ASKED FOR KOSHER LAWS
Rob White (rsw@TFS.COM)
Thu, 21 Apr 1994 22:43:00 EDT
In response to the request for info on what is kosher and the rules,
here is an outtake of VERY ORTHODOX laws concerning Kashrut.
Jews have varying levels of observance and interpretation of laws
of Kashrut depending on their branch (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform,
Reconstructionist, Chassidic, etc).
I have left out the religious justification section of the article as
well other info not requested. Please note, that this article was
written for those who do not know kosher, therefore the repeated
comments about needing to talk to a rabbi.
Kosher Eating: Supplement to the Chai Times (February, 1988)
Chai Times is a publication of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
The Meaning of Kosher Terms
1. The word KOSHER means fit or proper. Kosher food must meet all
the various , as specified in the Bible and rabbinic law. Food may
be rendered non-kosher for a variety of reasons, such as the species
of animal, the improper slaughter of processing of meat from an
acceptable species, the mixing of meat and dairy ingredients, the use of
ingredients derived from non-kosher sources, or the preparation with
utensils or equipments previously used for non-kosher food.
2. The word PARVE means denoting a status of Kosher food which is
compatible with all other types of Kosher food. Specifically, this
term has reference to food items which have no meat, fowl, or dairy
items. Thus, a Kosher and Parve product is compatible with all types
of food whether dairy derived or meat derived.
3. A HECHSHER is a symbol or signature certifying that the product to
which it is attached is kosher. In the case of prepared and packaged
products, it usually appears on the label or container. A hechsher
is valid only when given by a reliable and recognized rabbi or religious
communal agency. It signifies that the ingredients of the product are
permissible; that the factory, plant, or store is supervised; that nothing
forbidden has come in contact with the product; or that the establishment has
complied fully with the laws of Kashruth. A product supervised by an
individual rabbi will usually carry his signature or stamp affixed to
a Kashruth guarantee in Hebrew or English. Some examples of these are:
a k with a circle around it, a U with a circle around it, and a k with
a star around it.
4. GLATT KOSHER is a term referring to the status of the meat of kosher
slaughtered animals whose lungs have been found to be free of any
questionable lesions. Today, the term refers to chicken or meat which
has been Koshered and processed in the most scrupulous manner.
5. KOSHER FOR PASSOVER means that, in addition to meeting all the year-
round kosher requirements, a food product meets special Passover dietary
laws, which prohibit the use of fermented grain products ("Chometz") and
similar products ("Kitniyos") during the entire Passover holiday. Many
products which are kosher year round require a special additional
supervision for Passover use.
6. CHOLOV YISROEL refers to milk which is produced under rabbinic supervision
and dairy products made from such milk. The practice was instituted as a
safeguard against the use of milk from non-kosher species of animals. Some
rabbinic authorities consider U.S. government regulations and controls
sufficient to provide the necessary safeguards. This is called "Stam
Only animals that have split hooves and that chew their cud may be eaten.
An animal must have both or these characteristics to be kosher. Among
the more common animals that meet these two requirements are: cattle,
sheep, goats, and deer (ritually slaughtered and prepared).
Birds -- Poultry
The Bible lists twenty-two forbidden birds by name. Generally, one should
eat only accepted domestic fowl such as chicken, duck, geese, turkey,
pigeon, and squab. A rabbi should be consulted before using any other
type of fowl.
Eggs of non-kosher birds or fowl may not be eaten.
All fish that have fins and easily removable scales may be eaten. Eel,
shark, catfish, sturgeon, and swordfish, (for example) and shell fish,
such as oyster, lobster, clam, and crab are, therefore, prohibited. When
purchasing fillet of fish or packaged fish, care must be taken that only
a permissible fish is used.
Fish Roe or Caviar
The roes of non-kosher fish are forbidden. It has been ascertained that all
naturally black roes come from non-kosher fish. Only roes that are
prepared under Kashruth supervision may be eaten.
Insects and Reptiles
The Bible forbids us to eat creatures that creep upon the ground, such
as snails or grasshoppers, as well as frogs and other reptiles.
The prohibition of eating blood applies to eggs. If a speck of blood
is found in an egg, the entire egg may not be eaten or used in any
Before frying or mixing, therefore, eggs should first be broken into a
cup, examined for blood, and then fried or added to the mixture.
All types of cheese (American, Swiss, cream, cottage, and other processed
cheeses) as well as sour cream may be prepared with rennet -- an enzyme
extracted from the dried stomach of a calf. This makes them non-kosher unless
the rennet was extracted from a properly slaughtered and prepared kosher
Jews may drink only wines and wine products that have been prepared and
bottled by observant Jews. One should buy only sealed bottles of wine to
which a properly certified stamp of approval, as well as a certificate of
approval signed by a recognized rabbinic authority or supervising agency,
Since champagne is a carbonated wine, the laws of forbidden wine apply
Grape brandy, as well as grape juice, grape jelly, and other liquors that
use grape products as a base fall under the category of forbidden wines.
Fish or other products prepared in wine sauce are forbidden unless they
are made under rabbinic supervision.
Resorts, Camps, Restaurants
To have full assurance of Kashruth, a hotel, restaurant, catering hall, or
camp should be under the supervision of a recognized rabbinic authority.
One should not depend on the assurance of the proprietor alone that a resort
or restaurant is kosher.
The Kosher Butcher
The kosher butcher plays a very significant, though often unnoticed, role
in carrying out the laws of Kashruth. Although an animal is slaughtered and
properly inspected in the traditional manner by a duly qualified
shochet (slaughterer), the removal of certain forbidden fats, tendons, and
blood vessels, such as those in the lungs and tongue, is still required.
In the case of the tongue, the tip must be cut off. These tasks are
usually entrusted to the butcher. They demand training, skill, experience,
and above all, integrity, and therefore, only an expert and rabbinically
certified butcher should be relied upon.
In view of the butcher's grave responsibility to Kashruth, one should
buy meat only from a butcher who is under the supervision of a rabbi or
Vaad Hakashruth (communal agency). It is, of course, always preferable to
seek out a butcher who is known to be personally pious and observant and
unconditionally endorsed by the local rabbi. An unscrupulous butcher can
render kosher meat unfit simply by neglecting his duty.
Generally, meat and poultry purchased is made kosher (soaked and salted)
by the butcher, and for this reason, one should be doubly sure of his
It is preferable, when possible, to purchase all baked goods from a
baker who is a Sabbath observer. In any event, a rabbi should be
consulted to discover whether a particular bakery is under Rabbinic
Kosher dressed or frozen poultry not prepared by the local butcher
must have a seal (called a "plumba" and usually attached to the wing)
bearing the name of the supervising rabbi. There must be an additional
certification attesting to the fact that the fowl has been properly soaked
and salted, and is ready for the pot without further koshering.
The Separation of Meat and Milk
One of the fundamental principle of Kashuth is the prohibition of
"meat and milk". According to Jewish law:
1. One must not eat cooked meat and milk together even if not intended
for human consumption, e.g. a preparation for a pet animal.
2. It is not permitted to eat meat and mil together, nor may we eat
products containing dairy ingredients.
3. Any foods cooked in a vessel which is "fleshig" (i.e., used for meat
foods) should be eaten with meat dishes and cutlery. Similarly, dairy
vessels and utensils should be used for foods cooked in "milchig"
4. One must wait six hours after eating a meat meal before eating a
dairy meal. In a few West European communities, custom has established
a waiting period between meat and milk of less that six hours.
5. One is permitted to eat meat after dairy foods without waiting a
specific amount of time. However, when hard cheeses have been eaten one
must wait six hour before eating meat.
6. In all cases, one is required to recite Grace, rinse his mouth,
change the table cloth, and remove all dishes of the previous meal
before being served and eating the succeeding meal of meat or dairy.
7. Two or more people may not eat dairy and meat at the same table
without placing some object to act as a reminder and separation e.g.
separate table cloth.
Dishes and Utensils
To avoid any possibility of mixing meat and milk, the Jewish home
maintains two separate sets of utensils; one for the preparation and
serving of meat meals and the other for the preparation and serving
of dairy meals. The two sets of dishes, pots and pans, and eating
utensils should be clearly identifiable and separated by the use of
different closets or shelves. Separate dish towels and kosher cleansers
are also required.
All new glass and metal utensils must be ritually immersed before being
used. This ritual is performed in a mikveh. For details, consult a rabbi.
When cooking meat and dairy foods at the same time on one stove, it
is wise to keep both vessels covered so that drops or particles of one
food will not enter the vessel containing the other. If this does occur,
the Kashruth of the vessel and it's contents are open to question and a
rabbi should be immediately consulted.
Similarly, when a dairy spoon or other utensil is dipped into a meat
preparation or vice versa, both food and utensil should be set aside until
a rabbi is consulted.
Meat and dairy dishes, pots and pans must never be washed together.
Dishes and dish pans should never be placed directly into a sink which
is used for washing both dairy and meat dishes. Separate meat and
dairy trays made of wood, metal, or rubber should be placed on the
sink as a base for dishes. Only kosher cleansers and detergents should
Although glass is not considered absorbent like metal, wood, or pottery,
one should not use the same set of glass dishes for both dairy and meat
foods it at all possible.
Utensils that have been used for forbidden foods may not be used for
kosher foods until they have been "kashered" (made ritually fit).
China and earthenware can not be kashered.
The laws of kashering utensils are far too numerous and complex to be
listed here. Any question arising from the improper use of meat or
dairy utensils should be posted to a rabbi.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City