Internal Contradictions

Imagine this scenario:

You are person that keeps kosher, strictly. You join a volunteer organization which ships you out to various developing countries to help build up their community. When you get to the particular village that you will be living and working in, you are greeted by the entire village. They have thrown you a welcome party, complete with a roasted goat. This goat is one of only 10 goats they have in the village, but the slaughtered it to honor your arrival. They give you a plate, and ask that you take the first bite. What do you do?

My first reaction was that I would have to give up my kashrut standards for the sake of cultural sensitivity.

My friend, who is joining the Peace Corps and was asked this question on her interview, responded by saying she would first thank them for hosting the party, say how honored she was by all this, thank them for their generosity, and explain to them that just as they have things they do as part of their worship of God, she too has things she does for God, one of which is not eating goats, and to ask the village to please enjoy the goat for her.

I was ashamed that I didn’t react that way. I WISH that religion was more important to me. I wish I could be more steadfast in my attachment to observance. But then, there’s this post, which I still agree with. I would not, and would not WANT to, sacrifice my child if God told me to. I would not commit murder, rape, or assault simply for the sake of religious fervor.

I have always felt that my external moral beliefs (which may very well have been shaped by my religious beliefs) will always trump my religious beliefs. I don’t WANT that to change.

And now I am confused. Why do I feel bad that I would put my cultural sensitivity in front of my religious behavior if that is, after all, how I want to live my life? Is kashrut an external moral belief? I don’t think so. Why, then, is it so important to me?

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