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Keeping Kosher in a Non-Kosher Home?

Sunday, 10 February, 2019 - 8:52 pm


Question of the Week:


My very religious brother is coming to visit from Israel for a couple of weeks. As you know, my family is proudly Jewish but we do not keep kosher. I invited him to stay with us, but then suddenly thought that it might be a disaster. Can someone keep kosher in a non-kosher home? Are we going to have to turn our life upside down to accommodate him? Or is it better he stays at a kosher friend and we keep the peace?




This question has little to do with religiosity, and all to do with personality.


There are relatively simple solutions for keeping kosher in a non-kosher home. You can create for your brother a little kosher corner in your kitchen. All you need to do is get some new pots and pans, a stash of disposable cutlery and crockery, and allow him to rampage through the kitchen with a blowtorch. It's no big deal.


The real question is: are the two of you willing to bend a little for each other? It would be so much easier for both of you if he stayed somewhere else. For your brother, it might be awkward to eat in a home where others are eating non-kosher. For you, it might be inconvenient to give up some of your kitchen for a blow-torch wielding fundamentalist. But that's what you do for family. 


Religious differences can tear a family apart, or bring a family closer. It really depends on the people. If we are stubborn, insecure and intolerant then religion serves as a great excuse to not get along. But the issue is in the relationship, not the religion. If you and your brother value your connection and are willing to work together, you can live, and love, with your differences.


Peace in the family is itself a religious value. We should all be willing to compromise on our own convenience to keep the family together. You can be strict about kosher and strict about brotherly love too. The Torah teaches us to separate milk and meat, not brother and brother.


Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss


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