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Q: Kosher Rules ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Kosher Rules
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: ciao-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 05 Nov 2002 13:14 PST
Expires: 05 Dec 2002 13:14 PST
Question ID: 99659
What does kosher mean?  What does kashrut mean?  What does shehitah
mean?  How is meat slaughtered to make it kosher?  How can you tell
which foods are kosher?  How is food prepared in an orthodox kitchen?
Subject: Re: Kosher Rules
Answered By: bobbie7-ga on 05 Nov 2002 14:57 PST
Hello Cioa and thank you for your question.

What Does "Kosher" Mean?

“In Hebrew the word "kosher" means "fit", ”proper”,  "ritually
permitted", "clean" or "in accordance with the rules" (particularly in
relation to foods), but also "worthy" or "honorable" (in relation to
people). The word also describes ritual objects that have been made in
accordance with Jewish law and are fit for ritual use.”

Foods may be rendered non-Kosher for a variety of reasons: species of
animal, improper slaughtering or processing procedures from an
accepted species of animal, mixing meat and dairy products, use of
ingredients from non Kosher sources, or the preparation of food with
non-Kosher utensils and equipment.


What does Kashrut mean?

The term Kashrut (Hebrew for "fitness" or "ritual suitability") means
the body or concept of Jewish dietary law. It pertains to the types of
food permitted for consumption and their preparation. Each category of
food is subject to certain of these laws.”
The Jewish Dietary laws:

“The majority of dietary laws concern meat, fish, milk products and
wine (grape juice). Foods are divided into three approximate groups:
meat foods, milk foods, and parveh (neither meat nor milk). Fruit and
vegetables belong to the parveh foods, which can be eaten with both
meat and dairy. Meat foods are those that contain meat in any form,
but no fish, for which separate rules apply. Milk foods cover all milk
products and include even those that have very small milk content.”

“The biblical basis for the Talmudic separation of the consumption of
meat and milk is based on a passage which speaks to compassion for
animals, namely that a kid cannot be boiled in the milk of its mother.
This passage is considered so important that it is repeated on three
separate occasions.”

“Chapter 11 of the book of Leviticus gives a precise list of clean and
unclean animals. Only those mammals that chew the cud and have cloven
hoofs are regarded as clean. Examples of these are goats, sheep,
cattle, species of deer etc. All others are regarded as unclean and
are not supposed to be eaten. Among fish there are both unclean and
clean varieties. Fish with scales and fins are clean. The scales must
be removed by hand without tearing the skin.”

Book of Leviticus - Chapter 11


What does Shehitah mean?  

Shehitah means “Ritual Slaughter”

“To be kosher, animals must be killed by ritual slaughter, called
shehitah. This method is designed to kill animals as quickly and
painlessly as possible.” This ritual is performed by a specially
trained person called a shohet.”


How is meat slaughtered to make it Kosher?  

Shehitah – Slaughtering

“For mammals, the shohet has to cut through both windpipe and
oesophagus and, for birds, at least one of these. The knife must be
extremely sharp and completely smooth, free from notches or any
roughness, since these tear the flesh and cause unnecessary suffering
to the animal. With this method of slaughtering, the animal loses
consciousness within two seconds. The blade of the knife has to be
twice as long as the thickness of the animal‘s neck. Nowadays, usually
knives 50 cm (20 inches) long are used for sheep and goats and 13 cm
(5 inches) for birds. After the shehitah, the animal is checked for
possible physical defects. If the animal is found to have a defect of
which it would have died within a short while, it is regarded as
terefah – ritually unclean – and cannot be declared kosher although it
is in itself clean. Originally, the word terefah meant an animal that
had been torn.”

“In two places the Bible expressly forbids the consumption of blood
(Leviticus 7:26f; 17:10-14), on the grounds that it contains the life
force of all creatures of flesh. After slaughter the animal is
therefore hung head-down so that as much blood as possible can drain
from it. The sciatic nerve of the animal must be removed, and the
heart must be cut open in a few places and the bottom end cut off to
let the blood run out. The remaining blood must be removed either by
roasting over an open flame or by salting. Some organs, such as the
liver, can only be made kosher by roasting because they contain too
much blood. In general, roasting over an open flame is considered the
more effective method. This process of preparing meat for consumption
is called "koshering".


How can you tell which foods are kosher?

In supermarkets you can usually tell kosher foods by a "U" in a
circle, a "K" on the front of the label or the word Pareve or Parve
marked on the label also.

“You will often find a U with a circle around it on Kosher products.
There is also the word Pareve or Parve on many foods, and this is a
form of Kosher labeling as well.  When a food is labeled as Kosher, it
means that the food has been prepared in accordance with the rules of
food preparation set forth in the old testament of the Bible and
formalized in Jewish law.”

“Various organizations called Vaad Hakashrut have been established to
certify the kashrut of foods. These organizations will put their mark
(known as a hechsher) on the products they certify. There are over
2500 hechshers in the United States. The most famous on is that of the
Union of Orthodox Rabbi's (the u inside the o).

Fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, sugar, flour, pure juices (except grape
in certain circumstances), coffee, tea, and other "pure" products.
Canned vegetables canned in water need no hechsher (although one is
preferred). Canned vegetables in syrup, tomato and blended juice,
sauces, and other processed canned food require a hechsher. So does
all prepared food. Also things used with food, such as dish soap,
aluminum foil, etc. need hechshers. It should be noted that raw
vegetables should be inspected and cleaned of insect life.

Be aware. Non-dairy does not mean pareve. Many non-dairy products use
milk derived cassin.

Hechshers without an accompanying mark are usually pareve (except
where obvious like ice cream). Hechshers on milchig products usually
have a 'D' for dairy. On fleishig products they usually have a 'M'.
'P' usually means kosher for Pesah. Every once in a while you will see
an 'F'. This stands for fish.”

Yiddish - "neutral". Describing food that contains neither milk or
meat, or equipment used with such food.

Yiddish - "of milk". Describing food that contain milk products, or
the equipment that is used with milchig food.

Yiddish - "of meat". Describing food that contain meat products, or
the equipment that is used with fleishig food.


How is food prepared in an orthodox kitchen?


“The phrase "Thou shalt not cook a young goat in its mother‘s milk" is
repeated three times in the Bible (Exodus 23:19, 34:26; Deuteronomy
14:21). It forms the basis of a series of dietary laws that require
the complete separation of milk and meat products. The rabbinical
tradition interprets the threefold repetition in three ways. It sees
it as a prohibition of (a) the cooking together of meat and milk; (b)
the eating together of meat and milk; and (c) deriving any profit from
such a combination. Since fish is not counted as meat, it is permitted
to cook it with milk products; but the Talmud, for health reasons,
forbids the cooking or eating of meat and fish together. Milk
extracted from soya beans or coconut may be consumed with meat

In the kitchen:

“The separation of milk and meat applies not only to the foods
themselves, but extends to utensils, kitchen appliances, sinks,
dishcloths etc. Utensils take on the nature of the goods cooked in it
or served on it. Thus, when a beef soup is prepared, the pan is
automatically a "meat pan" and may no longer be used for the
preparation of dairy. A kosher household must therefore have at least
two sets of dishes, pans, tea towels etc. – one for dairy, the other
for meat.”

Interval between eating meat and milk dishes:

“Since the eating of meat and milk dishes together is not permitted, a
certain interval must be allowed to elapse between the two. The
traditions are not in agreement on the suitable interval. Strict Jews
will wait six hours after eating meat before they eat a milk dish.
However, in Western Europe the custom of waiting three hours has
become generally accepted, and in the Netherlands only one hour is the


Additional information that may interest you:

Chelm’s Glossary of Jewish Terms

Search Criteria:

jewish dietary laws
orthodox kitchen

I hope you find this helpful and if there is anything that I've
written that needs clarification, please ask before you rate this

Best Regards,
Subject: Re: Kosher Rules
From: ravuri-ga on 07 Nov 2002 04:00 PST
Not bad for basic info on kashrut (or kashrus).

A couple of corrections: 

The most famous hechsher, known as the OU, is from the Union of
Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.  Their website is  (The Union of Orthodox Rabbis is a very different

The existence of a K on a product doesn't mean it's kosher, only that
the company claims somebody says it's kosher.  Orthodox Jews who want
to use such a product will check out which rabbi or organization
supplies that hechsher, and consult with their own rabbi on whether to
rely on it.

The number of kosher symbols was estimated in 2001 to be 409.  See

There's a lot more good, basic information on keeping kosher, at  In general, Google Researchers
should look for such sites, as opposed to the one used above --, which is not a Jewish site but rather the World
of Tourist Guide Associations.

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