Dear Rabbi Lazer,
I understand why the Torah prohibited pork, because back in the old days, there was no refrigeration and a lot of triganosis. But with today's modern methods and hygiene, what's wrong with pork? I'm far from Orthodox, but I like your straight talk, and would appreciate a straight answer. Yours, Jon from North Florida
Thanks for your question - it's a superb one. I'll answer you briefly, point by point:
1. The Torah did not forbid pork because of worms or bacteria, and even though today's refrigeration and processing are quite sanitary, the Torah is eternal and doesn't change. By the way, Moses knew how to preserve meat.
2. The food we eat becomes a part of us. Since all creatures have a lifesource, or a spiritual soul (nefesh), whenever we eat a creature, we take on its spirituality, for better or for worse. A pig has certain spiritual characteristics that that trigger egoism, lewd behavior, stubborness, and cruelty, and thereby impair a Jew from performing his or her spiritual task in this world.
3. Pork clouds the Jewish spirit (ruach venashama), and in essence creates a barrier between a person's spirit and The Almighty's Divine Illumination, or Divine light. Without Divine light, a person loses faith. For example, a pork eater cannot possibly understand or believe in the oral law (Talmud), which is inseparable from the written law (Tanach).
4. Despite the above three reasons, we don't eat pork simply because The Almighty told us not to. The Almighty is the master engineer that designed our souls. The Torah is our owner's manual. If you owned a new Ford, and were told to lubricate with 10-40 oil, you certainly wouldn't use frying oil because it's cheaper. You'd destroy your engine! Likewise, when you go against the recommendations of Torah, you damage your soul.
Jon, if you don't eat kosher meat as yet, try going for a week without eating any meat at all. Wash your hands as soon as you wake up in the morning (see yesterday's Beams), and write me again in a week, telling me if you feel different or not. I look forward to hearing from you. Meanwhile, best of luck. Yours always, Lazer