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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Keeping Kosher–the basic rules and basic whys

In my reading reading reading the last couple weeks, a lot of time has been devoted to learning how to keep a kosher diet. Why do jews keep kosher? Cause god said so. Some people say it was for nutrition or safety, but mainly it was an order from god that didn’t totally make sense.

One reason I find very interesting is that the Kosher diet limits the amount of animals a person can eat, which lessens the cruelty the person extends on the animal kingdom. That is why there are also rules about how the animals are slaughtered–all beef isn’t kosher, because all beef isn’t slaughtered “humanely.”

Why no pork? Meat must come from a mammal that chews their cud and is cloven hoofed. A pig is only cloven hoofed. Isn’t it 1/2 kosher? Nope. No such thing. In fact, it is worse than some other non-kosher foods because it tries to trick you with its hoof.

Here are the basics of Kosher meat: from

The Hebrew word kosher means fit or proper as it relates to kosher dietary law. Kosher foods are permitted to be eaten, and can be used as ingredients in the production of additional food items.

The basic laws of Kashrus (a Hebrew word referring to kosher and its application) are of Biblical origin (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 17). For thousands of years, Rabbinic scholars have interpreted these laws and applied them to contemporary situations. In addition, Rabbinic bodies enacted protective legislation to safeguard the integrity of kosher laws.

The laws of kashrus are complex and extensive. The intention of this guide is to acquaint the reader with some of the fundamentals of kashrus and provide insight into its practical application. Given the complex nature of the laws of kashrus, one should consult an Orthodox Rabbi whenever a kashrus issue arises.

Though an ancillary hygienic benefit has been attributed to the observance of kashrus, the ultimate purpose and rationale is to conform to the Divine Will, as expressed in the Torah.

A. Meat: The Torah states that kosher mammals are those which chew their cud (ruminants) and are cloven-hoofed. The following animal species are among those considered to be Kosher: Addax, Antelope, Bison, Cow, Deer, Gazelle, Giraffe, Goat, Ibex and Sheep. In addition, meat and poultry require special preparation, which will be discussed below. B. Poultry: The Torah does not enumerate specific characteristics to distinguish permitted and forbidden birds. Instead, it enumerates 24 forbidden species of fowl, while all other birds are considered to be kosher. Nonetheless, for various reasons, in practice we eat only those birds which have an established tradition that the species is kosher. In the United States, the only poultry accepted by mainstream kashrus organizations as kosher are chicken, turkey, duck and goose. C. Fish: The Torah establishes two criteria to determine what are kosher fish. The fish must have fins and scales. The scales must be easily removable without damaging the skin. [Generally, scales on kosher fish are either thin, rounded and smooth-edged (cycloid) or narrow segments that are similar to teeth of a comb (ctenoid)]. All shellfish are prohibited. Unlike meat and poultry, fish requires no special preparation. Nonetheless, the fish scales must be visible to the consumer in order to establish the kosher status of the fish. Therefore, filleted or ground fish should not be purchased unless properly supervised, or the fillet has a skin tab with scales attached to the flesh. Furthermore, purchasing fish in a non-kosher fish store is problematic, even if the scales are intact, because the knives and tables are not kosher, and Rabbinic guidance should be sought.

Rabbinic law prohibits consumption of fish and meat together.Processed and smoked fish products require reliable rabbinic supervision, as do all processed foods.

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