This question is not about standards of kashrut -- which are of course a serious topic -- but rather the question of "grave sins" for which the death penalty is prescribed, or the consequence of "Kareth", which seems to be either death or worse.

For reference, consider Leviticus 17: http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0317.htm

And also wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareth#Offenses_punishable_by_kareth

So my question is about fat and blood in non-kosher meat found in USA supermarkets. I heard that blood is in fact drained by most butchers, although it is probably not done in the way kashering prescribed by the Talmud. I don't know about the fat.

I would like to know the answer to the question in the title. Please include facts about non-kosher meat sold in US supermarkets, as well cite solid halacha in order to make a case one way or the other. I hope that eating non-kosher meat isn't an offense on the level of, say, having sex with a menstruating woman, or murder. But I am concerned.

Also, if you have something to say about Kareth and how you view it, please include that, because I think it is relevant in view of the following fact: the vast majority of Jews have at some point eaten nonkosher meat, violated a sabbath, or did something else deserving Kareth. Upon realizing the gravity of the sin, is one supposed snap and stop doing it until the rest of their life, and even one infraction causes the Kareth punishment? There are some opinions that a certain amount of fasting and praying removes one punishment, but these seem to be mere opinions, and for some people an entire lifetime of this wouldn't be enough to make up for the amount of sin, so the whole Kareth concept seems to be, like the Christian hell concept, to be confusing and scary.

  • Karet is only if it's done intentionally, with full knowledge.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 20:37
  • Actually, all opinions agree that repentance saves from Kareth.
    – Ypnypn
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 21:06
  • 2
    I think this question should be split into two separate questions: 1) Does generic non-kosher meat cause Kareth? 2) What should someone do if they spent their life committing Kareth-level sins?
    – Ypnypn
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 21:08
  • Ypnypn I appreciate that point of view. The reason I'd like to keep both parts inside this question is that the definion of Kareth is an integral part of the consequences for eating non-kosher-certified meat in the USA. Two people saying that you don't get Kareth may mean two different things, so a more detailed explanation as to the actual spiritual consequences and possible remedies would be very helpful. Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 21:44
  • Greg, tip for you: if you'd like someone to see your response to their comment, write their username, preceded by the @ symbol. I'm not sure that @Ypnypn saw your response to their comment.
    – MTL
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 4:08

1 Answer 1


The issues that might possibly make it liable to "Kares" would be blood (dam) or certain fats (cheilev).

With regards to blood, not all blood carries a Kares penalty although it is all biblically prohibited. See The Prohibition Of Eating Blood

Kares, is incurred for blood that issues during karbanot, piercing or decapitation, as long as there is redness in it, and so to blood gathered in the heart. This too is lifeblood when it pours forth, therefore penalty over it occurs.

This means specifically when it pours out, excluding what drips or flows lightly at the beginning of the bloodletting and at the end, which is not lifeblood: no punishment of kares applies here.

Blood of limbs and organs such as blood of the spleen and of the kidneys: no penalty applies over it, but only whiplashes. This only applies if the amount of an olive is eaten.

With regards to Cheilev (fat), it has to be the forbidden fat parts and then you have to eat an olive size of it to get Kares and you have to know it's Cheilev, although you'd be liable to a Korban Chatas if you ate it thinking it is Shamen (permitted fat).

At least we can be certain that meat sold in US supermarkets is not Nossar (meat from a sacrifice where the sacrifice went perfectly but the time to eat it has now expired) or Piggul (meat from a sacrifice that, at the time of sacrifice, the kohen sprinkling the blood or the person who offered it has the intention that it would be eaten after its expired time. Kavana to eat it in the incorrect location is Rabbinic Piggul but wouldn't be Kares).

  • Sorry can you define Nossar and Piggul? Also are you saying that the kareth consequences are only for eating blood and fat of meat for korbanot? That would make some sense given the context of the chapter. But other details in the chapter make me not so sure. Can you please back up your claims and expand your answer a bit more? Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 18:23
  • Nosar is leftover meat from sacrifices. Pigul is meat that was intended to be eaten after the latest time. The wrong intention declares its state as Pigul. As for blood, no it does not have to come from a sacrifice to make it kares but it is the blood that was normally sprinkled on the altar, i.e. the blood that spilt of the animal when it was slaughtered.
    – CashCow
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 0:52

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