Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why aren't rabbits kosher? A serious answer.

In the interest of full disclosure, I *do* occasionally check (as I've admitted to before) to see how people land here, and I'm constantly surprised by how many google searches a) occur because people wonder why Jews don't eat rabbit, and b) end up landing HERE, of all places. So I googled the question myself, and lo, I was given myself as the third reference in the search results.

As a public service, I thought I'd provide a few links to interesting information about kashrut in general, and the proscription against eating rabbits in specific.

Note: It is very hard for me to type "rabbit," and not stop at "rabbi." If I make a reference to why rabbis aren't kosher, please forgive me. It's an inadvertent typo. Honest.

That said....

  • Here is a site that summarizes very briefly and succinctly the basics of kosher animals, kosher slaughter of animals, and keeping a kosher kitchen.

  • Here is another site that references the source in Leviticus for why rabbits aren't kosher.

  • This is a link to an online Torah with commentary (including the Hebrew, if you're feeling industrious), at the location in Leviticus (11:2-4, and specifically 6 about the hare) that discusses clean and traif animals.

The punchline simply is that an animal must both chew cud and have cloven hoofs to be kosher, and although rabbits chew their cud, they don't have hoofs, they have little feet -- and so they're out.

Here's hoping that that makes this blog a little more useful than just an "aw, dang -- back to google" pitstop on the information superhighway of kashrut trivia.


Clover said...

Thank you!
This was just the information I needed. Succinctly put, without an excess of detail.

Carrol said...

I have heard that there is or was a rabbit that chewed the cud and had cloven hoofs but I can't seem to find out where it lived.

Wade Baker said...

Sounds like a jackalope!

Barada said...

I don't think rabbits chew their cud the way that ruminants do. Rather, they ingest their own feces and then digest it again. (whoops! I almost wrote "rabbis.").
Wouldn't that make them doubly "unclean" like dogs and swine?

-Jonathan Perry said...

Barada, I think hit the nail on the Head.

I think that the Kosher issue has to do with what animals will eat.

From the little research I have done the animals that are listed as Kosher in the Torah. Do not engage in Coprophagia ( Eating Feces )

This is not Scientific - but I can see that you are what you eat.

Goa Indians use Pigs for Toilets (google the YouTube)

Pork "The Other Recycled Meat"

I am not sure if this applies to Kosher Birds ( Chicken, Turkey, Goose, Dove)

But I think it is the Case with Shell Fish and Fish - mainly the bottom feeding fish - that are the Sanitation systems of the Seas.

didi said...



Artifact Junkie said...

Yes, but can you tell us why rabbits are associated with cowardice in Jewish folklore? I see that statement repeated an awful lot on Google, but its never explained where that comes from.

alan said...

aI thought that rabbits do not chew the cud, wheras hairs do so I was suprised that rabbits were not kosher.
From Alan

Jennifer said...

Hello- thanks so much for all this great info! I found your site because I was researching the rejected books of the Christian Bible, and found the book of Barnabus- specifically 10:6 was perplexing: "Barnabas 10:6
Moreover thou shalt not eat the hare. Why so? Thou shalt not be
found a corrupter of boys, nor shalt thou become like such persons;
for the hare gaineth one passage in the body every year; for
according to the number of years it lives it has just so many

That is bizzare. Any more info on this? It's obvious now why this was not up for canon. I am 99% sure that rabbits do not gain an orifice for every year that they live. Is there any other reference to such a strange connection?

Jennifer said...

- your references were very helpful by the way, thanks!

Barada said...

I would look at problems of translation from the original (Greek) to modern English. I googled "hare bestiary and found that Pliny the Elder believed hares lived for as many years as they had "folds in their bowels". I can see where this could lead to some confused translation.
But, given the context, I think Barnabas was referring to the hare's proclivity to mate indiscriminately. He seems to have had a keen interest in that aspect of nature.

Josef Roesler said...

chickens will eat anything that any other animal eats. Compared to chickens, rabbits are 100 times cleaner in what they eat.