Kosher Foods: What Animals Can’t Be Eaten?
It is not always as simple as you think to keep kosher, i.e. only eat kosher foods permitted by the Torah. Many animals are not considered Kosher Foods simply as they were not common during the time of writing of the Torah…..
Kosher Foods: Animals that may not be eaten….
Of the “beasts of the earth” (which basically refers to land mammals with the exception of swarming rodents), any animal that has cloven hooves and chews its cud [Lev. 11:3; Deut. 14:6] is considered Kosher Food.
Any land mammal that does not have both of these qualities is forbidden.
The Torah specifies that the camel, the rock badger, the hare and the pig are not Kosher Foods because each lacks one of these two qualifications. Cattle, sheep, goats, deer and bison are classified as kosher foods.
Of the things that are in the waters, you may eat anything that has fins and scales [Lev. 11:9; Deut. 14:9]. Thus, shellfish such as lobsters, oysters, shrimp, clams and crabs are all forbidden (NOT Kosher Foods).
Other fish ARE Kosher Foods like tuna, carp, salmon and herring are all permitted.
Kosher Foods: Birds
For birds, the criteria is less clear. The Torah provides a list of forbidden birds (Lev. 11:13-19; Deut. 14:11-18), but does not specify why these particular birds are forbidden. All of the birds on the list are birds of prey or scavengers, thus the rabbis inferred that this was the basis for the distinction. Other birds are permitted, such as chicken, geese, ducks and turkeys. However, some people avoid turkey, because it is was unknown at the time of the giving of the Torah, leaving room for doubt.
Kosher Foods: Winged Insects
Of the “winged swarming things” (winged insects), a few are specifically permitted [Lev. 11:22], but the Sages are no longer certain which ones they are, so all have been forbidden. There are communities that have a tradition about what species are permitted, and in those communities some insects are eaten.
Rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and insects (except as mentioned above) are all forbidden. Lev. 11:29-30, 42-43.
Kosher Foods: Checking Cattle Lungs
Some authorities require a post-mortem examination of the lungs of cattle, to determine whether the lungs are free from
adhesions. If the lungs are free from such adhesions, the animal is deemed “glatt” (that is, “smooth”). In certain
Kosher Foods: Derived Product
Any product derived from forbidden animals, such as their milk, eggs, fat, or organs cannot be eaten. Rennet, an enzyme used to harden cheese, is often obtained from non-kosher animals, thus kosher hard cheese can be difficult to find.
I hope this short introduction helps you understand the difficult and complicated nature of eating Kosher Foods.