The Holy Fraud

Kli Yakar Leviticus: Shmini

The Holy Fraud

“The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self. All sin is easy after that.”

Pearl Bailey

There is a creature that walks amongst us, sometimes is us, that wears the garments of a saint. That creature dresses in the latest holy fashion. He wears the right garb and makes the right noises. He hangs out in holy enclaves and demonstrates great devotion. He shows the world how holy he is and makes sure his signs of holiness are visible for all to see. The Torah has a name for such a creature. The Torah names him a pig.

Yes. For some reason, the innocent, intelligent and highly sociable hog is considered traditionally to be the vilest of creatures. The Kli Yakar (Leviticus 11:4) suggests why. As is widely known, pigs are not kosher animals – if anything they are the antithesis and symbolic of the most non-kosher food one can consume. What is curious about the pig is that he actually does possess one of the two kosher mammalian traits and the most visible one at that: split hooves.

The pig has another interesting trait. It apparently sleeps with its hooves stretched out, as if to say: “Look at me! I have split hooves. I am kosher!” The Kli Yakar states:

“This teaches that all whose insides are not like their outside, as the fraudsters who present themselves as righteous; they are without doubt worse than the purely bad, whose insides and outsides are the same.”

May we beware of the fraud within ourselves and others.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the engagement of Yonatan Shai Freedman and Rachel Reinstein. May their lives be fraud-free, and filled with all that other great stuff people wish for.

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