Saturday, August 25, 2007

Canadian Cana‘anite Bacon

Devarim/Deuteronomy 6:10-12
And it will be, when God, your God, brings you to the land which he swore to your ancestors — to Avraham, Yitzhhaq, and Ya‘aqov — to give to you; great and good cities, which you did not build. And houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not hew, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant — and you will eat, and be satisfied. But be careful, lest you forget God, who took you out of Mitzrayim, from the place of slavery.

Talmud Bavli, masekhet Hhulin 17a —
And R' Yirmeya bar Aba said, Rav said (on this passage):
[The 'all good things' referred to is] strips of pig-meat.

On this statement, Rashi comments —
Dried pigs, which are called bacons.

For some reason, it seems that in the process of conquering The Land, the Israelites were permitted to just pick up and eat whatever non-kosher food was lying around the abandoned homes of the previous Cana‘anite inhabitants. And not just the produce of vines and olive trees, or even kosher species of animals — mamash treif they were allowed to eat! Bacon!

No wonder the passage continues, warning them lest they "forget God" — our food taboos are one of the strongest and most pervasive catalysts for mindfulness. As Jews, we need to be constantly aware of what's cooking on our stoves, sitting on our plates, and going into our mouths. Giving the people such a shocking appeasement to their selfish inclinations — so much wider than the eishet yefat to’ar of today's parsha — would certainly open up the danger that they might not want the period of permissibility to end.

But the idea of our Ancestors coming out of the Wilderness, conquering The Land and sitting down at their 'new' Cana‘anite tables for a meal of... ready-to-eat bacon? So weird.

käppchen-tip: my hhevrusa

8 Comments:

Blogger The back of the hill said...

But why would rav Yirmeya bar Aba, and Rav, and Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhok all think bacon? This does not even logically spring to mind.

The cities, with which they had no causal connection, and which have positive characterists resulting from the efforts of the holders...
The houses, with which they had no causal connection, and which have positive characterists resulting from the efforts of the holders...
The cisterns, with which they had no causal connection, and which have positive characterists resulting from the efforts of the holders...
The vineyards and olive trees, with which they had no causal connection, and which have positive characterists resulting from the efforts of the holders...
But only the last mentioned have a connotation of food.

And you will eat - as a result of harvesting the grapes and olives, after living in the houses and the cities and using the water from the cisterns. A command to be applied going forward. Bacon is not going forward, but present usage of past curing.

You will occupy the cities, you will live in the houses, you will maintain and use the cisterns, and you will tend the vineyards and olive trees, and all of this will benefit you, and you will be satisfied...... but don't you dare forget that it was I, the tr---ster, who made it possible.

Bacon? Sounds suspiciously like a load of Shakespeare.

8/27/2007 5:22 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

characterists
Oh, the evils of copy-paste!

What I meant was 'characteristics'.

As the reverend Spooner said after a long surreal sermon, "whenever I mentioned Aristotle, I actually meant Saint Paul.

8/27/2007 9:04 PM  
Blogger Nem said...

When I was participating in an archaeological dig in Israel, I learned that there is evidence (pig bones) indicating that pigs were eaten in Philistine cities and not in Israelite ones. (I think the time period referenced was during the Israelite monarchy.) So apparently the taboo was observed later, once they were settled.

8/28/2007 2:05 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Back:

the point of the promise seems to be that the Israelites will benefit from the Canaanites' work; they're coming into a Land already (unintentionally) prepared for their coming, with houses, farms, and food on the tables. The food obviously isn't kosher, but that's sort of the weird point.

Nem:

i've seen dramatic graphs illustrating that, showing the proportion of pig bones to kosher animal bones in middens in the Central Hill Country (the Israelite heartland) over time from before the Conquest/Settlement to afterwards.

8/28/2007 7:01 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

the point of the promise seems to be that the Israelites will benefit from the Canaanites' work;

Aha! And what could possibly be MORE Canaanite (and startlingly non-Jewish) than bacon!

Now I get it.

8/30/2007 7:51 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Especially as their are halachos regarding cities, and houses, and arbors/orchards, and food. The halachos make these Jewish. Imposing the halachos changes these things to Jewish things, parts of the Jewish environment.

The takeover is, perhaps, not so much a takeover as it is a Jewification, a transformation.

8/30/2007 7:53 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

their are = there are

8/30/2007 7:54 PM  
Blogger BARZILAI said...

Adding to the conundrum, Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, the Ohr Samei'ach, says in his sefer that although bacon was allowed during those fourteen years, it still generated unwholesome character traits in those who ate it. Go ahead and eat it, but you'll be sorry if you do. So basically, the idea is that it is not prohibited by divine law, and everyone must decide for himself whether it is worth the negative consequences-- just like in the case of Yefat To'ar.

9/03/2007 10:00 PM  

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