In Leviticus 3-17 it states:

All fat is the lord's. It is a law for you for all time throughout the ages, in all your settlements: you must not eat any fat or any blood.

כָּל-חֵלֶב לַיהוָה חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם, בְּכֹל מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם כָּל-חֵלֶב וְכָל-דָּם, לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ


Does this mean we are supposed to remove all the fat from meat as we do blood, or is it specifically talking about the sacrifices?

2 Answers 2


Chelev (the word translated as "fat" in the quoted verse) in Halacha refers to certain fats which in a sacrifice are offered on the altar and in regular meat are forbidden to be eaten, while Shuman refers to other fats which are completely permitted. A list of which fats on which body parts are in which category is something which pretty much can only be taught with a dead cow/sheep in front of you or some really good pictures.

If you buy certified kosher meat then they have already removed the relevant Chelev or are selling you meat from a part of the animal in which no Chelev can be found.

  • How do we know that "Chelev in Halacha refers to certain fats"? The pasuq only says חלב.
    – Lee
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 6:40
  • @Lee How do we know that חלב doesn't mean milk?
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 14:19
  • 1
    I don't know. That's why I asked, because I thought your answer could benefit from a source. If such an interchange would be better suited as a question and answer, I'm happy to pose it.
    – Lee
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 14:20
  • Does the law still apply, considering the fact that sacrifice of any kind has been impossible since the destruction of the second temple? Eating chelev was forbidden because it was reserved for sacrificial offerings to God, but we can't use them in this way anymore, so we should treat them like the foods He considers abominable, I.e., by throwing them away?
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 2:44
  • @wad they are still reserved for that purpose. Reservation doesn't mean it is likely to be used soon. You don't need to throw it away. The verse explicitly allows using it for other purposes and it indeed traditionally was used for lamps.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 12, 2018 at 1:13

Slide 28 of this presentation quotes Rabbi Avraham Fischer of the OU:

Chelev refers to the outer layer of fat called suet. The prohibited chelev is the abdominal fat on the stomach, kidney, and flank. It can be peeled away like a skin. The rest of the fat which is permissible is called shuman.

Chelev or Suet is used in occasional cooking (non kosher, obviously) such as French fries. It is also used for making tallow which is still used in some candle products. Suet was also sometimes used as engine lubricant, years ago. In some places, it is also used as a salve for sore skins and blisters. (Perhaps, @Shokhet can comment on what happens to the chelev that is removed by butchers - is it sold for such commercial use?)

As to an answer to the title of the question - according to most nutritionists I've spoken to, only Omega 3 fats are the ones you're "supposed" to eat. Kishke is not one of them, BTW :-P

  • As I understand it, kosher butchers are permitted to sell chelev - presumably to gentiles?
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 2:50

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