two are not in our stomachs?”
God: “No Moshe, listen! I am saying, don’t cook a kid in its mother’s milk!”
Moshe: “Oh, Lord! Please don’t strike me down for my questioning! Do you mean we should have a separate set of dishes each for milk and for meat, and if we make a mistake we have to bury that dish outside …”
God: “Fine! Just do whatever you want.”
This famous joke relates to two puzzlements with the Pasuk לא תבשל גדי בחלב אימו which appears in our weeks’ Parsha. Firstly, why does the Pasuk appear, identically, three different times (Mishpatim, Ki Tisa & Re’eh)? And more importantly, how did we get from “not cooking a kid in its mother’s milk” to the elaborate Hilchot Basar VeChalav at the foundation of Hilchot Kashrut?
Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook offered the following reflection to understand this Mitzvah and its apparent importance:
The act of cooking a kid goat in its mother’s milk is cruel and sinister; the mother’s milk, intended to give sustenance and life to the kid is being used to kill it and turn it into food. How insensitive does one need to be to do such a thing?
Mixing meat and milk, explains rav Tzvi Yehudah, holds a similar cruelty. We obtain meat from an animal by killing it while we obtain milk from an animal by preventing/relieving its pain. Though both products are attained by taking from an animal one is an act of cruelty while the other, an act of kindness. The separation of meat and milk instill within us the sensitivity to distinguish between mercy and cruelty; that we should not confuse the two. We should not blur the fine line that many times exists between that which is positive, or even, ideal and that which is negative, or just permissible. Understood and followed correctly, Hilchot Basar VeChalav heighten our moral sensitivity furthering our moral and religious growth, as individuals and a collective.
This is but one of many examples of how moral sensitivity and refinement are a foundational element of our national identity, culture and observance. This should by no means make us complacent but it should reassure us of the fallacy of “BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) morality”, which blurs the lines of morality beyond recognition in comparison to “BSD (Besi’ata Dishmaya) morality” which, by distinguishing between that which is good and that which is bad has proven itself throughout the centuries as a transformative beacon of morality to the world.