Kosher slaughter today is mainly carried out in large factory settings, with each shochet slaughtering hundreds or even thousands of animals every day. The required inspections of organs is also carried out in a similar fashion.

This is very different than the way kosher slaughter was performed for most of Jewish history.

I would like to better understand both the history, and the halacha, behind modern commercial kosher slaughterhouse operations.

When did this practice begin?

Which halachic authorities gave explicit permission to eat meat from commercial kosher slaughterhouses?

Was/Is there any notable opposition, within the kosher-keeping world, to the practice of mass-produced kosher meat?

  • 1
    I don't understand the question. Each person on the assembly line is doing exactly what was done "in the good old days" [from a Halachic perspective,] - what exactly has changed? – Danny Schoemann Aug 25 '14 at 11:26
  • 2
    In addition, salting meat (melicha) has moved. My grandparents (and most of their generation) bought unsalted meat and did the salting at home. Today melicha is all being done in the slaughter houses and the consumer buys already salted meat. – Popular Isn't Right Aug 25 '14 at 12:58
  • 1
    we're talking about an issur d'oraisa here. Eating beef that was shechted wrong, or had treifos on its organs, is just as bad as eating pork. Speeding up the process and doing it repetitively lends itself to more mistakes. It seems strange to me that commercial shechitah just started one day, and nobody wrote a single tshuvah about it. – Jake Aug 25 '14 at 13:27
  • 2
    d'oraisa we can rely on most animals not being traif – hazoriz Aug 25 '14 at 13:36
  • 1
    @shmuel if that was the reasoning to allow mass-produced kosher meat, then please submit an answer, and cite some sources. Thanks. – Jake Aug 25 '14 at 13:37

I don't have the full answer, but here's a piece of it.

Simla Chadasha writes (18:12) that on erev Yom Kippur, when everyone comes with their kapparos, and if the knife would be checked after every שחיטה (like it should be), it might not be checked with the utmost concentration, there is an allowance to check the knife every set of birds (so that nothing leaves without a בדיקת הסכין after, to mitigate confusion).
Matteh Asher there (starts with "עתה" at the bottom of the linked page above) records that because of this קולא, some had started doing so even on regular days, especially in big cities where they are as busy as on ערב יום כיפור. Some of them check every 10-20 minutes, some every 20-30-40 birds.*

It should be noted that when this method is used, that if the knife is found to be פסול after the inspection, all animals killed from the last inspection are אסור; even if there is reason to suspect that the knife was broken only on the last one (eg on all the first ones it only cut the סימנים, and on the last one it hit the neck bone). This is not allowed to be done under ordinary circumstances, but erev Yom Kippur and high-volume plants are excepted.

*Matteh Asher there notes that it's obvious that neither the amount of time nor the amount of birds is what creates a new requirement to check, but rather a number of other factors including the quality of the steel, the hardness of the סימנים, the method of sharpening the knife, and some other factors -- the important thing is that each שוחט should know his own knife and conditions well enough to estimate how long it should take to check his knife, וכל היד המרבה לבדוק הרי זה משובחת.
Kudos to shmuel for reminding me of this point.

  • 1
    Interesting answer. The problem is, what happens now that "high-volume plants" ARE the "ordinary circumstances" ? – Jake Aug 25 '14 at 18:17
  • You could probably infer from common practice that it is allowed. After all, they are in a high-volume plant, are they not? (and this method of בדיקת סכין is widely used today, usually every 40 birds or so; but this will change in different plants) – MTL Aug 25 '14 at 18:46
  • I thought about that. However, Leviticus 4:13 teaches that it is possible for all of klal yisrael to accidentally sin. Maybe that is what has happened in this case? I'm not saying it is, I just want to see a clear tshuvah that deals directly with mass-produced kosher meat. – Jake Aug 25 '14 at 19:02
  • 1
    Fair enough. Hey, I never claimed to have a complete answer ;) – MTL Aug 26 '14 at 13:53
  • the Matteh Asher (their) also gives another (the true) reason (i am paraphrasing) since the knife now are made of better (advancement in steal production) they they do not get ruined after 1 bird. and in truth it dose not depend every 10-20 minutes, or every 20-30-40 birds, but depends on the knife, on how it was sharpened (the angle), the hardness of the trachea, the pressure the shochet is using. and he ends that the one that increases in checking should be praised (as said by nidda) – hazoriz Aug 27 '14 at 15:07

The Kashau Rebbe was opposed to the practice of factory kashrus in America, and himself would not eat meat unless he knew the shochet and saw the animal itself schected with his own eyes. His Hasidim today do not eat beef from anyone, though they eat poultry sometimes because chelev, which one is chayiv kareis for with domesticated meat, is not an issue with poultry, and sometimes are vegetarians (except for eating fish and eggs) due to his concerns about kashrus.

  • 1
    Dam Hanefesh of birds is chayiv kareis. – Double AA Aug 25 '14 at 19:14

mishnah berura 605.2 translation from feldheim

...There are/ localities where many /people/ gather together /for the slaughtering/ and they push one another. The slaughterers are awake all night with resentment and they do not feel the knife /to test it for notches/ owing to the considerable /amount of/ work /that they are required to do, so that the slaughtering/ can lead to /transgression of/ the prohibition against /eating/ neveylah. 1 In /these circumstances/ it is preferable to slaughter the kaparos a day or two before Yom Kippur, as the time /which is suitable/ for /the slaughtering of/ the kaparos is throughout the ten days of penitence. [P.Mg.; see there.] Alternatively, /people in these localities/ should circle money above their heads, which will be considered meritorious for them, so that they should not stumble into /transgressing/ the prohibition against /eating/ neveylah, Heaven forfend. [Someone who is able and wishes /to act/ in the choicest /manner/ should summon the slaughterer to his home in the early morning. Today it is the custom in several localities for the slaughterers to stay awake and go to everyone’s home after midnight until daylight. Therefore, it is proper for the slaughterers to sleep beforehand, so that they will not feel faint. In addition, they must prepare several /valid/ knives which have been examined. At the time when they slaughter they should see that they examine /the knife again/ each time and should not rely on the original examination. Now, even when the slaughtering is /done/ in the home of a householder it is usual for neighboring householders to come there as well. When one slaughters in his /own/ home, especially, many people who have been sent /to him/ with kaparos come together and due to the need to slaughter many kaparos there is insufficient time /for the slaughterer/ to apply himself sincerely to the examination of /the knife/ with the twelve examinations /required/ by the halachah. It is /therefore/ highly likely that due to the need to hurry /with the slaughtering/ he will not be meticulous over the examination. In view of this, the recommended solution is that, at any rate, after all the fowls of one householder have been slaughtered, /the slaughterer/ should examine /the knife/ before the person that /the householder/ sent with the fowls goes away /with them/, in order to ascertain whether his knife is satisfactory /for slaughtering/, as it is forbidden to eat /the fowls/ before this clarification /has been made/. If he discovers that /the knife/ is impaired, he should rule all that householder’s fowls to be tereyfah. 2 ]

1 I.e., the meat of a dead animal which was not slaughtered in conformance with halachic requirements. When the knife has a notch the slaughtering is invalid and the meat of the animal is therefore classed as neveylah.

2 In this context, what is meant is that they are not kosher. In more precise usage, the word implies that the animal or bird was slaughtered in conformance with halachic requirements, but it had a certain defect because of which it could not live, and in view of that it is not kosher.

ps in the bias hamikdash (and mishkan) it was (as today sometimes with corruption) and will soon be (acording to the opinions that we will have karbonois) (without corruption) very Commercial kosher slaughter

  • Thank you for your answer. I understand this to be proof towards a problem of mass-produced kosher meat (even though the case is kaparos, not today's shlachtos) Is that how others understand this? – Jake Aug 25 '14 at 14:51
  • Which halachic authorities gave explicit permission to eat meat from commercial kosher slaughterhouses? every one that gives his certification – hazoriz Aug 25 '14 at 14:54
  • That's it. I'm going vegan! Too many hands involved in my hamburger! ;-) – DanF Aug 25 '14 at 15:16
  • @DanF No need to go vegan. Fish doesn't need slaughter, dairy and eggs are okay too. – Jake Aug 25 '14 at 17:51
  • 2
    simla chadosho (1.8 last third)link that someone that fear of Hashem touched his hart should only eat meat in one of 3 conditions 1. he knows the shochet and that the shochet has all the right midois 2.or he is in a city that he knows that the heads of the city are proper (frearfull and whole) and will not put up a shochet that is not fit 3. or at least check the knife of this shochet before he eats. --- – hazoriz Sep 2 '14 at 14:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .