This is the first in a series intended to guide you step by step toward increased knowledge and observance of God’s commandments concerning food, as found in the Torah and as systematized by the Divinely ordained Court of ancient Israel.

The following information is for those who, having already
embraced our Creator’s everlasting Guidance through Moses, the first and final prophet of immutable Divine Law, are now ready to take the next step; so take notes! We are called to live a faith of action.

 

 

FIRST STEP IN KOSHER OBSERVANCE - Introduction:

 

 

Mammals

 

Our Sages taught that we must be careful with our physical health just as we are careful with our spiritual well being, because one who is sick can neither serve God nor do good deeds toward fellow man in the optimal way. That our Creator cares for both our spiritual and physical well being is seen in the Kosher laws.  His love for us is manifest in that He has already provided us with a start up plan for achieving self-control when it comes to eating habits.  The red meats that He has permitted to us for food are those of the Ruminantia, which are found free range in a wide array of climates and geographies the world over, which are relatively easy to raise, relatively hygienic, relatively docile, and which in addition to meat - also provide milk, wool, and horns for special tools and instruments.

 

For more info on kosher mammals, see Hilkhoth Ma'akhaloth Asuroth chapter 1, laws 8 - 13 [Hebrew]

 

 

Fowl

 

When it comes to fowl, just as with red meat, God has allowed those fowl which include the most easily domesticated, bred, and raised in the greatest number of climates, and which are not prone to dragging up carcusses, thereby preventing spread of even more diseases than fowl are already prone to spread.  By not prohibiting fowl altogether, however, He has shown His graciousness toward those who live in conditions where raising larger animals is not feasible, such as the poor and homeless, who may not have the means to acquire and sustain larger animals.

 

For more info on kosher fowl, see Hilkhoth Ma'akhaloth Asuroth chapter 1, laws 14 - 20 [Hebrew]

 

 

Precautions


By specifying these unique animals as the animals we are permitted to eat, God encouraged us in the domestication and cultivation of these particular and most beneficial of species --  looong before greater knowledge of biodiversity was available to man for us to realize in advance the full significance of these laws.  Interestingly, intentional preference in the cultivation of kosher animals is even evident in the account of the bringing of animals onto the Ark.

Now, due to the
prohibition against eating blood or partaking of animals offered in the name of other gods, we are only allowed to eat these permitted meats when they are slaughtered and prepared in the appropriate manner.  There are also certain fats of domestic kosher cattle that we are forbidden to partake of, as well as the sciatic nerve, which all require a greater level of expertise to identify than most people in modern times are aware.  This in mind, until thoroughly expert in the matter, one should only consume meats which were slaughtered by a trained and certified kosher slaughter / butcherer.  In a time of starvation, of course, all laws of kashruth are temporarily suspended for the preservation of life.

 

Kosher Slaughter -- Hilkhoth Shehita chapter 1; [Hebrew]

Blood Restrictions -- Hil. Ma'akhaloth Asuroth chapter 6; [Hebrew]

Fat Restrictions -- Hil. Ma'akhaloth Asuroth chapter 7; [Hebrew]

Sciatic Nerve -- Hil. Ma'akhaloth Asuroth chapter 8; [Hebrew]

 

 

Fish


While making those meats that humans are more inclined to over-indulge in more difficult to prepare in a kosher manner, ...meats that nutrition-science has determined to be more likely to contribute toward the development of various cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis, God has, in His most amazing wisdom and love for humanity, allowed with minimal restrictions, the most abundant meat on earth - scaly fish.  So long as it has scales and fines, as all fish with visible scales do, one can eat it without any special required preparations.  The meat need not be slaughtered in any particular way, nor the blood drained.  None of the fats of the fish are forbidden, nor any of its ligaments.  In making this most abundant source of meat the most easy to prepare and cheapest to obtain, our gracious LORD distinguishes this unique type meat both in our minds and in our wallets, which nutrition-science now reveals to us what our Creator already knew -- that this is the healthiest source of animal protein, richest in essential fatty acids.  Of course, given that even the healthiest of foods can be suffer contamination, when in doubt, moderation is generally the best course.

 

Conclusion

SO, until your income or location allow for more frequent access to kosher red meats, the Kosher laws form a Divine set-up where you’re encouraged toward healthier eating habits, one that consists primarily of vegetables and fish. [1]  And truth be told, even when red meats are available and affordable, Divine mandate obligates us to heed the instructions of our Sages, who have already admonished that serious consideration be given to the nutrition science of one’s time period.  By heeding His food guidelines, we elevate the otherwise mundane act of eating to a preservation of ancient testimony to the greatness of our God.  Worshipful is the Life-giver of the worlds, Creator of edible refreshments in abundance.

 

R' Yosef Eliyah

 

[1] Though it is apparent that the Kosher laws encourage one toward a healthier diet by placing minimal restrictions on the healthiest foods and greater restrictions on foods that are more likely to lead to health problems when consumed in greater portions, it is important to emphasize that there is absolutely no Torah prohibition against eating red meats, so long as they are of kosher species and properly prepared for consumption. One who endangers his life by irresponsibly eating an abundance of any kind of food in amounts that are known to pose a risk to one's health, while not in violation of the kosher laws, does violate the Torah injunction that one guard his life.

 

 

 

 

We are not affiliated with Chabad.org, though we are grateful for its providing Mishneh Torah resources. Aside from the contents of Mishneh Torah, we do not endorse the content of Chabad.org.