's Kashrut Class - Kosher Slaughter

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Lesson II - Laws of blood and slaughter

V. Laws of blood and slaughter

Jews are forbidden to eat blood. These strictures are given to Noah and are further enhanced in Leviticus (17:11, 17:14, & 19:26)

Blood is initially drained at shechita by the shochet. Later the remaining blood is removed by one of two methods :

  1. Broiling - preferred by the Talmudic Rabbis,

  2. Salting - preferred by the Jewish taste buds,

In handling and processing un-de-blooded meat, all utensils should be used only for that purpose, and not for general cooking.

Broiling is the best method of removing blood. Certain meat where blood is prevalent (liver and already ground meat (which wasn't deblooded before grinding)) can only be prepared this way. Ground meat that is mixed with non-meat material can not be kashered this way. The broiling method is as follows:

  1. Rinse the meat. (The vessel receiving the bloody water should not be used for another purpose)

  2. Slightly salt (with coarse salt) the meat on all surfaces (including internal surfaces)

  3. Cook on a open grill above an open flame (an electric burner is considered an open flame for these purposes). The grill and the drippings pan must not be used for any other purpose.

  4. Must cook till a crust forms and the meat is half done.

Salting is the most popular method of kashering meat. This method uses salt to raise the blood and remove it from the meat. Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that only a moderate amount of sodium is left residue in the meat. The procedure for salting is as follows:

  1. The meat can not sit raw for more than 72 hours, nor can it be washed in hot water or frozen before being salted. As in broiling, all utensils used for salting should only be used for this purpose.

  2. Rinse the meat thoroughly.

  3. Soak in cool (not hot or cold) water for 1 hour.

  4. Lay meat on a smooth incline in a special vessel salt completely inside and out with coarse "kosher" salt ("Kosher" salt is not more kosher than any other salt, but receives it name because of its use.)

  5. The gizzard and heart must be cut open and salted on the inside.

  6. Leave salt on for 1 hour.

  7. Rinse the meat thoroughly three times.

As can be seen - it is easier to buy your meat from the butcher presalted. Most kosher butchers will provide this service, many with no additional charge.

Eggs carry two rules that must be followed concerning blood.

  1. Eggs found in a bird are meat and must be salted

  2. Eggs carring a blood spot are considered unkosher. If such an egg is encountered in cooking the food is considered treif, but if there are more eggs without blood spots than with, the utensil is not unkashered.

In addition to blood there are two other parts of the animal that are not eaten. These are :

  1. The sciatic nerve (gid hanoseh). This is due to memorialize the battle between Jacob and the angel, where the angel lamed Jacob. The Ashkenazi Jews believe that the removal of the nerve is from the hind quarters is uneconomic, effectively making it impossible to get kosher meat from this area of the animal (Tenderloin, etc.). The Sephardic have specially trained butchers who know how to remove this nerve.

  2. The fat around the major organs (Chelev). This fat was reserved for the sacrifice in the Temple.

Meat that is to be eaten must be slaughtered in a particular way (Deuteronomy 12:20 states that slaughter method will be taught to us, and the Oral Law supplies the method). A special prayer is recited before the act. The animal must be slaughtered in a way so that they feel little pain. A razor sharp knife with no nicks is used to cut the esophagus, the trachia, the caratoid arteries, and jugular vein in one cut. The animal is then raised so that the blood flows free. The blood then is covered with dirt (as a show of respect as in the Temple sacrifice). Failure to do any of these renders the animal unfit to eat. Because of the complexity of kosher slaughter a specially trained person (shochet) usually does the ritual.

Hunting animals is thus forbidden by Jewish law. Since the animal is not killed ritually, it is unkosher, and it is considered cruel to kill an animal just for sport.

Another requirement is that the animal be of good health and well taken care of. After slaughter, the shochet will examine the internal organs of the animal for adhesions and disease. Any of abnormality will render the meat unfit. There is a question of minor lesions in the lung. Ashkenazi authorities hold that these lesions are allowable and the meat can be eaten. Sephardi authorities hold that the lung must be smooth ("glatt"). Many Ashkenazi Jews follow the Sephardic practice as a chumra. This practice is the origin of the term glatt kosher.

The animal also must be well taken care of. The practices of mass farming of animals (as with chickens) and the gross mistreatment of animals for food preparation (as with veal industry) renders animals unfit for use. The Torah (and Talmud) are rife with regulations to prevent animal cruelty (e.g. you must feed your animals before you yourself eat, you must not slaughter a parent before the young or vice versa, you can not harness an ox and a donkey together, you can not muzzle an animal being used to tread grain, etc.). Because of kashrut's identification as a reverence for life, these laws are often studied as part of kashrut.

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Last updated on Aug 1, 1999 at 10:01 PM

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copyright 1999 - Steven Ross Weintraub