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Jewish Dietary Laws

Although these are based on the "Torah" (the first five books of the Old Testament), because they are brief, they have left themselves open to all sorts of interpretations and have grown over the centuries to be extremely complicated in their detail.

Most of the important points are listed in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, and go as follows -

Consumption should be limited to:

1.animals that both chew the cud and have cloven hooves.

2.birds that are not on the prohibited list.

3.fish that have both scales and fins.

Creeping things are particularly outlawed - so disallowing crustaceans, frogs and insects; although there are plenty of exceptions - locusts for example are allowed because they jump as well as crawl! While all shell fish are outlawed as they have no scales or fins.

No animal or bird must contain blood, so animals must be killed under the strict supervision of an approved "shechet" (slaughterer) - although poultry is excluded for this need of supervision. Both must be conscious when dispatched, and this must be done by the cutting of the throat by a single stroke. Both must then be opened-up and examined to see that they are blemish-free.

No meals are allowed to be cooked on the Sabbath - this stretches from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. It is permissible to heat-up pre-prepared food, however, as long as it never boils, and the "fire" was alight before the Sabbath began (the heat can"t be adjusted during the Sabbath either).

There are various passages in the Torah forbidding the cooking of kid in its mother"s milk. This has been expanded over time to completely separate the preparation of dairy products from meat.

During Passover, no leavened food can be eaten. This is to signify the flight of the Jews from Egypt under Moses, when the making of leavened bread was probably impossible.

Food judged as passing these dietary laws by a qualified rabbi is called "Kosher" - coming from the Hebrew word kasher (meaning correct). See 'Kosher'

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