Kosher food regulations by ProQuest


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									                                                                                                686 inform November 2009, Vol. 20 (11)

       Kosher food regulations
       Joe M. Regenstein                                                          THE KOSHER MARKET
                                                                                  The number of actual consumers of kosher food in the United
       The kosher dietary laws determine which foods                              States, that is, those who specifically look for the special kosher
       are “fit or proper” for consumption by Jewish con-                         mark found on food products, is estimated to be about 8 to 10
                                                                                  million. Only about one-third of the kosher consumers are Jewish;
       sumers who observe these laws. The laws come                               other consumers include Muslims, Seventh-Day Adventists, veg-
       mainly from the original five books of the Hebrew                          etarians, people with various types of allergies (particularly dairy,
                                                                                  grain, and legume), and general consumers who value the quality
       Scriptures. Over the years, the details have been
                                                                                  of kosher products.
       interpreted and extended by rabbis (“teachers”)
       to protect the Jewish people from violating any of                         THE KOSHER DIETARy LAWS
       the fundamental laws and to address new issues                             The kosher dietary laws predominantly deal with three issues, all
                                                                                  in the animal kingdom:
       and technologies. The Jewish laws are referred to                             •	 allowed	animals
       collectively as the “halacha.”                                                •	 prohibition	of	blood
            Why do Jews follow these dietary laws? Many explanations                 •	 prohibition	of	mixing	of	milk	and	meat
       have been given. The following by Rabbi Grunfeld is possibly                     However, for the week of Passover (in late March or April)
       the best-written explanation and summarizes the most widely held           restrictions on “chometz” (the five prohibited grains), and the
       ideas about the subject:                                                   rabbinical extensions of this prohibition to other plant materials
            “‘And ye shall be men of a holy calling unto Me, and ye shall         (especially corn, rice, and soya), lead to a whole new set of addi-
       not eat any meat that is torn in the field’ (Exodus 22:30). Holiness       tional regulations, focused in this case on the plant kingdom (called
       or self-sanctification is a moral term; it is identical with . . . moral   “kitnyot”).
       freedom or moral autonomy. Its aim is the complete self-mastery                  In addition, there is a separate set of laws dealing with grape
       of man.                                                                    juice, wine, and alcohol derived from grape products. Basically,
            “To the superficial observer it seems that men who do not obey        these must be handled by Sabbath-observing Jews. However, if the
       the law are freer than law-abiding men, because they can follow            juice is pasteurized (heated, or “mevushal” in Hebrew), then this
       their own inclinations. In reality, however, such men are subject          juice can be handled as an ordinary kosher ingredient.
       to the most cruel bondage; they are slaves of their own instincts,
       impulses, and desires. The first step towards emancipation from            ALLOWED ANIMALS AND PROHIbITION
       the tyranny of animal inclinations in man is, therefore, a voluntary
       submission to the moral law. The constraint of law is the begin-
                                                                                  OF bLOOD
       ning of human freedom. . . . Thus the fundamental idea of Jewish           Ruminants with split hoofs, the traditional domestic birds, and fish
       ethics, holiness, is inseparably connected with the idea of Law; and       with fins and removable scales are generally permitted. Pigs, wild
       the dietary laws occupy a central position in that system of moral         birds, sharks, dogfish, catfish, monkfish, and similar species, along
       discipline which is the basis of all Jewish laws.                          with all crustacean and molluscan shellfish, are prohibited. Insects,
            “The three strongest natural instincts in man are the impulses        with a few exceptions, are also prohibited. Consequently, carmine
       of food, sex, and acquisition. Judaism does not aim at the destruc-        and cochineal (natural red pigments derived from insects) are not
       tion of these impulses, but at their control and indeed their sanc-        used i
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