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Why Do Jews Not Eat Pork or Crab?

Why Do Jews Not Eat Pork or Crab?

On why pig and crab are not kosher foods

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Question:

I was wondering, why can't Jews eat pork or crab?

Answer:

In the Bible, G‑d lists two requirements for an animal to be kosher (fit to eat) for a Jew: Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves. Pigs do have split hooves but do not chew their cud, so we cannot eat pig meat and its derivatives. In the seafood department, we may only eat fish that have both fins and scales.

Here is a translation of the original Divine command, from Deuteronomy, Chapter 14:8-10:

And the pig, because it has a split hoof, but does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You shall neither eat of their flesh nor touch their carcass.

These you may eat of all that are in the waters; all that have fins and scales, you may eat.

But whatever does not have fins and scales, you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.

While the commandment to follow a kosher diet falls under the category of laws which do not necessarily seem logical,1 observing them only because G‑d commands us to,2 there are moral lessons we derive from them.

Here are several given:

  1. The birds and many of the mammals we do not eat are predators, while the permitted animals are not. We are commanded not to eat those animals possessive of a cruel nature, so that we should not absorb these qualities into ourselves.3
  2. The commandment refines the person and instills self-discipline.4

I hope this helps.

For more extensive information please see Which Animals Are Kosher? and Buying Kosher Meat & Fowl from our Kosher section.

For spiritual insights see Why Do We Keep Kosher? and Judaism and the Art of Eating.

Best wishes,

Chani Benjaminson
Chabad.org

Footnotes
1.
See Rashi Leviticus 18:4
2.
G‑d's 613 commandments can be divided into three categories: mishpatim (judgments), chukim (decrees), or eidot (testimonials). The first category includes those observances which have an obvious reason, such as giving charity, not stealing or murdering, etc. The second category, chukim, includes laws which do not necessarily seem logical, and we observe them only because G‑d commands us to. The third category, eidot, includes those mitzvot that commemorate an event, such as Shabbat or Passover. Following a kosher diet falls under the category of chukim.
4.
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 44:1.
Chani Benjaminson is co-director of Chabad of the South Coast, coordinator of Chabad’s Ask the Rabbi and Feedback departments, and is a member of the editorial staff of Chabad.org.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Discussion (52)
March 23, 2016
To Pat
While that may be the case, the fact is they are transgressing a Biblical commandment :(
Mrs. Chana Benjaminson
chabadone.org
March 23, 2016
I know many Jews who eat lobster the don't have fin or gills
pat
33428
February 18, 2016
Another reason for not eating predator animals is they taste terrible.

I am still trying to figure out why fish with no scales is unclean. We fish in pure mountain streams and catch and eat trout, which is scaleless. They do however, have fins.
Lucy Mauterer
Atlanta
December 30, 2015
Noachide law
Noachides (gentiles who honor the 7 Noachide Law in the Torah) are prohibited from eating any part of a living animal.
e.g. in some cultures sea creatures that are still alive are sold as a delicacy in restaurants (not that I ever felt like eating them).
Crabs and lobsters often have their legs ripped out while still alive too, so Noachides need to avoid them. This means we must how any animal is processed before the product is sold.
Anonymous
December 27, 2015
Pork is full of bacteria because pigs basically eat anything including garbage and other dead animals
bob gillespie
Canada
December 26, 2015
re pigs and shrimp, etc
pigs are always associated with anything that is not right like, i.e you eat like a pig, you smell like a pig, more or less equating it with something that isnt nice in a human being. as for shrimp, lobster crab they are bottom feeders eating everthing that settles on the bottom of the ocean.
Sylvia Commerford
Chilliwack .
December 26, 2015
Shrimp, etc.
Anything that crawls on the bottom is considered dirty. I believe they eat excrement.
Helen
Lackawanna
December 25, 2015
Hi! I hope someone can help me with this question: I was wondering because I want to follow the Torah regarding Dietary laws .So my family usually prepare foods with shrimp, crabs, and pork with noodles ; my question is can I still keep kosher if i get those out of my noodle, or the noodle as a whole is unclean .
Anonymous
December 25, 2015
pork
you say: The birds and many of the mammals we do not eat are predators, while the permitted animals are not. We are commanded not to eat those animals possessive of a cruel nature, so that we should not absorb these qualities into ourselves.3

I am curious about this because pigs are not "predators" any more than cows, but you eat cows. I heard something about not eating anything with a "cloven hoof" and that would include a pig, but that rule comes from the Christian bible, and Jews do not use the Christian bible, do they? I am not in any religion and find these things of interest, and would like to have your answer. Many thanks.
kit hastings
New York
December 12, 2015
God created two kind of animals pure and impure What God consider impure can not be eating. It is an abomination
James Delinois