Is there a known reason for keeping kashrut or is it a set of guidelines proposed by sages who we respect and don't question the logic behind?

Is there anything in the Torah that suggests kashrut?


These prohibitions come from the Torah, Leviticus 11. The sages added boundaries and stringencies but the source is from the Torah.

There are explanations given behind Kashrut, although the Torah does not explain them, nor are they dependent on the explanations.

For one explanation, Rabbi S. R. Hirsch, in Horeb (Chukim ch. 68 paragraph 464) says that the laws of Kashrut are because "you are what you eat," i.e. imbibing something symbolizes and in a certain respect creates an internalization of that thing. Therefore, vicious animals are prohibited to ingest because it internalizes viciousness. Rather, kosher animals are gentle - split hooves cannot be used as predatory, and chewing cud gives a certain nature of contentment with very little. Similar ideas are explained for all the types of non-Kosher (fish, creepy crawly things, etc.).

  • +1 Thanks for your answer. I remembered your explanation yet could not remember its source. – Gershon Gold Jan 21 '14 at 19:07

The Torah definitely talks about Kashrus. The Torah tells us which animals, fowl, fish are permitted and forbidden. Not to mix meat and dairy. Not to eat any bugs. There are additional Rabbinic prohibitions that were added for assorted reasons. For example Yayin Nesech, Bishul Yisrael, etc. The Torah does not give reasons for these prohibitions, however some of the earlier commentaries do attempt to explain why some things were forbidden. However all the Rabbinic add ons are clearly explained.


First, a big YES to YEZ's answer! All I can do is supplement it with additional info...

1) The only open reason given in the Bible for keeping kosher is to be holy, just as G-d is Holy (Lev. 11:44. See also 11:45, 20:25-26, Ex. 22:30, Deut. 14:1-4) The final citation adds that since you're Chosen to be My children, be holy & don't eat these things. MESSAGE: "If you want a relationship with Me, we need to have Holiness in common, so be holy. This includes not ingesting foods I consider unholy."

2) Besides Leviticus 11, the main kosher lists are repeated with a few new details in Deuteronomy 14.

3) The Rabbis had additional traditions as to which animals and birds were not kosher. For example, any bird with an additional talon is considered a bird of prey & thereby non-kosher. Also, any animals that trample other animals (not in self-defense) are automatically non-kosher.

4) If the idea of kosher was to battle trichinosis, more cooking would suffice. Still, this would only explain one of hundreds of kosher laws.

5) Many, many other kosher laws are listed individually throughout the Torah. For example, not to eat animals that died of their own accord (Deut. 14:21), not to eat animals that had been killed by other animals (Exodus 22:30), to slaughter animals by a pre-determined method (Deut. 12:21), to remove the lifeblood & not consume it (Lev. 17:10-14) - which we do by soaking & salting, not to eat meat cooked with milk (Ex. 23:19 & 34:26, Deut. 14:21), not to cook in non-kosher utensils until they're kosherized (Numbers 31:23), Kosher for Passover (Ex. 12:20), etc.

6) There are other kosher laws of which you may be unaware, but which must be considered by Kashruth organizations such as OU, OK, Kof-K, Star-K & CRC in their supervisory capacity. For example, not to eat produce of Israel until it's been properly tithed, not to eat the first 3 years of fruits a tree or vine produces (Lev. 19:23-25), not to graft different fruits or animals together, not to eat the new year's produce until after the first day of Passover has passed, etc.

(If you have any interest in kosherizing your home, or make a move towards greater kosher awareness, call your local Chabad or Orthodox Rabbi. Almost all will be glad to help & guide!)

  • [If you appreciate my answer you could favor it with an upvote :) ] – Y     e     z Feb 5 '14 at 19:35

There have been some scientific approaches towards Kashrut (for example there are some worms in pork which may find their way through your body ... ). In the end it's a Mitzvoth and it's a manner of self inner control and trying not to eat everything.

PLUS => Kosher meat has better taste! (in my opinion).

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    You can tell how the chicken was Shechted? Wow! You're holy!! – Shmuel Jan 21 '14 at 21:41
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    @ShmuelBrin, I'm sure he meant the salting. – Yishai Jan 22 '14 at 0:02
  • @Yishai why can't you just salt your meat before cooking? – Shmuel Jan 22 '14 at 0:22
  • @Yishai ...or roast it? – Double AA Jan 22 '14 at 13:43
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    @ShmuelBrin I was told once (in a cooking, not halachic, context) that salting meat immediately (as we do for kashrut) and salting it later (and possibly after a freeze-thaw cycle) taste different. (I can't speak to the chemistry, so I've no way to know if that's actually correct or just a perception.) – Monica Cellio Jan 22 '14 at 15:54

When the Torah tells us not to eat Trefa, one of the results is that we can't feed ourselves by being hunters (nearly all our forefathers were shepherds & herdsmen). I guess that provides a moral explanation - the Torah wants us to be like Yaakov, and not a hunter like Esav.

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    It's okey to downvote, but I would like to know why – Alaychem Jan 22 '14 at 9:34
  • I don't agree with it, but some people around here down vote legitimate answers that lack any sources. – Yishai Jan 22 '14 at 14:36
  • @Yishai, It will have a source after I'll publish my first book. – Alaychem Jan 24 '14 at 6:50
  • You COULD set traps though... I voted up, but your answer is limited in scope & doesn't explain bugs, seafood, snails, etc. - just deer, bison & giraffe. It wouldn't stop fox hunting either, just yummy possums... – RavingRabbi Feb 4 '14 at 21:22

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