The constraint of law is the beginning of human freedom. . . . [...] the fundamental idea of Jewish ethics, holiness, is inseparably connected with the idea of Law; and the dietary laws occupy a central position in that system of moral discipline which is the basis of all Jewish laws. In general, the proteinaceous part of these materials is not used. [...] people with allergies to some plants could purchase Passover products from supervision agencies that do not permit kitnyot derivatives, or if less sensitive, they would know that no proteins (the normal source of an allergen) were used.
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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