This post is a followup to yesterday’s post, “COVID-19 and Jewish Dietary Laws.” In it, I compare COVID-19 and some recent virus epidemics with Jewish dietary laws first set forth in the Jewish scriptures, in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. I do it because scientists have discovered that some of these virus epidemics have been traced to the human interaction and even consumption of animals that these scriptures declare as “unclean” and therefore forbidden for human consumption, such as pigs and bats. The origin of the current coronavirus pandemic, identified as COVID-19, that the world is experiencing has been traced to bats sold in a particular market in China.
China is officially called the Peoples’ Republic of China. Citizens of China know little about Jews and their religious culture. That is largely because of two reasons: (1) China is a communistic-atheistic country governed by the Communist Party of China, which itself is ruled by the Central Politburo consisting of 25 members, and (2) there are very few Jews who live in China, let alone religious Jews.
The authoritative World Jewish Congress has an online article entitled “China” that begins, “China is home to about 2,500 Jews. A small ethno-religious minority, the Chinese Jewish community has deep historical roots that go back centuries. There is currently no Jewish community representative body in China, although there are small active communities of expatriates in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.”
The WJC also says, “Today, the Chinese Jewish community is a small, concentrated minority within China. A large number of Jews from around the world have been coming to Beijing to part in the economic development of China. The relative lack of religious affiliation among members of the community is largely due to strict surveillance of religion under the Chinese government – and the censorship and crackdowns against ‘foreign’ influences. For most Chinese Jews, religious identity is celebrated individually and privately.”
China is therefore officially an atheistic country. Any citizens of China who practice religion must do so by the approval of the state or do so privately and thus in opposition to the state. Much of religion practiced in China is therefore like it used to be in the communistic-atheistic Soviet Union–underground. I know this because I have been a donor of the Christian, evangelistic organization Far East Broadcast Corporation for several decades.Although freedom of religion is espoused in the Constitution of the Peoples’ Republic of China, it is largely there to sooth democratic nations in their criticism of the true lack of religious freedom in China. However, China does officially sanction five religious bodies: the Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, Three-Self Patriotic Movement, and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Other, unregistered religious groups that largely worship privately endure constant government harassment, torture, imprisonment, and forced atheistic propaganda.
When communism overtook China, in 1949, authorities expelled all Christian missionaries, of which there were not a few. One of these missionaries, Henry Corey, later became my close friend who first introduced me to various Chinese dishes.
The last two of five aforementioned, approved religions are Christian, but they are tightly-restricted in their public gatherings. The communistic-atheistic government of China largely oppresses its people in knowing the Bible, Christianity, and Judaism.
So, Chinese people know little about the dietary laws set forth in the Bible and surely less than most people in the world. Yet, ironically, China produces much of the world’s kosher food required by observant Jews to eat because the Chinese are resourceful when they see a money-making business. The WJC says kosher food can be found in a few of China’s major cities, but “kosher food elsewhere is rare, if not non-existent.” But even being aware of kosher food, which is mostly about its preparation, does not inform about clean and unclean animals.
China recently legislated against its age-old tradition of eating wild animals and using parts of their carcasses in Chinese Medicine. But it seems that China has not been enforcing these laws very well, as witnessed by its Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the mega-city of Wuhan that is being identified as the source of COVID-19. If China’s citizens knew about clean and unclean animals in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, maybe they would change some of this culture for the better for both themselves and the world.