's Kashrut Class - Permitted Meat

PATH : Chelm -> Jewish -> Kashrut -> l2 - allowed meat

Lesson II - Permissible and unpermissible meat

IV. Permissible and unpermissible meat

One of the major limitations on meat is the limitation to "pure" animals for meat. Animals are divided into four major categories for permissibility.

  1. Mammals - Mammals must have both cloven hooves and chew their cud. This includes many domesticated animals including cows, goats and sheep. It also include a few non-domesticated animals as in many types of deer and even giraffes. If they have one but not the other they are not clean. Specifically mentioned in this category are pigs, camels, rabbits, and the rock coney.

  2. Fish - fish must have both fins and scales. To have one without the other renders the fish unclean. This means many commonly eaten water animals such as shellfish, crab, shrimp, lobster, shark, marlin, catfish are unkosher. I refer you to the guide in your book for a complete list. There are two fish worth mentioning. These are swordfish and sturgeon. Both of these fish have scales as young fish, but lose them later in life. The Orthodox say these two fish are unkosher for this reason, the Conservative CJLS permits them to be eaten.

  3. Insects - The Torah lists four types of locust that are considered kosher. As Hertz says in his commentary on Leviticus 11:22, "None of the four kinds of locust mentioned is certainly known. For this reason also, later Jewish authorities, realizing that it is impossible to avoid errors being made declare every species of locust to be forbidden." I can only think forgetting which locust were meant was more than accidental.

  4. Birds - The kashrut of birds is tricky. The Torah only lists certain birds as being kosher and the Oral Law does not expand it. The kosher birds include chicken, turkey, duck, goose, dove, and pheasant. The Rabbis deduced four rules on what makes up a kosher bird.

    1. It is not a bird of prey.

    2. It does not have a front toes (or tearing talon)

    3. It must have a craw and a double lined stomach that is easily separated.

    4. It can catch food thrown in the air, but it must lay it down and tear it with its beak before eating.

    Most Orthodox subscribe to these rules. There are some groups who as a chumra will only eat those birds listed in the Torah. As a result while most Orthodox will eat turkey, these Orthodox will not.

Oral Law states that only products (milk, eggs, etc.) from clean animals can be eaten. This means sturgeon caviar is considered kosher by the Conservative but not by the Orthodox. There are two exceptions to this rule. These are :

  1. Honey - which is mentioned specifically in the Torah, and

  2. Mother's milk - for logical reasons

While eggs are considered pareve , it should be pointed out that unlaid (bird) eggs are considered meat.
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PATH : Chelm -> Jewish -> Kashrut -> l2 - allowed meat
Last updated on Aug 9, 1999 at 4:57 PM

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copyright 1999 - Steven Ross Weintraub