The Torah warns us “B’chukotahem lo teileichu – Do not follow in their ways.” Is this meant to separate the Chosen Nation from all outside influences or just certain ones? According to the Rema, only behavior that lacks modesty or may be construed as idol worship is included in the prohibition. According to the Gra, it includes all acts for which there is no basis in the Torah.
What does this have to do with lox? An Internet search brought up the origin of the Bagel and Lox breakfast. This Sunday morning tradition began in America, where lox (smoked salmon) was less expensive, had no need of refrigeration, didn’t need ritual slaughter, and best of all, was parve. But did you know that the Bagel and Lox was the kosher answer to the very popular gentile breakfast of an Eggs Benedict? Our enterprising ancestors who wanted to enjoy the same country club status substituted the lox for the meat, the cream cheese for the sauce and the bagel as the base.
Our fascination with being able to consume the same delectable non-kosher offerings gave rise to kosher pizza, kosher Chinese food, and of course what simcha would be complete without sushi? Being in galut, we cannot help but be influenced by our surrounding culture – whether it be food, fashion or fun. Our Torah reminds us though: Kedoshim tehiyu – that we should maintain a separation between our ways and theirs.
This Yom Kippur what are you going to break your fast on? Bagels and Lox? Or maybe a good schmaltz herring.