Religion is Starting to Bug Me ­ Article ­ BINA

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Religion is Starting to Bug Me

by Rabbi Aron Moss

Question:
OK you need to adjudicate this one between me and my wife before it gets out of hand. We keep a kosher home, and I am fine with that. She checks the lettuce for bugs, and I think that's crazy. I am not anti-religion but I am anti-fanaticism and to me this is going too far. There are bugs in everything, we can't help eating them. Can you explain to her that she is going overboard?
 
Answer:
Bugs are not kosher. Eating a bug is the same as eating bacon, and to keep kosher properly you have to examine any fruits and vegetables that are prone to infestation, and remove any bugs before eating them.
 
But there are some bugs that are so small that they can't be seen by the naked eye. We eat them all the time. And Jewish law allows it. You don't need to take out a microscope to check your food. Only bugs that are visible to the naked eye are a problem.
 
Now you might say: That's inconsistent! If it isn't kosher, it isn't kosher, no matter how big or small. How can you say 'see no evil, eat no evil'?
 
Here is where our Torah is so down to earth. It only expects from us what is possible. We cannot avoid every microscopic mishap. While we have to be vigilant in our observance, and can never turn a blind eye to wrongdoing, we are only human and not expected to be anything more than that. So if the human eye can't see the bug, we don't need to try to find it with a magnifying glass.
 
Your wife is not crazy. As long as she is not scanning lettuce under a microscope, she is doing the right thing. But what about you? You should also avoid looking for problems that are really invisible. Perhaps scrutinize her a bit less, and find out what it is that is really bugging you.

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