Leviticus 11 describes which animals can be eaten and which cannot. In regards to the animals that cannot be eaten, is there any indication that it also applies to things that is produced by the unclean animal, such as pig's milk or unfertilized ostrich egg or honey?


2 Answers 2


Mishnah Bekhorot 1:2 records the general principle:

That which emerges from the non-kosher animal is non-kosher and that which emerges from the kosher animal is kosher

Therefore, pig's milk and ostrich eggs cannot be consumed.

Honey is an exception.

Talmud Bavli Bekhorot 7b records a debate as to the rationale behind the permission to consume honey, but according to Jewish law (halakhah) it can certainly be consumed. (See e.g. Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, Laws of Forbidden Foods 3:3.)


This is discussed in Talmud Bavli Bechorot 7b

הטמא והני נמי מינא דטמא הוא ואיכא דאמרי דסוסים וגמלים לא קא מיבעיא להו דלא שתו אינשי כי קמיבעיא להו דחמור דשתו אינשי ומעלו לירקונא מאי אמר להו רב ששת תניתוה היוצא מן הטמא טמא והיוצא מן הטהור טהור והני נמי מטמא קאתי מיתיבי מפני מה אמרו דבש דבורים מותר מפני שמכניסות אותו לגופן ואין ממצות אותו מגופן הוא דאמר כר' יעקב דאמר דובשא רחמנא שרייה דתניא ר' יעקב אומר (ויקרא יא, כא) אך את זה תאכלו מכל שרץ העוף זה אתה אוכל ואי אתה אוכל שרץ עוף טמא שרץ עוף טמא בהדיא כתיב אלא שרץ עוף טמא אי אתה אוכל אבל אתה אוכל מה שעוף טמא משריץ ואיזה זה זה דבש דבורים

Translation from Sefaria (The Wiliam Davidson Talmud (Koren - Steinsalz)

The non-kosher animal [min hattamei], one can infer that any type [min] of non-kosher substance is included. And these fluids, i.e., the urine of a donkey, are also a type of non-kosher substance, as they resemble the milk of a donkey, which is forbidden.

And there are those who say there is a different version of the discussion about the urine of a donkey: With regard to the urine of horses and camels, the students of Rav Sheshet did not raise the dilemma, because people do not drink it. When they raised the dilemma it was with regard to the urine of a donkey, which people drink and which is beneficial for curing jaundice. What, then, is the halakha?

Rav Sheshet said to them: You learned the answer to your dilemma in the mishna: That which emerges from the non-kosher animal is non-kosher and that which emerges from the kosher animal is kosher, and these fluids also come from a donkey, which is non-kosher. Therefore, they are forbidden.

The Gemara raises an objection from a baraita: For what reason did the Sages say that the honey of bees is permitted? It is because they bring the nectar from the flowers into their body, but they do not excrete it from their body as a bodily excretion. So too, the urine of a donkey is not an excretion produced by the body itself. Rather, it is simply ejected in the same form that it entered the body. Why, then, should it be forbidden?

The Gemara answers: Rav Sheshet stated his answer in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Ya’akov, who says that with regard to honey, the Merciful One permits it as an exception to the principle that a substance that emerges from a non-kosher animal is non-kosher.

This is as it is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Ya’akov says that it is stated: “Yet these may you eat of all winged creatures” (Leviticus 11:21). The word “these” indicates that you may eat these, but you may not eat a non-kosher winged creature. The Gemara asks: Why is this inference necessary? The prohibition against eating a non-kosher winged creature is written explicitly: “All winged creatures that go upon all fours are a repugnance to you” (Leviticus 11:20). Rather, the inference must be understood as follows: You may not eat a non-kosher winged creature, but you may eat that which a non-kosher winged creature discharges from its body, and what is that? That is the honey of bees.

To explain this rather long text: The discussion revolves around whether substances derived from non-kosher animals are themselves non-kosher, and Bechorot 7b examines this through the example of the urine of a donkey. Initially, it is stated that any product from a non-kosher animal is non-kosher. This applies to donkey urine, which some people drink for medicinal purposes. Rav Sheshet refers to a mishna to explain that since the donkey is non-kosher, its urine is also non-kosher.

However, the Gemara raises an objection based on the example of bee honey, which is permitted even though bees are non-kosher. The reasoning is that bees do not produce honey as a bodily secretion but rather transform nectar collected from flowers. Hence, it is allowed. And Rabbi Ya’akov provides a scriptural basis for this exception, explaining that certain products, like honey, are explicitly permitted by the Torah despite being processed by non-kosher creatures.

So to summarize it further, either we follow the position that honey is a divine exception (Rav Sheshet and Rabbi Ya'akov) which we can infer from a Beraita or a Beraita directly. The Beraita states that if it is directly from a non-kosher animals, such as milk or eggs, which are from the animal itself, then it's kosher or non-kosher status is transferred. But when the product is indirectly from the animal, such as honey, which is really from the flower, then it is permitted. Even though the nectar in the honeycombs is broken down and transformed into honey by enzymes in the bee, the nectar is never actually digested by the bee. So the honey is not a product of the bee itself—as is milk.

  • This does beg the question that if we still believed there was a legitimate medical benefit to the urine of a donkey, why this would not be permitted under the principal of pikuach nefesh.
    – Mike
    Commented Jul 1 at 12:38
  • @mike Pikuach nefesh applies in cases where there is risk to life, and in such a case (almost) all ordinarily forbidden food would be permitted. The discussion in the gemara here relates to the use of forbidden foods which provide medical benefit but are not life-saving.
    – Joel K
    Commented Jul 1 at 12:50
  • @JoelK; good point; I've tried to summarize both opinions now
    – RonP
    Commented Jul 3 at 14:35

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