The other day, someone commented on this blog about the difficulty of eating a kosher diet without having a Jewish kosher food store nearby. I want to discuss this issue a bit and dispel this notion.
First off, there are two types of “kosher.” They are rabbinic kosher, and biblical kosher. One who doesn’t know better would probably think these two are the same, but they’re not. The biblical standards for clean and unclean meats (or eating kosher) are very minimal and are found primarily in Leviticus chapter eleven of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). There we learn what animal meat is clean (and permissible to eat), and what meat is unclean (and not permissible to eat). Elsewhere in the Torah, we learn that YHVH’s also forbids his people from eating blood (Gen 9:4; 17:12, 14; Deut 12:23), organ fat (Lev 3:17; 7:23), and animals that die of themselves (e.g., because of disease or old age) or that have been killed by other animals ( Exod 22:31; Lev 7:24; 17:15; 22:8; Deut 14:21). Basically, these are the biblical dietary standards regarding clean and unclean meats.
What types of animals does the Bible permit us to eat? Simply stated, only land animals that have cloven hooves and chews their cud, only fish that have fins and scales, only fowl-type birds, and only insects that are in the grasshopper or locust family are permitted for human consumption
Some might wonder about the Jewish rabbinic tradition of not eating meat and dairy. This is based on the Torah-law that forbids the eating a kid (or young goat) that has been boiled in its mother’s milk (Exod 23:19; 34:26; Deut 14:21). This law has been understood to refer to any young kosher animal in addition to goats. The problem with this passage is that it has several possible interpretations. They are as follows:
- It’s unlawful to eat a kid that hasn’t been weaned.
- It’s unlawful to boil meat in milk from its mother.
- It’s unlawful to eat any milk and meat products together.
The rabbinic Jews have primarily taken the third explanation for their interpretation of this law. However, this is a faulty interpretation in light of the fact that Abraham fed the three heavenly messenger (one of whom was YHVH — or the preincarnate Yeshua the Messiah) meat and dairy together (Gen 18:6-8). It’s highly improbable that Abraham who was Torah-observant (Gen 28:5) violated the Torah in this instance or that YHVH went against his own law in eating meat and dairy together. So we reject the rabbinic interpretation of this Torah-law that allegedly prohibits the consumption of meat and dairy together as nothing more than an unbiblical man-made doctrine. People like to debate this issue, but it’s clear in my mind.
Since we’re on the subject of traditions of men, without going into details, the rabbinic Jewish standards for kosher diet go well beyond anything the Bible says and include all kinds of laws and regulations that are extra-biblical. One is welcome to follow these rules if they want, but from a biblical perspective, it’s not required. That’s why we make the distinction between “biblical kosher” and “rabbinic kosher.” My family follows the former and not the latter. There’s no indication that Yeshua and his disciples subscribed to the rabbinic kosher laws either. Yeshua may even be alluding to some of these man-made traditions when he countered the Jews’ traditions of washing ceremonially before eating (Mark 7:1–5).
So, if one chooses to follow biblical standards of kosher instead of rabbinic standards of kosher, this opens up greater possibilities with regard to where to shop for your food.
My family has been doing biblical kosher for 60 years (four generations), and we shop at regular food outlets.
When shopping for food, there are several things to watch for. This is not a comprehensive list. Through it all, one becomes a well-educated label reader.
When buying raw biblically meat from from the butcher, make sure it’s not touching the pork in the next tray.
When buying red meat, get as much of the blood out as possible before eating. Most of the blood from unthawed frozen red meat will automatically come out in the thawing process. Throw this bloody (“meat juice”) away. When flame broiling red meat, most of the blood will get cooked out, though searing the meat first can keep some of it in there.
For steak and roast-type meat, before cooking, first sprinkle kosher salt (the salt that comes in a box and is comprised of large granules) on the meat and let sit for a while. Then rinse the meat with water and repeat several times until no more blood is drawn out of the meat by the salt. This will dry out your meat, but if you then marinate your meat before or during cooking, moisture will be restored to your meat to make it tender and delicious.
Hamburger can be more difficult to deal with. If frozen, let it thaw out and throw out the bloody meat juice. If raw, pat-press or squeeze the meat with paper towels to soak up the blood. This may not be the most perfect method for removing the blood, but we do the best we can do.
You can buy rabbinic Jewish kosher meet in a Jewish meat market, but some of the meat that we’ve seen there is even bloodier than the meat at the local grocery store. Plus, it’s often full of chemical additives. Yuck! So you have to be careful there too.
When buying sausages, make sure the casings are beef or lamb. Often kosher meat is put into pork casings. Go figure!
When buying dairy products, look for the rabbinic Jewish kosher seal (called a hechsher) on the label. The following website contains some the most common kosher symbols used globally today:
There’s a lot more that could be said on this subject, but hopefully this little bit of info will help you when buying food.
When you start eating biblically kosher, your diet begins improve a lot. Not only do you stop eating unclean meats, but, as you’re learning to read labels more carefully, you’ll become horrified to discover all the chemical additives you’ve been putting into your body. The food you thought was pure and wholesome is anything but that. As a result, many people start going back to eating food that’s less processed and in it’s more natural and less refined state, which is a good thing. Next thing you know, you start feeling better as your health improves.
You also start eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, which is a good thing.There are seldom if any kosher issues with regards to these foods, so eat away!
Learning to eat a biblically correct diet physically often coincides with eating a more biblically correct diet spiritually. What do I mean by this? Simply this. The mainstream church system feeds its members a steady spiritual diet of processed foods full of unbiblical (spiritually unkosher) doctrines and traditions of men that are contrary to the Written Word of Elohim in the Bible. YHVH’s Word has been processed through churches and denominations, layers of theological debate going back for hundreds of years, and the inclusion of many additives like man-made doctrines and even pagan traditions. As we get back to the bedrock of our Hebraic faith and become more biblically based in our beliefs and lifestyle, this leads us to become more selective in what we eat spiritually. In this process, we learn about the biblical dietary laws, which, contrary to what the mainstream church has told us, haven’t been done way with. So in the process of our spiritual growth, we clean up both our spiritual and physical diets and, as a result, end up feeling better all the way around.
It’s all about holiness — not a holier-than-thou-attitude, which some adopt, which is contrary to the heart and spirit of our Father in heaven.
Holiness is the chief attribute of YHVH Elohim, and the Scriptures reveal that he wants us to be holy as he is holy.
Holiness is the opposite of being polluted or profane, which is the chief attribute of sinful men.
YHVH calls us to be holy, so he can have a holy relationship with men through Yeshua the Messiah in accordance with his instructions in righteousness (the Torah-Word of Elohim). Eating a biblically kosher diet is a key aspect to living a holy or set-apart or unpolluted lifestyle — unpolluted by the world, the flesh and the devil.
Eating correctly is primarily a holiness issue, although there are physical benefits as well. That’s why YHVH relates the biblical dietary laws to being holy as he is holy (Lev 11:44–45).