By: Rabbi Yaakov Luban
The term kosher means "clean, fit or proper." Its origins can be traced back to dietary guidelines referenced in the Bible. These rituals were highly regarded and are still followed today, thousands of years later. The exacting attention to preparation and unmatched old world flavor explain why more than two-thirds of all kosher products are bought by non-Jewish consumers for their superior quality and excellent taste.
What are some of the laws governing kosher food?
1. Only healthy animals can be slaughtered for use in kosher foods. Kosher species must have split hooves and chew their cud; this includes cattle, sheep, goat and deer.
2. Only certain birds are considered kosher in the United States. Chicken, duck, goose and turkey.
3. Lobster lovers might be dismayed to find that for a fish to be kosher, it must have fins and easily removable scales. In most cases, scales must be present on the fish in order to be purchased by the consumer. There's more. If a fish monger isn't kosher, that means his cutting implements and machines aren't kosher either. If it is to be considered kosher food, it must be prepared with kosher equipment.
4. Fish and meat cannot be served together.
5. Milk and meat cannot be served together.
6. Processed food must be prepared in the presence of a rabbi.
7. Poultry and meat must be slaughtered under strict guidelines called "shechita." This means the animals are slaughtered without pain. Only those who are trained and qualified are allowed to slaughter kosher animals. Once the animal is no longer alive, another team of experts will examine the animal to be sure the animal is without illness, abnormalities or anything else that can be considered unsanitary. The lungs in particular must be pure. In addition, all blood and most fat must be removed. If defects are discovered, the meat is rejected.
Kosher inspection begins while the animal is still alive and continues until the finished product leaves the plant. This system operates under the diligent and watchful supervision of kosher inspectors, who stringently control the process from slaughter through shipping. The product is continually inspected throughout every step of the process.
8. Families who eat only kosher food must use two separate sets of utensils, pots, pans and dishes. One set is for poultry or meat, and another is set for everything else. In addition, these dishes and utensils can't be washed together. If a kitchen has two sinks, it is an ideal setup for a kosher family. If not, one set of dishes must be washed; the water emptied and sink scrubbed before the other set can be cleaned. Dishes and utensils must be dried using separate racks or dishtowels.
There are many other rules to be followed for anything to be considered kosher food. Suffice it to say that if one is purchasing prepared food, one must examine the packaging to be sure the food is labeled kosher. If the package says ‘’kosher style’’ it does not mean it is kosher. Only a kosher symbol (stamp) indicates strict supervision of the kosher product, such as OU, OK, Star K etc.
Kosher food has a strong positive effect on the mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing of a person. Kosher food makes the mind and heart pure and focused.
By: Rabbi Yaakov Luban