The endurance artist David Blaine is covered in this video showing the technique where one could learn to swallow certain live animals. And, at will, regurgitate the live animal (for example, a frog).

The main question here is if a Jewish person could do such a thing with a living creature of some kind, that would be ordinarily absolutely forbidden.

Points of clarification would be, what exactly defines a normal case of eating something not kosher, how does eating something alive play into this.

The point of contention here is that one is not eating it at all, or is he?

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    +1 for the question's sheer weirdness Commented May 7, 2018 at 1:07
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    While it's likely bal teshaktzu (forbidden as disgusting) and tzaar balei chayim (causing animal suffering), I don't think swallowing an animal whole is any more derech achila (in the manner of eating) than is swallowing a pill, which is also not considered halachik eating (at least on a bibilical level).
    – Loewian
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 15:19
  • @Loewian I'm not sure that tza'ar ba'alei chayim applies to sheratzim/remasim. Note that those grasshoppers which are kosher don't require shechitah.
    – DonielF
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 21:15
  • @DonielF Why do you assume tzaar baalei chayim is tied to shechita? Most people assume kicking puppies is problematic, though puppies don't require shechita?
    – Loewian
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 4:10
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    @DonielF I'm still not sure from where you're deriving this distinction between suffering creatures? Where do we see that shechita is based on tzaar baalei chayim?
    – Loewian
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 4:33

3 Answers 3


At the end of perek Gid Hanashe (103 IIRC) in Chullin, the gemara cites a question concerning what is considered eating. Do we say its the benefit of the throat or the digestion of the stomach? The gemara ends off seemingly holding that its the throat which determines eating. In fact the Rambam codifies this as halacha regarding eating food that was vomited out and eaten again. It would seem just the fact of swallowing would be enough to make one liable, even though its regurgitated.

Text of Rambam Maachalos Asuros 14:3 : כזית שאמרנו חוץ משל בין השינים אבל מה של בין החניכים מצטרף למה שבלע שהרי נהנה גרונו מכזית אפילו אכל כחצי זית והקיאו וחזר ואכל אותו חצי זית עצמו שהקיא חייב שאין החיוב אלא על הנאת הגרון בכזית מדבר האסור:

Translation (Chabad) : The measure of "the size of an olive" that we mentioned does not include what is between one's teeth. What is between one's gums, however, is included in what one swallows, for his palate benefited from an olive-sized portion of food.

Even if one ate half of an olive-sized portion, vomited it, and then ate the same portion that was half the size of an olive that he vomited, he is liable. For the liability is for the benefit one's palate receives from a forbidden substance.

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    +1 also it would at least for sure be forbidden Derabanan as a Kal vaChomer from טעימה
    – Double AA
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 1:42
  • In context of doing this trick, is this enough to go on to prohibit it
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 15:09
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    @Shmuel please explain
    – sam
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 15:13
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    shelo kderech achila
    – Loewian
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 15:15
  • It is derech achilah ,since it goes down the throat which is the most essential part.
    – sam
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 15:32

While it's likely forbidden as bal teshaktzu (as noted by @mbloch) and as tzaar balei chayim (causing animal suffering), swallowing an animal whole would seem to be no more derekh hanaathan (in the way they are enjoyed) or k'derech achila (in the manner of eating) than is swallowing a pill, which is also not considered halachik eating (at least on a bibilical level). See e.g. Shulchan Aruch YD 155:3:

בִּשְׁאָר אִסוּרִים מִתְרַפְּאִים בִּמְקוֹם סַכָּנָה, אֲפִלּוּ דֶּרֶךְ הֲנָאָתָן. וְשֶׁלֹּא בִּמְקוֹם סַכָּנָה, כְּדֶרֶךְ הֲנָאָתָן אָסוּר; שֶׁלֹּא כְּדֶרֶךְ הֲנָאָתָן, מֻתָּר, חוּץ מִכִּלְאֵי הַכֶּרֶם וּבָשָׂר בְּחָלָב שֶׁאֲסוּרִים אֲפִלּוּ שֶׁלֹּא כְּדֶרֶךְ הֲנָאָתָן אֶלָּא בִּמְקוֹם סַכָּנָה.

With other forbidden (therapeutic food item) one can be healed when mortally (ill) even in the manner they are enjoyed (i.e. normal consumption). And when there is no risk (of dying from the illness), it is forbidden (to partake of the forbidden therapeutic food item) in the way they are enjoyed, but it is permitted (to consume them in a manner that is) not the way that they are enjoyed, except for kilei hakerem (produce of forbidden vineyard mixing) and meat (cooked) in milk which are forbidden even not as they are enjoyed, except when in mortal danger.

This halacha is referenced by kashruth agencies (such as the Star-K) when allowing the swallowing of nonkosher medication:

Those listed above may take non-kosher medication shelo k’derech achila, in an uncommon way of eating, if a kosher alternative is not readily available. Items which are designed to be swallowed without chewing (caplets, swallow tablets, and even gelatin capsules), poor tasting chewable tablets, and poor tasting liquids have a shelo k’derech achila status. For example, if someone has the flu, and the only fever reducer available is a non-kosher gelatin capsule, one may swallow the product. Similarly, one may swallow Celebrex in a gelatin capsule or tablets containing chondroiton (derived from non-kosher bovine trachea cartilage) for chronic debilitating arthritis pain. However, under normal circumstances one may not take non-kosher products if it requires eating in a normal manner (e.g. non-kosher chewable tablets that taste good).

Considering that, as opposed to pleasant tasting, chewed food items, the surface of the skin of a live frog is unlikely to trigger a pleasurable gustative sensory response in the throat, it would seem swallowing even a dead frog whole, should not be considered halachik "eating".

See also here.


There is halacha of Bal Teshaktzu (see e.g., here) which prohibits from engaging in any activity that could be viewed as disgusting. For this reason, the Rema (SA YD 13:1) forbids eating live animals which don't require schechita. But interestingly, even when discussing food, the relevant passages of the Torah, gemara and Rambam do not mention specifically eating. So as long as people consider swallowing something alive disgusting, the Torah seems to forbid it because of "bal teshaktzu".

Vayikra 11:43 doesn't speak of eating (compare with 11:42 which does) but simply of not drawing abomination with something that swarms.

אַל־תְּשַׁקְּצוּ֙ אֶת־נַפְשֹׁ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם בְּכָל־הַשֶּׁ֖רֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵ֑ץ וְלֹ֤א תִֽטַּמְּאוּ֙ בָּהֶ֔ם וְנִטְמֵתֶ֖ם בָּֽם׃

You shall not draw abomination upon yourselves through anything that swarms; you shall not make yourselves unclean therewith and thus become unclean.

Avoda Zara 68b discusses a mouse which fell in wine - even if not eating the mouse, the wine is forbidden

Rav Sheshet said to them: Rav generally maintains that in a case where the forbidden substance imparts flavor to the detriment of the mixture, it is permitted. But here, in the case of a mouse, it is a novelty that the Torah prohibits the flavor from a mouse at all, as it is repulsive and people distance themselves from consuming it, and even so the Merciful One prohibits it.

Rambam MT Ma'achalot Assurot 17:29 doesn't speak of eating - even if 17:27 or :30 do

Our Sages forbade food and drink from which the souls of most people are revolted, e.g., food and drink that were mixed with vomit, feces, foul discharges, or the like.

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    @DoubleAA but that answer on fish is on eating it while the question here is on swallowing without eating. Or did I miss your point?
    – mbloch
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 3:51
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    Downvote because it avoids the primary question of "have I eaten the non-kosher frog" Commented May 7, 2018 at 12:04
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    @DoubleAA 40+ years of experience living in the Jewish world... :->
    – mbloch
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 18:54
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    @mbloch You keep talking about swallowing without eating but I have no idea what that means.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 19:03
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    @DoubleAA isn't this the whole premise of this question? First two lines speak of ingesting a live animal then regurgitating it. Maybe it is not called eating (certainly it is not derekh akhila as most people understand eating). So I found other sources that showed it was disgusting to do so even if we don't call it eating
    – mbloch
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 19:05

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