The word ‘kosher’ refers to those foods that align with the Jewish regulations of the diet based on dietary law. They are derived from Leviticus Chapter 11 and Deuteronomy Chapter 14:3-21 where some foods are termed as appropriate while others are inappropriate for Jewish consumption.
Regulations governing kosher, to many Jews are not only about the safety of food or health. It also pertains to critical awe, respect, and sticking to the tradition of religion. It, therefore, means that not all communities of Jew follow and stick to kashrut (the strict dietary laws). A portion of some individuals may choose to adhere to specific rules while some may not follow any at all. In this article, you will learn more about kosher and what it entails.
What is Kosher?
In Hebrew, ‘kasher’ is used to refer to anything fit, pure, and suitable for human consumption. Therefore, the word ‘kosher’ is the English derivative of ‘kasher’. In early Jews days, laws governing the kind of foods they should and should not eat were given to them by God. These are the laws that kosher was founded upon. Kashrut is a term used to collectively refer to these laws. They are found in sacred writings of the Jews known as the Torah. According to Oxford Bibliographies, these laws are supposed to be passed down to the next generations via oral traditions for practical application.
For the Jews, dietary laws of kosher are meant to be followed to the latter regarding foods that are allowed and those that are forbidden. That said, kosher also governs strictly the production, processing, and preparation of permitted foods before consumption.
Combination of Some Foods are Not Permitted
Based on kosher, combination or pairing of certain foods are strictly banned. These guidelines are especially applied to meat and dairy. Kosher thus has three main divisions of food:
Meat or fleishig: These include bones, products made from mammals and fowls, or both bones and such products.
Dairy or milchig: Yogurt, cheese, milk, and butter.
Pareve: This division is composed of any food that is neither meat nor dairy, encompassing eggs, fish, and foods derived from plants.
Therefore, in Jews, the traditional category of any food under meat can never share the same table with or consumed together with any product of dairy meal. Additionally, when a utensil or equipment had been used to prepare or clean meat it must not be put together with those of meat and dairy. This extends even to sinks where they are washed.
According to the Jewish customary guidelines, one must wait for a considerable amount of time to pass after eating meat and before taking any dairy product. The specific length of time may be varied but must not be less or more than one and six hours.
Kosher rules may be compromised when it comes to combining items used to prepare pareve. They can be used to prepare or combined with meat or dairy then be classified as meat.
Permitted Animal Products
More is still entailed in kosher. It has rules that govern foods that are based on animals. They also guide on how these animals should be slaughtered and prepared. Dairy and milk products are deemed as a separate division and therefore they should not be eaten or prepared together with meat or products of meat. Fish and eggs are treated as pareve and they are governed by specific rules as well.
Meat or Fleishig
In kosher tradition, flesh that is consumable derived from various types of mammals and fowls is termed as ‘meat’. This also encompasses any product gotten from them such as gravy, broth, or bones.
According to kosher, their permitted meat must meet the following guidelines:
Must be ruminant animals with cloves or hooves that are split. These include cows, sheep, goats, oxen, etc.
The flesh must come from the forequarters of the ruminant animal.
Domesticated animals such as chicken, turkey, dove, and geese can be eaten.
Slaughtering of the animals must be done by a shochet- a trained and certified person to slaughter animals following the laws of Jews.
Meat and meat products not deemed as kosher include the following:
Meat from camels, kangaroos, pigs, or horses.
Scavenger or predatory birds like eagles, owls, and hawks.
Any flesh derived from the hindquarters of the kosher animal.
Dairy or Milchig
For milk, butter, yogurt, cheese or other dairy products to be considered kosher, then they must adhere to the following rule:
They must be derived from a kosher animal.
Mixing them with any product derived from meat is never allowed.
Utensils used to prepare them must not have been used in the preparation of meat. These utensils must be kosher.
Pareve (Fish and Eggs)
Foods classified under pareve are considered not be containing milk or meat. Fish and eggs thus fall under pareve but they are as well governed by separate rules.
For fish to be considered kosher it must have fins and scales. Such kinds of fish include tuna, halibut, salmon, or mackerel. Therefore, any other creature of water that lacks fin and scales is strictly prohibited. They may include oysters, shrimp, crab, lobsters, and various types of shellfish.
Furthermore, utensils used to prepare kosher meat can be mixed with those of fish. Fish and kosher meat can also be eaten together.
Individual speculation of eggs is needed to rule out the presence of blood in them. This is because eggs coming from fish or kosher fowls must not contain any traces of blood for them to be permitted.
Rules Governing Foods Derived from Plants
Grains and foods derived from grains must be pure to be considered kosher. Bread of processed grain is not considered kosher since during grain processing the equipment may have been contaminated.
Only in their purest form, fruits and vegetables are considered kosher. Insects are not kosher, meaning that any food contaminated with insects is not fit to be consumed by a Jew under kosher.
Kosher forms a basis for true and ardent Jew worship. For a clean conscience, strict rules regarding foods must be adhered to. Therefore pairing of some foods such as meat and dairy is prohibited. Pareves may be paired with meat. To be on the safe side always confirm for a kosher label.