What is Kosher?

Kosher: A Definition

rabbiDavid6The Jewish religion incorporates within its tenets a regimen of dietary laws. These laws determine which foods are acceptable and conform to the Jewish Code.  The word kosher is an adaptation of the Hebrew word meaning “fit” or “proper.” It refers to foodstuffs that meet the dietary requirements of Jewish Law.

Market studies repeatedly indicate that even the non-Jewish consumer, when given the choice, will express a distinct preference for kosher certified products. They regard the kosher symbol as a sign of quality. The barometer of Kosher and non-Kosher depends on two variables: the source of the ingredients and the status of the production equipment. Kosher certification, which is the guarantee that the food meets kosher requirements, revolves around these two criteria. Just as a kosher consumer would not borrow his non-kosher neighbor’s pots to use in his kitchen, non-kosher equipment cannot be used in the production of kosher foods

It is significant that one of the first commandments given to human beings concerned food. Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life. Ever since, Jews have always placed great emphasis on gastronomic self-control.

The main principles of Kashrut are laid down in the Five Books of Moses and are classified as "statutes" - no reason is given for keeping them other than we are commanded to do so. Nevertheless Rabbis have always stressed their essential role in preserving Jewish life.

By keeping Kosher, children from an early age learn discipline, distinguishing between what is permitted and what is not. Beyond the exercise of self-restraint, the Rabbis in the Talmud came up with another, more mystical idea. If you eat non-kosher food, they said, it reduces your spiritual capacity - "clogs up the pores of your soul."

Just as a healthy diet is good for the body, so we keep kosher because it's good for the soul. In the Jewish home, the table is an altar, the kitchen is a domestic sanctuary.