Culture, Justice, Religion

In our mouths and in our hearts: Day 16

Today: What’s kosher
181. “The following you shall abominate among birds — they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination:” (Leviticus 11:13) = followed by the whole list of forbidden birds
182. “Anything in the seas or in the streams that has no fins and scales, among all the swarming things of the water and among all the other living creatures that are in the water — they are an abomination for you, and an abomination for you they shall remain: you shall not eat of their flesh and you shall abominate their carcasses.” (Leviticus 11:10-11)
183. “All winged swarming things are unclean for you; they may not be eaten.” (Deuteronomy 14:19)
184. “All the things that swarm upon the earth are an abomination; they shall not be eaten.” (Leviticus 11:41) = swarming creatures that reproduce normally
185. “You shall not make yourselves unclean through any swarming thing that moves upon the earth.” (Leviticus 11:44) = swarming creatures formed by spontaneous generation (I’m just reporting what the Rambam says)
186. “You shall not eat, among all things that swarm upon the earth, anything that crawls on its belly, or anything that walks on fours, or anything that has many legs; for they are an abomination.” (Leviticus 11:42) = worms that come out of fruit
187. “You shall not draw abomination upon yourselves through anything that swarms.” (Leviticus 11:43) = water creatures
188. “You shall not eat a carcass.” (Deuteronomy 14:21) = an animal that died by means other than kosher slaughter
189. “Its flesh shall not be eaten.” (Exodus 21:28) = an ox that gores someone and is executed
190. “You must not eat flesh torn by beasts in the field.” (Exodus 22:30) = or any animal (even if slaughtered properly) that has any of the defects that render it tereifah or “treif”
191. “You must not consume the life with the flesh.” (Deuteronomy 12:23) = don’t eat any part of a living animal
192. “Do not eat any blood.” (Leviticus 3:17)
193. “Do not eat any cheilev.” (Leviticus 3:17) = forbidden fat
194. “That is why the children of Israel to this day do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the socket of the hip, since Jacob’s hip socket was wrenched at the thigh muscle.” (Genesis 32:33)
195. “Don’t cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” (Exodus 23:19) = don’t eat meat with milk

8 thoughts on “In our mouths and in our hearts: Day 16

  1. I am fascinated by the word “abominate”. I’m going to have to work that one into conversation sometime soon.

  2. I’m curious about all of the “swarming” things… it seems like there’s something inherently bad about anything that swarms, but my only concept of this is flying insects. What else “swarms?” It’s such an odd term. I can’t imagine anyone thinking that eating bees would be a good idea, but what about their honey? How can that be kosher when it’s produced by swarms of bees?

  3. Marisa –
    Israelite taxonomy divided creatures by locomotion:
    Dagim = Swimmers (tuna, dolphins, sharks)
    Chayot = Walkers (bison, giraffes, dogs)
    Behemot = domesticated Chayot (cows, sheep)
    Ofot = Flyers (eagles, hawks, pigeons)
    Sheratzim = Swarmy/creepy-crawly things (most bugs, rodents, parasites, and reptiles)

  4. Fascinating… yes, I generally avoid eating any of the sheratzim! (I’m more inclined to swat at them.) But what about the products of the swarmies? Honey, or silk, if we’re including non-edibles. My thinking is this – I understand that honey is not physically part of a bee, but kosher wine requires that the people producing it be observant Jews. How is this different?

  5. Here’s the answer:
    The Mishna in Tractate Bechorot states:
    “That which comes from something which is Tameh [non-Kosher] is Tameh, and that which comes of that which is Tahor [Kosher] is Tahor.” The product of a non-Kosher animal is not Kosher.
    So why is bee honey Kosher?
    The Talmud in the same Tractate quotes a Beraita (a Halachic teaching from the time of the Mishna) which says:
    “Why did they say that bee-honey is permitted? Because even though they bring it into their bodies, it is not a *product* of their bodies [it is stored there but not produced there].”
    All the Sages of the Mishna agree with this ruling. One of them, Rabbi Yaakov, disagrees with the *reasoning*. He claims that bee-honey is Kosher based on his interpretation of Vayikra 11:21. According to him, the verse prohibits one to eat a flying insect, but *not* that which is *excreted* from it.
    Maimonides codifies bee-honey as being Kosher, as does the Shulchan Aruch.

  6. nearly related: I once read that Milk and Honey are important because they are the only products of animals that we can eat that need no cooking or preparation. I have tried to think of a reason this isnt true, but cannot. Eggs seem to be in the odd grey area. It seems strange to me that eggs are not considered meat, maybe it is the same thing: they are a product. But then why are sturgeon eggs not Kosher but this logic?

  7. eretz zavat halav udevash = “a land oozing with (goat) milk and (date) honey”
    modern scholarship also notes that the manna in exodus 16 etc. may have been sap from the tamarisk gallica var mannifera excreted by ants in the southern sinai.

  8. nathan– I think you could argue that sturgeon eggs are cool or important because they don’t need preparation. But because they are produced by a sturgeon, they are already beyond the pale.

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