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In chapter 1 of the book of Daniyel HaNabi states at verse 12:

נַס־נָ֥א אֶת־עֲבָדֶ֖יךָ יָמִ֣ים עֲשָׂרָ֑ה וְיִתְּנוּ־לָ֜נוּ מִן־הַזֵּרֹעִ֛ים וְנֹאכְלָ֖ה וּמַ֥יִם וְנִשְׁתֶּֽה

“Please test your servants for ten days, giving us legumes to eat and water to drink.

Why exactly did Daniyel HaNabi ask for Zeroim? Why not just request for the meat to be kosherized as verse 9 states how HaNabi was granted favor with the overseeing Sar from HaShem? Were there vegetarians or vegans that Daniyel previously encountered and witnessed the benefits of abiding by that lifestyle? Were the Israelites known to be vegetarians, vegans, or fruitarians?

As always articles, commentaries, references, and personal insight are always welcomed. Todah Rabbah, Shalom Uvracah.

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    Is there a particular reason why this question received a downvote?
    – יהודה
    Jan 28, 2022 at 18:59
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    He didn't trust the non-Jewish palace to know how to prepare kosher meat, even assuming they would be willing to provide it.
    – N.T.
    Jan 28, 2022 at 20:44
  • @N.T. Shalom. Do you have a source for that or is that from your personal insight?
    – יהודה
    Jan 30, 2022 at 15:11
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    No one would trust someone who does not personally keep kosher to provide them with kosher food unless they were supervised.
    – N.T.
    Jan 30, 2022 at 22:45

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It seems to me that this story represents a deeper meaning regarding the fact that G-d tests the tzadikkim.

The Midrash Tanchuma (Vayera 21) explains that just as Avraham Avinu was tested by Hashem, so was דָֽנִיֵּ֜אל tested.

The Midrash explains:

Similarly, you find that though the Holy One, blessed be He, decreed that Daniel and his companions should eat unclean bread, as it is said: And the Lord said: “Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their bread unclean, among the nations whither I will drive them” (Ezek. 4:13), nevertheless when Nebuchadnezzar commanded them to eat his food, as is said: And the king appointed for them a daily portion of the king’s food and of the wine which he drank (Dan. 1:5), Daniel would not obey. He declared: Even though the Holy One, blessed be He, has decreed that we should eat unclean food, He did so only to test us.

I think the commentary of the Chizkuni on Bereishis 17:17 seems to be relevant to this explanation given by the Midrash:

the righteous are allowed to carry out their plans, i.e. what is in their hearts, as they are in charge of their hearts

For example (Daniel 1:8):

Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or the wine he drank

In the Shema, we say "And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand"- Devarim 6:8.

On this, the Akeidat Yitzchak comments:

"You shall bind them as a sign," are warnings to observe regulations about forbidden foods, reminders to limit our social contacts with gentiles. "They shall be as frontlets between your eyes." These are warnings not to be misled by what our eyes behold, to be led astray.

So, just as Avraham Avinu was tested, so was Daniel tested by G-d, maybe to see if he would observe the regulations concerning forbidden foods, so when Daniel got offered to eat from the King's food, he resolved not to defile himself with it (the King's food). As the Midrash explains (Tanchuma Buber, Vayera 43:1)

Daniel did not accept it. Instead he said: Although the Holy One has decreed for us to eat unclean bread, he wants to test us. We, however, will do our part; and the Holy One will do his.

G-d tested Daniel with this test, but Daniel "passed the test" because:

They said to him: Yes, because we are of the children of that person who withstood the test of ten trials from G-d. His merit will stand by us.

You ask "Why not just request for the meat to be kosherized", please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this can be solved by looking into the commentary of the Chavatzelet HaSharon (Alshikh) on Daniel 1:12, it was not allowed to slaughter animals:

אך בבואו לגמור הדבר אחר גלות דעתו שר הסריסים אז הוציא מה שבלבו כי ראה שאם יאכל בשר יהיו נבלות כי בחצר המלך לא יניחוהו לנהוג דיני שחיטה ובדיקה על כן שאל זרעונין שיבשלם בעצמו ולא ידבק בידו מאומה מכל חטא ועון ובזה הטיבו אשר דברו ויתנו לנו מן הזרעונים כלומר לא שתעשה לנו מטעמים ההם ואוכל מבשולכם רק שיתנו לנו מן הזרועים כלומר כמות שהן ועל כן לא אמר ויתנו לנו מאכל זרעונים:

On a Kabbalistic level, the Zohar explains that Daniel (the Zohar also mentions Hananiah, Mishael and Azaryah) was saved from his tests only because he did not allow himself to become unclean due to the foods he consumed:

תָּאנָא, בְּמָה זָכוּ דָּנִיֵאל חֲנַנְיָה מִישָׁאֵל וַעֲזַרְיָה, דְּאִשְׁתְּזִיבוּ מֵאִינּוּן נִסְיוֹנֵי, אֶלָּא בְּגִין דְּלָא אִסְתָּאֲבוּ בְּמֵיכְלֵיהוֹן. אָמַר רִבִּי יְהוּדָה, כְּתִיב (דניאל א׳:ח׳) וַיָּשֶׂם דָּנִיֵאל עַל לִבּוֹ אֲשֶׁר לא יִתְגָּאַל בְּפַת בַּג הַמֶּלֶךְ וְגוֹ'. וְתָאנָא בִּסְתִימָא דְּמַתְנִיתִין, מֵיכְלָא דְּהַהוּא רָשָׁע, בִּשְׂרָא בְּחָלָבָא הֲוָה וּגְבִינָה עִם בִּשְׂרָא, בַּר מֵיכְלָן אַחֲרָנִין, וְדָא סָלִיק לֵיהּ בְּפָתוֹרֵיהּ, בְּכָל יוֹמָא.

So, Daniel was eating seeds in order to "stay on the side of the good", e.g those who eat what is pure, kosher and permitted (Tanya, Iggeret Hakodesh, Epistle 26). This same concept is found in the Gemara (Megillah 13a), where it says that just as Daniel was eating seeds, so was Esther eating seeds, in order to prevent eating non-kosher food:

He gave her vegetables, which did not pose a problem with regard to the kosher laws. And so it states with regard to the kindness done for Daniel and his associates: “So the steward took away their food and the wine that they should drink; and gave them vegetables” (Daniel 1:16).

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    Todah Rabbah. Through your studies have you ever come across "the meat" being something else other than physical food?
    – יהודה
    Jan 30, 2022 at 16:58
  • You're welcome. No, I did not came across such an explanation. Also, do we have the certainty that "the kings food" was meat? It might have been other non-kosher food. However, please note the commentary from the Malbim to pasuk 1:15 where he writes that meat and wine will make the body "fat". So, I think it was meat.
    – Shmuel
    Jan 30, 2022 at 18:01

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