Jewish Orthodoxy teaches that a Jew is someone born of a Jewish mother or has converted, sometimes through marriage. There are three main denominations or branches of Judaism. The main division is along the lives of Orthodox, Reform and Conservative. There are also several smaller religious movements alongside them. All Jews are understood to keep many different mitzvahs although how strictly these rules are adhered to is dependent on the branch of Judaism followed. This essay will outline halakha, mainly the kashrut laws and how they offer a fuller appreciation of Judaism as it is lived.
Kashrut is the body of Jewish law that deals with the 'purity' system. It comes from the Hebrew root Kak-Shin-Reish, meaning proper or correct. It is governed by a variance of observance of halakha, the entirety of Jewish teaching and law (Harvey, 2015). It rests foremost upon the commandments found in the written and oral Torah and concerns itself with the correct application of mitzvoh to every aspect of life. This includes ritual, religion, civil and criminal law, and morality and ethics. Jewish religion encompasses every aspect of life as outlined by Donin (1991), p30: 'Fully and properly observed, the Jewish religion is life itself, and provides values to guide all of life'.
The Jewish dietary laws, or kashrut, are found in halakha. The term kosher is applied to any item that is prepared in accordance with halakha, but is widely used in relation to food. The rules of kashrut are derived from 'Biblical statute, rabbinic interpretation and legislation and custom' (Novak).
Jews believe that through adherence to kashrut, it presents as a sign of their respect and love for God. Orthodox Jews believe that they have a covenant with God and due to this, feel connected with him and therefore presenting themselves as 'a special people' or 'the chosen people' (Harvey p17). Moses gave the Ten Commandments as a foundation of rules to be followed.