Standards of Kosher

Standards of Kosher

One of my readers asked me to clarify the statement that I wrote in an earlier post of the issue of differing standards of Kosher, would I please give an example.


What Does Kosher Mean - RabbitWhat Does Kosher Mean?

When we ask what does Kosher mean, there are issues that are crystal clear in the Kosher laws, and there are grey areas as well. Take an example, rabbit meat. Rabbit meat is not Kosher, and there is no way to stretch it to make it Kosher. Nothing personal against rabbits, but the Torah, the Jewish Bible, says that you can’t eat them.

What is Kosher

On the other hand, the Torah speaks about the reality how a foodstuff can lose its status of being a foodstuff by virtue of becoming dried out and crumbly say, and loses any taste except the taste of dust more or less. Such stuff when it becomes inedible, loses its status of food, and also it loses the prohibition of being non-Kosher food, because it’s no longer food. It’s no longer rabbit meat, it’s dust. Then, assuming other important considerations (which here in this article is not the place to lay everything about what is Kosher on the table), it could be possible from the standpoint of the Kosher laws to use this stuff as an ingredient in Kosher foods if the manufacturer wants because it serves some important purpose.

Let’s say that it not all the way yet to becoming dust, it still retains its status as food, then obviously it retains its status as non-Kosher food. Now, you can imagine that as the foodstuff is drying out, there can be a certain point which is a grey area, which could be debatable definitionally whether this is already not food anymore or whether it still is food. Questions like this can come into play where there could be Kashrus organizations where the Rabbis could say “look, this stuff according to the letter of the law is Kosher. If we want to be extra strict, which is really not a bad idea in this borderline case, there could come a situation that the manufacturer could say ‘the hell with it’ and just start producing products without Kosher supervision at all, and then who knows what will be, what people will start bringing into their homes. Now at least it’s Kosher, call a spade a spade.”

On the other hand, the Rabbis of a different Kashrus organization could say, “the people who eat our Hecher are relying on us to make sure that no non-Kosher food comes into their house nor into their mouths. What does Kosher mean? Our people don’t want even a doubtful prohibition, therefore in the same way that I wouldn’t eat this thing, so also we’re not going to put our stamp on it for others.”

I made up the above scenario, I sucked it out of my finger (as they say in Israel). I don’t mean to imply anything about anyone, and there is much more that goes on in deciding these issues than the simple claims that I presented above. My whole intention is to show that there is a place in the reality of foodstuffs where definitionally speaking there could be disputes. As a teacher of mine once told me, “You’re right that this is a difficult question. But difficult questions are also possible to be answered.”

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