Kosher Animals

Aug 8, 2015

בָּנִים אַתֶּם לַיהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם לֹא תִתְגֹּדְדוּ וְלֹא־תָשִׂימוּ קָרְחָה בֵּין עֵינֵיכֶם לָמֵת׃

You are children of Hashem your God. You shall not gash yourselves or shave the front of your heads because of the dead.

ba-NEEM a-TEM la-do-NAI e-lo-hay-KHEM LO tit-go-d'-DU v'-lo ta-SEE-mu kor-KHAH BAYN ay-nay-KHEM la-MAYT

Deuteronomy 14:1

לֹא תֹאכְלוּ כָל־נְבֵלָה לַגֵּר אֲשֶׁר־בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ תִּתְּנֶנָּה וַאֲכָלָהּ אוֹ מָכֹר לְנָכְרִי כִּי עַם קָדוֹשׁ אַתָּה לַיהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא־תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי בַּחֲלֵב אִמּוֹ׃

You shall not eat anything that has died a natural death; give it to the stranger in your community to eat, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people consecrated to Hashem your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk.

Deuteronomy 14:21

Moses tells the people that as children of God, they may not inflict wounds upon themselves or tear out their hair as signs of mourning. Then, he reminds them of the need to eat only kosher animals.


Moses lists several animals which are known to be kosher, adding that those with split hooves and chew their cud can be considered acceptable. He also reminds the people that there are four animals which have one sign without the other and therefore cannot be eaten.


For fish, Moses reminds the people they can only eat those with both fins and scales.


Among the birds, Moses says the people may eat only clean birds, then goes on to list which birds are not kosher. To this list he adds insects.


Moses adds that any animal, even if it is otherwise kosher, cannot be eaten if it dies on its own. Rather, it may be given or sold to a non-Jew. He also tells the people they may not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.


The Israel Bible points out that being the children of God, the Jews are often held to a higher standard. Thus, they may not harm themselves as a sign of mourning, nor are they allowed to eat whatever they want. This is not to imply that the Jews alone are the children of God. After all, He created the whole world and all of humanity. Rather, He chose the Children of Israel among all His children to serve as His ambassadors, spreading His light to the nations. The unique commands which He has given the Jewish people are reflective of that special role. The Land of Israel is the place from which they are to fulfill that role.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the Israelites might be forbidden from eating an animal that dies on its own, but, they may give or sell the carcass to a foreigner who lives among them?

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