Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kosher Eating

A friend has recently asked some questions about Kosher eating, about meats in particular. In fact, a lot of people over the years have had questions, "What is Kosher anyway, and what in the world does it have to do with salt?" (Really, you wouldn't believe how many people want to know about the salt!)

Kosher meats are outlined in Deuteronomy 14:3-21 and Leviticus 11:9-12. Basically it seems to come down to the fact that there are clean and unclean meats. If it has a cloven hoof and chews it's cud, it is good for eating (i.e. cow, sheep). Fish with fins and scales are good to eat (which rules out bottom feeders like shrimp, lobster, catfish). Certain birds are also clean (chicken, turkey but scavengers such as vultures are not). Not too complicated, right?

This is where it gets a little sticky. A lot of people will think that they are eating Kosher meats because they are eating the above meats only. They will say, "We eat Biblically. We avoid pork products. We don't need a Rabbi to bless it" But it's much more than that, and really has nothing to do with Rabbinical blessings. When you buy a package of hamburger at the grocery store, you aren't getting a Kosher product. The way that beef was killed, processed and even dealt with afterward isn't Kosher. Although I find this incredibly disgusting, here is a little piece I found for your reading enjoyment...

One of the requirements set to the gentiles in Acts 15 was that they were not allowed to eat meat that was strangled. We also read this in 21:25. An animal that is strangled retains its blood. The blood coagulates within its veins and flesh. Such meat is not suitable for eating. Eating the meat with the blood is a sin. 1Sam. 14:33. The process of killing animals at the abattoirs of today is nothing other than strangling the animals. The animals are either shot in the head or they are shocked to death. In both cases the animal dies. After several minutes or even hours the animals are skinned and the throats being slit. By that time the blood coagulated in the meat and whoever then eats of that meat, eats it with the blood, transgressing YHWH's Torah. The same applies to the killing of chickens and turkeys. They are either shot in the pallet with a sharp needle to paralyze them, or they are shocked to death. By the time the heads are chopped, the blood of those birds coagulated within the meat, making it unfit to eat. It is unkosher. (This paragraph is from

Ok, so not only that. I recently found out that when grocery stores and butchers packaging meat, they used blood - even from several different cows - to keep it nice and red, making it look fresher than it really is. Gross, I know, sorry.

Lots of people have heard that Jews won't eat a cheese burger - no mixing of meat and milk. Many people will go through the painstaking rituals of keeping a "Kosher kitchen" where by having separate dishes and utensils and keeping all dairy and meats separate. We do not practice this rabbinical law. Read here for more on why.

Where do you buy Kosher meats? I know that many of you are not in Washington state as we are. But my friend who asked the original question is. Trader Joes carries some, also certain QFC stores do too. Check out the U Village QFC in North Seattle for a wide range of Kosher products. If you are not in this area there are a multitude of other Jewish communities around the country and many other grocery stores cater to these people, you can find Kosher foods virtually everywhere, even online. The picture at the top of this post shows various symbols that are used to indicate that you are purchasing a Kosher product. Take a look around your pantry, you'll be surprise that they are on many of the packages you already have. Oh, you might be interested to know that if you don't see a Kosher symbol, there is probably a good reason for that.

So, you ask, what's the deal with the kosher salt? It's used in drawing the blood out of the meat during the koshering process, it's not the only salt that a Jew will eat. :)


Jenny M said...

Ok, now I'm officially grossed out. Thanks for the info! Although we eat mostly Kosher-certified meat, I never had read that about the blood coagulating. Yuck!

Grace said...

When we lived in Jersey all the stores had an extensive kosher section. I even visited a few houses with two kitchens just for the purpose of not mixing milk and meat. I wish I had known more about all of this stuff when I lived there.


Tim Layne said...

These thing are all true and they are great to know. However, I want to encourage anyone thinking about taking up a mitzvah (commandment) like eating kosher to do it because we are told to imitate the Messiah in all things not just because it makes sense. We should be faithful even when it doesn't make sense.

Miss Serenity said...

Great post, Mom! I'll have to memorize the link for this to refer people whenever they ask me about "the kosher thing." :)


Sissy Sissy Sue Sue

Mia said...

Thank for sharing--I appreciate all the good info :)

His Handmaiden Laura said...

Thank you for the information!
Peace be unto thee!