Sunday, January 5, 2014

Differences Between Kosher and Halal Meats

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                      

Moses, through G-d,  laid down laws for Jews as to how to prepare the killing of an animal that is allowed to be eaten. Cattle have been domesticated since 6,500 BCE, and Moses  lived from 1391BCE to 1271 BCE, so there must have been a lot of inhumane practices going on before his laws.

 These are found in the Oral Law and by rabbinic regulation.  The basic law is in the Pentateuch.  Dealings with this law  are found in the talmudic tractate HULLIN as well as the Shulhan Arukh code of Yoreh Deah of the 2nd part of it.  Kosher, or the Laws of Kashrut, means: fit, proper, in accordance with the religious law.

 Jews do not eat any animals on the planet, only certain ones.  The slaughter of an animal allowed has certain steps in the laws of keeping kosher, or Kashrut.  Every precaution is taken to avoid eating any blood or eating any meat with milk products.  This means Jews do not drink milk from an animal not allowed to eat as well, such as camel milk or camel meat.  The milk-meat law comes from not wanting to cause pain to the mother who gave us milk who would feel stress and pain if she knew we were eating her milk mixed with her flesh.  This is to teach us to have feelings for animals and thus for people.

  The animal must be slaughtered quickly and humanely.  This means that a special man trained in doing this called the shokhet, does the deed. He must also be very pious and be certified by the rabbis.  This goes all the way back to Deut. 12:21. He says a prayer before the slaughter.    He must use a very sharp knife.  The throat of the animal is cut quickly so as not to cause pain. This severs the trachea, oesophagus, two vagus nerves and both carotid arteries and the jugular veins.  The animal then loses consciousness in two seconds.   The blood must drain cleanly from the animal after death.  This takes away toxins that are released the moment of death that got into the bloodstream at that time.

The killing of the animal is hard on meat packing houses as the killing cannot be done in an assembly line fashion.  The rules for this are called shehitah and are in the Oral Torah.  The rules are for meat and fowls but not fish.  The cows do not see an animal being slaughtered which could cause fright.    Therefore, there is hopefully no cortisol or norepeneherine (stress chemicals) found in the meat.  The animals should not experience the scent of death.  The spinal cord is sectioned which cuts off pain to the brain.  This is done to make sure there was no pain.

We are to eat only animals that have cloven hoofs and that chew their cud.  All others are forbidden.  Cows, sheep and goats are permitted. So is a deer, but one cannot hunt this animal as that would not be a kosher kill.   Camels are not.  Neither are pigs, rabbits, badgers and all the other mammals.  Fish allowed must have fins and scales, so lobsters, oysters, shrimp, clams and crabs are not allowed.  Swordfish and sturgeon are also on the list of no no's.  Birds are mostly allowed but not birds of prey such as eagles, and ostriches, pelicans, storks, herons are not allowed.  We eat chicken, turkey, geese, ducks and doves.  We do not eat amphibians and insects so we say no to mice, rats,, snails, snakes, ants and other insects.  These are said to defile us and are prohibited right in the Torah.  Honey from bees is good.  After all, the bees produce honey from the nectar of flowers.

We do not eat an animal that died from a natural death. This rule would certainly rule out any cow that died from the Mad Cow disease that farmers or meat packers might want to pass on to keep from losing money.

In preparing the meat, it is soaked in salt water to get rid of any blood that might be there.  Then it is cooked to be well done.  This gets rid of any stress chemicals as well.  Also, only certain parts of the animal is used for food and that means parts where the main artery is not in, so this means the tough parts are allowed to be eaten.  Often, this means cooking in  a liquid such as water to help soften the meat.  The steaks so popular are not allowed unless the vein has been taken out originally, something that requires more skill.

Halal means lawful or permissible according to Islamic law.  It refers to meat that Muslims are allowed to eat under Islamic Shari'ah Law.  Pork is also not allowed, so pigs are not used, as in Jewish law.  This is the only animal mentioned in this law, but other foods can be haraam (not allowed).  The criteria is the source and cause of the animal's death and how it was processed.  Halal processes means the slaughterer is a Muslim and before death invokes the name of Allah by saying "Bismillah"-in the name of Allah, and then three times saying "Allahu akhar"-G0d is the greatest.  They also use a sharp knife and cut the throat, windpipe and blood vessels in the neck while the animal is conscious causing the death without cutting the spinal cord.  The blood is also drained from the veins.  Muslims also exclude blood for consumption.

The method of slaughting animals  is called Dhabihah.  This also excludes fish and other sea-life, per Islamic law.   "
  • The animal must have been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal by-products.  Muslims may eat kosher killed meat as the laws are so similar if Halal meat is not available.  
  • There are eight Halal stores right in Portland, Oregon's area.  Kosher meats can be found in Albertson's store on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway.  Two more stores are now selling kosher meat;  Safeway on Barber Blvd and Trader Joes.    
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
To Be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin page 97-120
Update: 4:11pm  Oregon Kosher
Update: 10/29/15 edit.


  1. So here is my consternation. I don't recognize the god of Islam, ancient Egypt's numerous gods Rome, Greek, Persia etc,etc...eating according to what YHVH deemed good for our bodies is a no brainer...He placed Adam into a Garden fruits and veggies...He presented dietary laws according to how the body is designed...So, I refer to scriptures....The TORAH is clear!

    1. YHWH is the G-d of the Muslims too. Rambam says that clearly

    2. I though The Law allows the consumption of insects that hop off the ground, which would include only grasshoppers and crickets, that I am aware of. YHWH is not the God of islamist muslims. First, the definition of Muslim means, believer in a single god, in the Arab language, so anyone who believes in a single god vs multiple gods, is technically Muslim. An islamist is a person that believes in the islamic religion/law/hadith, and other islamic writings, and teaching. YHWH says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” He would not make this the First Commandment if it was not important, and there were no false gods.

    3. ...and the beetle after his kind...

    4. Alisharumi, There is only one G-d, so how can the Muslims have one G-d and the Jews also one G-d. One means one-uno, ekhad. It seems that if Mohammad was listening to the angel Gabriel in order to write his Koran, he received different information than Moses did some 1,300 years earlier. You are right about the importance of believing in one G-d. and of course we Jews have been scrupulous about that and not believing in any other G-d. We cannot argue about the Muslim one G-d being they say they are monotheistic, it's just that we know they certainly are not following the dictum we received from Moses. That's why we could never accept Islam; it's completely different. It's a moot argument about there being one G-d. I can't believe that G-d changed his ideals. It's more than Mohammad did get the same message and either had trouble translating it or...and your guess is probably also my guess. There are some things that are the same in both religions, but at the same time, there are highly political things as well that changes the course of Islam from Judaism. Remember, Jews lived in Saudi Arabia and Mohammad heard our teachers reading from the Torah. He had an exposure to Judaism somewhat, enough to make him aware of what they were talking about, and so he wished that his people were also people with a book since Jews had one and so did Christians. He felt left out, and so...what happened to be born was born; Islam. He could not read or write, making it very hard to edit anything he dictated.

    5. About insects, "Torah states that four types of desert locust can be eaten, but all other insects should be avoided.
      It's unclear why locusts are singled out - some rabbis believe it was a merciful gesture to help people survive locust plagues."

  2. Yes, I agree. So your dismay is???? Halal is according to the Sharia Law only. It is similar to Mosaic law in that it followed some of the precepts but not all of them, just like Islam has borrowed much from the Torah and from the New Testament and then they have added Mohammad's thoughts to it. I can't eat Halal meat but Muslims can eat Kosher. Kosher is a lot stricter. Both say a prayer to G-d but of course different prayers. Notice that Muslims eat everything except pork from what I could gather. They eat camels. They drink camel milk. It wasn't a no brainer if I understand you right. For almost 6,000 years people were not following any sort of dietary laws. Moses came along with very direct laws laid out for us to understand exactly leaving not many questions about it. The Muslims accept Moses as a prophet, but don't follow his laws as we do since they only follow Mohammad. So yes, the Torah is very clear. Now, the big push, at least in Portland, is to go Vegan for many people who may or may not follow any religion. Maybe this is a good sign because they are not only doing this as a matter of their better health but also in regard for the cruelty to animals. That's quite a switch from 100 years ago. If I didn't cover the right things or understand your alarm to what I wrote, please let me know. Up till now, orthodox Muslims have been eating kosher meats until Halal came into Portland. At least they were allowed to do this.

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  4. I don't always post, Nadene, but wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your blog. - Revis

  5. Thanks, Revis. I appreciate knowing this.

  6. Joseph, ONE G-d, of course, but different understandings, interpretations, translations. It is interesting that Mohammad is said to have the the Arab line of J1 Y haplotype or male line, the Cohen gene from Abraham through Ishmael while our priestly line was through Isaac. The fact is that there are many Arabs who carry the J1 haplotype with supplementary information that it is of the Arab line. Mohammad did not leave a male descendant. That's why there was such a disagreement over who the leader was to be after Mohammad, and led to the Sunni and the Shi'a lines.