Is gelatin kosher why or why not
the question is already in the heading and it is simple and clear.
However, the reason for this question should be discussed.
Gummy bears contain a substance that comes from pigs. Every Jew, but also almost every Christian, knows that the Jewish religion forbids eating pork. So the spontaneous answer to the question asked (which I also investigated through questioning) would be that the traditionally made gummy bears are not kosher according to Jewish religious law, so they must not be eaten.
However, if one delves deeply into the "problem of gummy bears", the issue is quite complicated, both factually and legally.
The suspicious substance in the gummy bears at issue here is called gelatin. It is obtained from the following materials: connective tissue (skins and bones) from cattle, pigs, fish or poultry. Long physical and chemical processes ultimately create the material that is used in food and pharmaceutical products (capsules).
The manufacturing process is important for the rabbis to judge whether this material is kosher (pure, suitable or also suitable) or true (impure, not kosher) in the religious sense.
The question of whether gelatine is kosher is not answered in the same way by all rabbis. There are, as they have been for two thousand years, stricter and milder traditions and schools.
- The milder attitude, which is advocated by many rabbis, says that gelatine, which is obtained from the bones and skins of non-kosher animals by means of the complicated processes indicated above (which cannot be discussed in more detail here), is harmless, i.e. kosher . These rabbis rely on the following reasons:
Gelatin made from dry bones is not prohibited as the bones are not considered meat or food. The processing of the bones and the skins creates a new material that is not identical to the original and therefore does not fall under the ban.
A halachic rule states that when unkosher is mixed with kosher, the proportion of unkosher being very low, namely at most one in sixty (1/60), the unkosher disappears in the crowd and does not count.
Another halachic rule is that something that is not suitable for a dog to eat is not considered an edible food. This is the case with pure gelatine.
Some rabbis approve the gelatin because the original material has lost its taste.
According to Halacha, prohibitions based on the Torah and prohibitions prescribed by the wise are treated differently. Only materials that give the food a palpable taste are prohibited by the Torah law together with the food. If, however, a material without taste is mixed in for the purpose of strengthening, the prohibition is not justified in the Torah, but only by the wise men. A Halachic meta-rule says that if there are differences of opinion among the wise, i.e. if there are doubts as to whether one should follow the strict or the easing, the milder interpretation applies.
- Orthodox Judaism applies particularly strict standards to the kashrut. Mehadrin is the Hebrew word for the particularly strict rules. Food from strictly Orthodox Jews is marked with the "kosher for mehadrin" mark. The Mehadrin Orthodox do not accept the conventionally produced gelatin. They argue as follows:
There could be some meat left on the bones (which is very unlikely).
You can use other gelatine made from fish or chicken bones or from bones of cattle slaughtered according to Jewish rules (although this is much more expensive).
The stricter rabbis also do not accept the explanation that gelatine is a “new material” because the material (the non-kosher hides and bones) has been modified for use in food and is therefore subject to the original Trefe ban.
There are other weighty arguments in favor of the ban. Because of the complexity and breadth of these explanations, they cannot be discussed here.
Above I emphasized that most Jews would reject a food that is mixed with a component originally from pigs as true (not kosher).
Some rabbis have also made similar statements:
- "It is highly recommended not to eat gelatine that has been made from non-kosher animals, as this naturally raises many questions about kashrut."
- "Even if the food itself is kosher, but contains a component that comes from pork, it should not be put in your mouth."
This general aversion to anything connected with pigs can be found in Jews in general, including non-religious Jews who otherwise do not adhere to Jewish dietary laws.
Where does that come from?
In the Bible, the pig is banned as unclean along with other animals. That alone would not explain the great dislike of the Jews for the pig. In the course of history, however, the pig has become a symbol for the Jews for the unclean and for the disgusting. This is probably related to historical events, which, even if not always historically documented, had a great influence on the imagination and mood of even the Jewish child. It is mainly the stories of the martyrdom of the Jews who should be compelled to renounce their God by eating pork.
A particularly impressive example can be found in the Apocrypha of the Hebrew Bible. There it is reported (2. Maccabees chap. 7):
“1 Another time it happened that seven brothers were arrested with their mother. The king wanted to force them to eat pork, contrary to divine law, and therefore had them whipped with whips and straps.
2 One of them spoke up on behalf of the others and said: What do you want to ask us and what do you want to know about us? We'd sooner die than break the laws of our fathers. "
All seven brothers refuse to kneel before the idol and eat pork. One after the other, they are cruelly murdered. In the end, the mother kills herself by falling from a roof.
This story, which preceded the Maccabees uprising in 165 B.C. is said to have happened every year at the time of the Hanukkah festival, which commemorates the victory of the Maccabees, is told in schools.
In fact, this story has also entered Christian literature as an example of martyrdom.
With best regards
Bar Rav Nathan
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