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What is Kosher?

Hausarbeit 2004 9 Seiten

Amerikanistik - Kultur und Landeskunde



1. Introduction

2. Kosher Rules
2.1 Meat
2.2. Dairy
2.3. Parve
2.4. Wine
2.5. Separation of meat and dairy
2.5.1. Kosherizing
2.5.2. Passover
2.6. Schechita
2.6.1. At home

3 Conclusion


1. Introduction

In most germanic languages the word “kosher” is used very often and a common word. In German for example, something that is not kosher, is something that is not trusted in or does not seem to be right. On the other hand most people seem to have heard, that kosher has something to do with eating rules in Judaism, but do not know many further details. In fact the word means in hebrew “clean” and “pure”. Jews, though, do not only use the term “kosher” in connection with their eating rules. So the question is, what does a Jew mean when about talking about this purity? In order to understand the eating rules better, we first need to look at a part of the jewish religious philosophy.

Compared to Christianity Jews do not have any kind of asceticism. That means there is no celibacy in Judaism. They do not have monasteries or monks.[1] In Judaism everything is seen as a gift given to us by God. Jews try to enjoy these gifts by making them holy thrugh certain rules. Jews try to make things, which are part of the human nature and which are done everyday, holy and something special. They do not only do this in order to serve God, but also to draw a line between humans and animals. The rules for a kosher living help Jews to make common things holy in everyday life.

2. Kosher Rules

As already said before, kosher is not only about food. Jews do not only want to have a pure body, but also a pure soul and clean spirit. That means that not only food can be unpure, but also things somebody does.So to speak, every action is either pure or not. Most people thing only of eating rules by hearing the word “kosher”. Many know some little parts of these rules, such as that Jews are not allowed to eat pork. It is often said that kosher rules have a medical or hygenic purpose. Many not Jews try to explain the not eating pork rule, with a hygenic reasoning.

Everybody knows that pigs like to play in dirt and for that it seems to be a fact that pigs must be dirty themselves. In fact, in warmer countries pigs often have certain diseases, which somebody might get by eating their meat.[2] In that case, people are able to use such an explaination, but there many rules which can not be connected at all to such a reasoning. A kosher living is not not for medical or hygenic purity, but only for spiritual purity.[3]

2.1 Meat

“For an animal to be kosher, it must have split hooves and it must chew its cud.”[4] That means that for example cows, goats and lambs are allowed to be eaten. Each of these animals fullfills both features a kosher animal must have. A pig, for example, is not kosher. Even though it has split hooves, since it does not chew its cud it is not pure. The Torah says explicit in Deuteronomy 14:3-21 what is allowed to eat and what not in the case a meat. Fowl is kosher, except for some cases.

The Torah does not say exacly what features fowl must have to be pure or unpure, but it specifies 24 kinds, that are allowed. From that, learned men derive what kind of birds are forbitten.[5] Birds of prey, wild fowl and meat eating animals and fowl are not kosher. Some Jews also do not eat certain geese, because they are living on water and on land.[6] Products that derieve from not-kosher animals are not kosher either. That means that for example eggs of wild fowl are not allowed. Any insects are forbitten, aswell as any reptile. Honey, though, is kosher. The Torah makes there a clear distiction, because it is made out of the nectar of flowers. The bees just produce it.[7]


[1] Spiegel, Paul. Was ist koscher? Jüdischer Glaube – jüdisches Leben. München: Ullstein, 2003. p.176.

[2] Spiegel. p. 178.

[3] Spiegel. p.177.


[5] Spiegel. p.180

[6] Wolf Cohen, Elizabeth. Jüdische Küche: Traditionelle Köstlichkeiten. Trans. Uta Angerer. Köln: Bellavista, 2003. p. 8

[7] Spiegel. p. 180


ISBN (eBook)
395 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
What Kosher Jewish Immigrant Culture Literature



Titel: What is Kosher?