I’m speaking of animal crackers. I know that they are so common and so loved by children that nobody gives it a second thought when giving them as a snack. But we should because of the lesson that we are unintentionally giving them.
Feeding young, impressionable boys and girls with these crackers might make for an easy, guilt-free snack, but think of the implied message: animals like lions, horses, and bears are kosher. We wouldn’t give our children a coloring page that showed a frum yid eating a snake, so we shouldn’t give them a literal cracker of a non-kosher animal to eat either! This isn’t rocket science, it’s common sense.
In my view, animal crackers and cheeseburgers are cut of the same cloth. One leads to the another, perhaps not directly, but eventually. We know that eating non-kosher is mitamtem – it defiles the soul of a Jew. I would argue that eating animal crackers do the very same.
The problem is not limited to the animals being non-kosher. It extends to the fact that these animals are being eaten whole – as if they were still alive. That is eiver min hachai, and there is definitely no teaching about shechita and other integral kashrus concepts when a child is eating animal crackers. This is a problem.
I know some people might think I’m insane, but I can assure you that I’m not. The fact is that in today’s world we need to be overly sensitive, overly careful, and overly vigilant to protect our children and raise them with the proper hashkafas hachaim. Giving them literal non-kosher shaped animals to eat is the antithesis of everything else we do to raise them al pi derech hatorah.
If your child needs a snack, there are many, many options to choose from that don’t include nefarious, deleterious messaging. And that’s something we should take seriously.
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