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    Disgusting foods – Re’eh

    Part of the Torah reading this week deals with the dietary laws. It gives us a general principle, lo tochal kol to’evah – “do not eat any disgusting thing” (Deut. 14:3).

    The traditional translation of to’evah is abomination. This word comes a number of times in the Torah. Idol worship is an abomination. Offering a donation derived from unethical activity is an abomination. Sexual sins are abominations.

    Sometimes the word to’evah is strengthened by the addition of the Almighty’s name, e.g. when we find the phrase to’evat HaShem, an abomination unto the Lord.

    If we want to define a to’evah in more detail, it helps to suggest t-a-v (to be erroneous, abhorrent) as the root. Amos 6:8 says, meta’ev anochi et ge’on Ya’akov, “I abhor the pride of Jacob” (i.e. the things in which the people of Jacob take pride).

    The Hebrew word to’evah indicates that things which some people flaunt are basically disgusting in the eyes of God; if God doesn’t like them, neither should we.

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