DIETARY LAWS (
(Redirected from FORBIDDEN FOOD.)
- Vegetable Food.
- Animal Food.
- Milk and Eggs.
- Prohibition of Blood.
- Seething Kid in Mother's Milk.
- —From the Traditional Point of View:
- Alleged Reasons for Laws.
- —Considered Historically and from the Critico-Historical and Reform Point of View:
- Priestly Sanctity of the Nation.
- Blood, Fat, etc.
- Haggadic and Halakic Views.
- Attitude of Reform Judaism.
Biblical and rabbinical regulations concerning forbidden food.Vegetable Food.
A. The ancient Israelites lived chiefly on vegetable food and fruit, upon which the Bible places no restrictions (Gen. i. 29). With the development of the sacrificial system certain restrictions were placed on the use of the portions belonging to the priest, the Levite, and the poor (see Priestly Code; Charity). Besides these there were also some laws concerning vegetable and tree growths.
- (1) "'Orlah": The fruit of a tree was forbidden during the first three years after its planting (Lev. xix. 23-25). In the fourth year the fruit was brought to Jerusalem and eaten there amid songs of thanksgiving ("neτa' reba'i"). Those who lived at a distance from Jerusalem might redeem the fruit and bring the money to Jerusalem, and spend it in a similar manner. The law of 'orlah applied to all times and places ('Orlah iii. 9; Ḳid. 38b et seq.; Maimonides, "Yad," Ma'akalot Asurot, x. 9-18; Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yorch De'ah, 294). See 'Orlah.
- (2) "Ḥadash": The eating of new corn was forbidden until the second day of Passover, when the "'omer" was offered in the Temple (Lev. xxiii. 9-14). This prohibition also was extended to all times and places (Ḳid. l.c.; Men. 70a; Maimonides, l.c. 2-5; Yoreh De'ah, 293).The reason for these laws seems to be contained in the sentence "The first of the first-fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God" (Ex. xxiii. 19).
- (3) The use for any purpose whatever of the produce of two species of corn or of other vegetables sown in a vineyard was forbidden (Deut. xxii. 9). The sowing of mixed seed in gardens or in fields was also prohibited (Lev. xix. 19); but, if so sown, the produce was only forbidden in the case of a vineyard ("kile ha-kerem"). This prohibition applied originally only to Palestine, but was later extended by the Rabbis to all lands and times (Ḳid. 39a; Maimonides, l.c. 6-8; Yoreh De'ah, 295-297).
B. Among the early Hebrews animal food was partaken of by the common people only on festive occasions, usually in connection with sacrifices. The permission given to Noah and to his children to eat animal food (Gen. ix. 2, 3) was conditioned upon the abstinence from blood (see Blood). Some of the Tannaim were of the opinion that during their journey through the wilderness the Israelites were permitted to eat the meat only of such animals as had previously been sacrificed, some portions of which had been burned on the altar, and some given to the priests; others thought differently (Ḥul. 17a; compare Ex. xvi. 3).
I. The Bible, in its legislative portions, makes explicit provisions for the distinction between clean and unclean animals mentioned earlier in connectionwith the Flood (Gen. vii. 2, 8). See Clean and Unclean Animals.
II. Forbidden as being unclean is also that which comes out of the unclean (Bek. 5b). This principle applies not only to the young, but to all animal products.
(1) It is therefore forbidden to use the milk of unclean animals or of animals which suffer from some visible malady which causes them to be legally unfit ("ṭerefah") for food. When, after the ritual slaughtering, an animal, apparently sound during its life, is found to have been diseased, its milk, or cheese made of its milk, is forbidden as food.
An adult may not suckle from the breasts of a woman, although, if placed in a vessel, woman's milk. is not forbidden. A child may suckle until the end of its fourth year if healthy, or until the end of its fifth year if sickly. If, however, it was interrupted after the second year for three consecutive days with the intention of weaning it, it is not permitted to suckle again (Ket. 60a; Bek. 6a; Ḥul. 112b; Maimonides, l.c. 3; Yoreh De'ah, 81).Milk and Eggs.
(2) Eggs of unclean birds, or of birds suffering from a visible sickness, which makes them ṭerefah, are forbidden. The following signs were laid down by the Rabbis, by which eggs of clean birds could be distinguished from those of unclean. If both ends of the egg are sharp or round, or if the yolk is outside and the white inside, it is of an unclean bird. If one end is sharp and the other round, and the white is outside and the yolk inside, reliance may be placed on the testimony of the seller, who must say of what species of birds it comes. As a rule, however, since most eggs sold are those of chickens, ducks, or geese, no questions need be asked (Ḥul. 64a; Maimonides, l.c. 7-11; Yoreh De'ah, 86).
A drop of blood found on the yolk of an egg is considered an indication that the process of hatching has already begun, and the egg is therefore forbidden. It is not necessary, however, to examine eggs before using them to see whether they contain any blood (Yoreh De'ah, 66, 2-8).
(3) The roe of unclean fishes is also forbidden. Pickled fish may be eaten, though preserved together with unclean fish ('Ab. Zarah. 40a; Maimonides, l.c. 20-24; Yoreh. De'ah, 83, 5-10).
(4) The honey of bees is permitted, since it is merely the secretion of the flower gathered by the bee and then discharged, and contains no portion of the insect. There is, however, a difference of opinion regarding honey produced by other insects (Bek. 7b; Maimonides, l.c. 3; Yoreh De'ah, 81, 8, 9).
III. The ancient Israelites looked with horror upon the custom prevalent among the surrounding nations of cutting off a limb or a piece of flesh from a living animal and eating it. Its prohibition is one of the seven Noachian laws (Sanh. 56a). If the limb was still partly attached to the body, but could never grow again, and the animal was legally slaughtered, this limb had to be thrown away (Ḥul. 101b; Maimonides, l.c. 5; Yoreh De'ah, 62; see also Cruelty to Animals).
IV. An animal that has died a natural death, or has been killed in any way other than that prescribed by the law of SheḤIṬah, is called "nebelah," and makes impure all persons or things that it touches (Deut. xiv. 21). One torn by beasts (Ex. xxii. 30 [A. V. 31]) or subject to some mortal disease is called ṭerefah. Both of these are forbidden as food; "for thou art a holy people to the Lord thy God." The laws of ṭerefah are given in Ḥul. iii.; Maimonides, l.c. 5-11; Yoreh De'ah, 29-60. See Carcass and Ṭerefah.Prohibition of Blood.
V. Blood, which is supposed to contain the vital element (Gen. ix. 4), is repeatedly prohibited in the Bible (Lev. xvii. 11; Deut. xii. 16). It must not be eaten by Jews at any time or place (Lev. iii. 17). Not only blood itself, but flesh containing blood is also forbidden (Gen. ix. 4; see Blood). For the laws of blood see Ḥul. 111a, 117a; Ker. 2a, 20b; "Yad," Ma'akalot Asurot, vi.; Yoreh De'ah, 66-78.
This prohibition applies only to the blood of mammals or of birds, not to the blood of fishes or of locusts. Only the blood which is contained in the veins, or congealed on the surface of the meat, or which has begun to flow from the meat, is forbidden; as long as it is a part of the meat it may be eaten. See MeliḤah.
VI. The fat ("ḥeleb") of ox, sheep, or goat is forbidden (Lev. vii. 23-25). The punishment decreed for transgression of this law is "karet." The fat of birds or of permitted wild animals is not forbidden. The fat of the young found within the womb of the mother after the latter has been legally killed, and its sinew "that shrank," are permitted. See Fat.
VII. The custom of refraining from eating the sinews of the hind legs of an animal arose, according to the Biblical narrative (Gen. xxxii. 32), from the incident of Jacob's wrestling with the angel, through which the patriarch became lame. It is not put in the form of a prohibition in the legal portions of the Bible, although the Rabbis considered it of Mosaic origin (Ḥul. 100b). Birds are excluded from this law.Seething Kid in Mother's Milk.
C. The threefold repetition of the commandment prohibiting the seething of a kid in its mother's milk (Ex. xxiii. 19, xxxiv. 26; Deut. xiv. 21) is explained by the Rabbis as referring to three distinct prohibitions: cooking meat and milk together; eating such mixture; and deriving any benefit from such a mixture (Ḥul. 115b). See Milk.
D. In almost all cases of forbidden food, the transgressor was liable to punishment only when the portion which he ate was at least as large as an olive. The prohibition, however, extends at times farther than that (Yoma 73b, 80a), in some cases even to the taste and the odor. Hence, if a forbidden object falls into a boiling pot of permitted food, all the food contained in the pot is forbidden, unless no taste of the forbidden object can be detected in the food of the pot.
E. It is forbidden to derive any benefit from objects used for idolatrous purposes. Meat consecrated to an idol, wine of libation, spices, or anything else used in the idol's service is prohibited ('Ab. Zarah 29b); in fact, any animal slaughtered or wine touched by an idolater was prohibited to the Israelite, because it was supposed to be consecrated to his idol; and theseprohibitions applied not only to eating or to drinking, but to any benefit derived from it. Even after the practise of idolatry lapsed, these prohibitions remained in force as rabbinic institutions; wherefore the wine of a non-Jew is forbidden.
On account of the apprehension of intermarriage, the Rabbis also prohibited eating the bread of a non-Jew, or a dish cooked by a non-Jew ('Ab. Zarah 35b, 38a). It is permitted, however, to buy bread of a non-Jewish baker. If part of the cooking was done by an Israelite, the dish may be eaten. Non-Jewish servants may cook for the families which they serve, for since they are in the house of the Jew, it is assumed that one of the household gives occasional assistance. Some authorities, however, object to permitting non-Jewish servants to cook (Yoreh De'ah, 113, 4, Isserles' gloss; compare "Sifte Kohen" and "Ṭure Zahab," ad loc.).
The non-Jew's testimony regarding these matters can not be relied upon, since he does not know the import of these laws to the Jew; wherefore not only meat, but also milk and cheese bought of a non-Jew are forbidden, because it is assumed that, by some carelessness or by a desire to improve, the milk may have been mixed with some forbidden ingredient. A Jew is therefore required to be present at the milking, and at the preparation of the cheese. Different customs prevail regarding butter bought of a non-Jew; and in regard to milk and cheese the later authorities are more lenient ('Ab. Zarah ii.; Maimonides, l.c. iii. 13, xi.-xiii., xvii. 9-26; Yoreh De'ah, 112-115, 123-138).
F. "Sakkanah," or danger to life, is given by the Rabbis as a reason for a number of prohibitions included in the dietary laws. An animal that ate poison is forbidden on account of sakkanah (Ḥul. 58b). Meat and fish should not be cooked or eaten together; for such a mixture is supposed to cause leprosy. It is therefore the custom to wash the mouth between eating a dish containing fish and one containing meat (Pes. 66b; Yoreh De'ah, 117, 2, 3). Water that was left uncovered overnight was not permitted as drink in olden times, because of the apprehension that a serpent might have left its venom in it. Where serpents are not found this prohibition does not exist (Jer. viii. 4; Yoreh De'ah, l.c. 1).
- Hamburger, R. B. T. I., s.v. Speisegesetze;
- C. G. Monteflore, Mrs. M. Joseph and Hyamson, in Jew. Quart. Rev. viii., ix.;
- S. R. Hirsch, Ḥoreb, Altona, 1837; Berlin, 1853;
- Friedländer, The Jewish Religion, pp. 455-466, London, 1900.
From the point of view of traditional or conservative Judaism, the dietary laws are divinely ordained, and the rejection of the yoke of these laws is tantamount to a rejection of the belief in Israel's redemption from Egypt (Sifra, Shemini, xii., based upon Lev. xi. 44-45)., To eat pork was, therefore, considered as equivalent to apostasy in the Maccabean time and later (II Macc. vii. 1 et seq.; IV Macc. v.; Philo, "In Flaccum," § 11). One should abstain from it not only from personal aversion, but because "our Father in heaven has decreed that we should abstain from it" (Sifra, Ḳedoshim, xi.). "God showed to Moses the different species of animals, and said: 'These may ye eat, and these not'" (Sifra, Shemini, ii.; Ḥul. 42a)." The many rules regulating the Jew's diet are intended to test his piety and love for God" (Tan., Shemini, ed. Buber, 12, 13). "There is no other reason for all the dietary laws than that God gave them" (Samson Raphael Hirsch, "Horeb," 1837, p. 433). Thus says Lasch ("Die Goettlichen Gesetze," 1857, p. 173) in regard to the dietary laws: "He who truly fears God will observe His laws without inquiring into the reasons for them." Any question regarding the historical development of these laws is obviously excluded from the standpoint of traditional Judaism. "The dietary laws," says M. Friedländer ("The Jewish Religion," p. 237, London, 1891), "are exactly the same now as they were in the days of Moses."
Nevertheless a rational interpretation of the Biblical and Mosaic laws has at all times endeavored to find the dietary laws prophylactic of diseases of both body and soul. Indeed, many statisticians have declared that the observance of the dietary laws has greatly contributed to the longevity and physical as well as moral power of the Jewish race (see H. Behrend, "Communicability of Diseases from Animals to Man," London, 1895).
On the other hand, the cabalists hold that whosoever eats of the forbidden food becomes imbued with the spirit of impurity and is cast out of the realm of divine holiness (see Zohar iii. 41b). As to the aversion of the Jew to the eating to pork see Swine.Alleged Reasons for Laws. —Considered Historically and from the Critico-Historical and Reform Point of View:
According to Gen. i. 29, the human race was originally allowed to eat vegetable food only; after the Flood, however, animal food was permitted, but on condition that blood, which is the soul (Gen. ix. 3, 4), should not be partaken of. The people of Israel were forbidden to eat the flesh of beasts found torn or that had died a natural death, as well as all kinds of animals declared unclean; the stated reason being that Israel should be "a holy people unto the Lord," "distinguished from other nations by the avoidance of unclean and abominable things that defile them" (Ex. xxii. 30 [A. V.], 31; Deut. xiv. 3-21; Lev. xi. 43, xx. 24). Various other reasons have been alleged by ancient and by modern writers: (1) hygienic ("Moreh Nebukim," ii. 48; Samuel b. Meïr on Lev. xi. 3; Michaelis, "Mosaisches Recht," iv. 202)—e.g., the sturgeon and various scaleless fishes and the pig are instanced as producing diseases; (2) psychological, presupposing that the animals thus prohibited appeared loathsome; or that they, and more especially the carnivorous beasts and birds, beget a spirit of cruelty in persons that eat them (IV Macc. 5; Naḥmanides on Lev. xi.); (3) dualistic, holding that, like the Persians, the Israelites ascribed all the unclean animals to an evil power (Origen, "Contra Celsum," iv. 93; Bohlen, "Genesis," p. 88: De Wette, "Hebräische Archäologie," p. 188; Lengerke, "Canaan," i. 379); (4) national, maintainingsimply that the Israelites should be secluded from all other nations (Spencer, "De Legibus Hebræorum," 1732, p. 121; Michaelis, l.c.). None of these alleged reasons, however, can be considered as Scriptural. Really, the animals forbidden in the Mosaic law are almost the same as are prohibited to the priests or saints in the ancient Hindu, Babylonian, and Egyptian laws.
In the "Laws of Manu," v. 7, 11-20 ("S. B. E." xxv. 171 et seq.) carnivorous birds—those that feed striking with their beaks, or that scratch with their toes, or live on fish or meat—fishes that eat any kind of flesh, five-toed animals, and strange beasts or birds are forbidden; domestic animals that have teeth in one jaw only, except the camel, are eatable; also the porcupine, hedgehog, rhinoceros, tortoise, and hare are allowed; the village cock is forbidden, as is the milk of one-hoofed animals. In the "Laws of Apastamba," i. 5, 29-39 (ib. ii. 64), one-hoofed animals, camels, village pigs, and cattle are forbidden; also car nivorous birds that scratch with their feet, or feed thrusting forward their beaks, and the cock. Five-toed animals (with the exception of the boar, porcupine, rhinoceros, and hare), and misshapen and snake-headed fish or such as live on flesh only, are prohibited. Similarly, the "Laws of Vasishta," xiv. 38-48 (ib. xiv. 74), and those of Bandhayuna, i. 5, 12 (ib. xiv. 184).
The Ḥaranians may eat all animals that chew the cud, with the exception of the camel, and, with the exception of doves, all birds that are not birds of prey (Chwolson, "Die Szabier," 1856, ii. 7, 102). The Egyptian priests abstained from eating fish, one-hoofed quadrupeds or such as had more than two divisions in their hoofs and no horns, and all carnivorous birds (Porphyrius, "De Abstinentia." iv. 7). The law of Zoroaster contained probably the same prohibitions as the Hindu law, but the books are lost; and the classification of animals in "Bundahish," ch. xiv. ("S. B. E." v. 47), has no bearing on forbidden food.
Of the theories suggested for these various prohibitions of animals (see Porphyrius, l.c. i. 14; Spencer, l.c. pp. 82-92; and Sommer, "Biblische Abhandlungen," 1846, pp. 271-322) only that proposed by W. Robertson Smith ("Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia," 1885, p. 306; idem, "Rel. of Sem." p. 270) seems to offer a plausible explanation. In view of the fact that almost every primitive tribe holds certain animals to be tabooed, the contention is that the forbidden or tabooed animal was originally regarded and worshiped as the totem of the clan; but the facts adduced do not sufficiently support the theory, especially in regard to the Semites, to allow it to be more than an ingenious conjecture, though Stade, "Gesch. des Volkes Israel," i. 485; Benzinger, "Arch." 1894, p. 484; Jacobs, "Studies in Biblical Archæology," p. 89; and Baentsch, "Exodus and Leviticus," 1900, p. 355, have adopted it (against Nöldeke, in "Z. D. M. G.," 1886, pp. 157 et seq.).Priestly Sanctity of the Nation.
It is certain that the conception of clean and unclean animals did not originate with the Hebrew law-giver, but, in accordance with Biblical tradition, goes back to prehistoric times, the distinction being assumed as existing in the days of Noah. These unclean (or tabooed?) animals were to be avoided by all those persons who laid special claim to holiness; wherefore the priests and saints of all ancient nations were commanded to shun them. Samson's mother, when she was to give birth to a Nazarite, was warned against eating anything unclean (Judges xiii. 4, 7, 14). The idea that the people of Israel were "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex. xix. 6) could not be more impressively set forth than by laws which extended the universal priestly prohibition of unclean food to the entire people. This priest-idea is the only possible meaning of Lev. xx. 25, 26 (R. V.): "I have separated you from the peoples, that ye should be mine."
The precept given by the angel to Samson's mother shows, however, that the people in general did not heed the dietary laws. The same may be inferred from Ezekiel's words concerning himself as priest: "Ah, Lord God! behold my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn of beasts; neither came there the flesh of a sacrificially loathsome thing
On the other hand, the prohibition of blood and fat (Lev. iii. 17, vii. 24-27, xvii. 10-14; compare Gen. ix. 4) rests on different grounds. Maimonides ("Moreh," part iii., ch. xlvi., xlviii.) gives a rationalistic explanation. "Blood and fat belong to God, and must be brought upon the altar" (Targ. Yer. to Lev. iii. 17); they are divine property; neither Israelite nor non-Israelite is allowed to eat thereof; and the penalty for violation of this law is excision ("karet"). Therefore, the blood of every animal, even when it is unfit for the altar, must be "poured out . . . as water" (Deut. xii. 24), and the fat of the nebelah and ṭerefah is forbidden (Lev. vii. 24). In Deuteronomy (xii. 23 and elsewhere), however, fat is not mentioned (see Geiger, "Urschrift," p. 467, and Karaites). To the same category seems to belong also the ancient prohibition of the sciatic nerve, or rather the gluteal muscle ("sinew of the hip,"
All these dietary laws, however, intended to give to the Jew the character of priestly sanctity, were declared to be "ḥukkim" (divine statutes), to which "the evil spirit ["yezer ha-ra'"] and the heathen nations object" (Sifra, Aḥare, 13). The allegorical interpretations followed by the Alexandrians (Aristeas' Letter, 140-170) are proof of a prevailing tendency to treat the dietary laws lightly; but the Maccabean reaction against Hellenism lent new importance to them (II Macc. vi. 18; IV Macc. l.c.; Sifra, Ḳedoshim, 11). At the same time, the view is expressed by the Rabbis that the forbidden meat shall again be allowed to Israel, as indeed it was believed to have been eaten by the Israelites before entering the Holy Land (see Midr. Teh. to Ps. cxlvi. 7; Lev. R. xiii.; Ḥul. 17a). The very fact that the whole list of forbidden animals is allegorized in the Midrash (Lev. R. xiii.) places the dietary laws in a peculiar light, and forcibly recalls their treatment in the patristic literature. See Clean and Unclean Animals.
The Halakah recognized the maxim to abstain from whatever savored of any possible approach to the forbidden diet; the prohibitions became ever more numerous, so as to make the wall of separation between Jew and non-Jew well-nigh insurmountable. It is to be noted that those Jews who refused to accept these rabbinical prohibitions fled to the Samaritans (Josephus, "Ant." xi. 8, § 7). The rabbinical principle was consistent in so far as it tended to keep the Jew isolated from his idolatrous surroundings by prohibiting even the meal cooked by the heathen (
In the Middle Ages the dietary laws became the chief mark of distinction between the Jew and the Christian, whose antinomic maxim was: "There is nothing from without the man that going into him can defile him: but the things which proceed out of the man are those that defile the man" (Mark vii. 15, R. V.; compare "Matt. xv. 10-20; Acts x. 15; I Cor. viii. 8), in all probability borrowed from the Gnostic teaching: "We are as little defiled by meats as is the sea by tainted influxes" (Porphyrius, l.c. i. 42; Bernays, "Theophrast's Schrift über Frömmigkeit," pp. 15 et seq.).Attitude of Reform Judaism.
Reform Judaism claims that those laws affect differently the social position of the modern Jews, living in a world which is no longer idolatrous or hostile as in former days. They are no longer regarded as a symbolical expression of his being the consecrated priest or Nazarite among the nations, since the priests and saints of no other nation observe these laws as in Mosaic times. On the contrary, they tend to keep him from associating with his fellow citizens with the view of presenting to them his religious truth as "the light" and "the covenant" of the nations. Whether justified in doing so or not, the great majority of West European Jews have broken away from the dietary laws; and the question for the Reform rabbis of the nineteenth century was whether the religious consciousness of the modern Jew should be allowed to suffer from a continual transgression of these laws, or whether the laws themselves should be submitted to a careful scrutiny as to their meaning and purpose and be revised—that is, either modified or abrogated by the rabbinical authorities of the present time. A proposition to this effect was made at the Rabbinical Conference of Breslau (see Conferences, Rabbinical), and a committee consisting of Drs. Einhorn, Holdheim, A. Adler, S. Hirsch, and Herzfeld was appointed to report at the next conference, which, however, was never held. Dr. Einhorn's report, on behalf of the committee, was nevertheless published in "Sinai" (1859 and 1860). Its leading idea is that the dietary laws, with the exception of the prohibition of blood and of beasts that have died (or die) a natural death, are inseparably connected with the Levitical laws of purity and the priestly sacrificial laws, and are therefore of a mere temporary ceremonial character and not essentially religious or moral laws.
G. Wiener in an exhaustive work of 524 pages, M. Kalisch, and K. Kohler have pleaded for a revision of the dietary laws. S. R. Hirsch and M. Friedländer have written in favor of the full retention of the laws (see bibliography below). Sam Hirsch gives a symbolic and allegorical interpretation of these laws in his Catechism, 2d ed., pp. 55-64, Philadelphia, 1877. As a matter of course, this question of revising or abrogating Biblical and rabbinical laws has no bearing upon the majority of Jews, who believe in the immutability of the Law, both the written and the oral. See Abrogation of Laws; Articles of Faith; Reform Judaism.
- Wiener, Die Jüdischen Speisegesetze, Breslau, 1895;
- K. Kohler, in The Jewish Times, German section, Aug.-Sept., 1872;
- idem, Die Speisegesetze, in Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1895, pp. 245-269;
- S. R. Hirsch, Horeb;
- Versuche über Israel's Pflichten, 1837, pp. 374-378, 410-433;
- M. Friedländer, The Jewish Religion, pp. 455-466, London, 1891;
- M. Kalisch, Historical and Critical Commentary: Leviticus, ii. 1-113, London, 1872;
- Geiger, Gesammelte Schriften, i. 253 et seq., Berlin, 1875;
- Zapletal, Der Totemismus und die Religion Israels, pp. 81-91, Freiburg, 1901.