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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.
3. Nachmanides Deuteronomy 4:3.
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.
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Discussion (36)
June 26, 2015
To Ronen
Thank G-d, in Judaism the motivator is not punishment - G-d isn't some angry, vengeful king in the sky who shoots lightning bolts at every transgressor and showers bounty upon every loyal subject. Rather, the reward for a mitzva is the mitzva; the punishment for a sin is the sin. In other words, mitzvot are a way for us to connect to Hashem - our source of life, blessing, and fulfillment in life. We're commanded to do them because Hashem wants us to have life, blessing, and fulfillment. If we ignore the mitzvot, the main punishment is simply the fact that we miss out on that connection. If anything, this makes Hashem sad - not angry. The more we follow the system, the more we become sensitive to this, because we start realizing how amazing it is to live connected. Why not give it a try?
Dovid
Queens, NY
June 25, 2015
Re:
If you are wondering whether a lightning bolt will come and strike you down, unfortunately I cannot answer offer you an accurate forecast as I am not privy to God's plan of action. I do think, however, that the question is somewhat misguided, and comes from a wrong perception of Torah and Mitzvot.
The guidelines laid down in the Torah are tools for us to be able to develop a relationship with God; The positive instructions teach us which actions to take in order to enhance this relationship, and the negative ones tell us what to refrain from which might obstruct this relationship.
Asking what might happen as a result of transgressing a commandment of the Torah is somewhat akin to a husband causing frustration to his wife and asking what the negative repercussions might be. If he was truly invested in his relationship with his spouse he would see to it to apologize to her for what he had done and to make a conscious effort not to do it again in the future.
This, in a nutshell, is Teshuva
Shaul Wolf
Chabad.org
June 14, 2015
I ate a pork chop, now what?
I went to a restaurant today and ordered a pork chop. Apart from the fact that is not good for lowering my triglycerides and bad cholesterol, are there anything else I have to worry about? Will Ha Shem punish me by making me have an accident or some kind of misfortune?
Ronen
Portland, Maine
April 27, 2015
doesn't the law only apply to Jews? I mean like it was specified ''JEWS'' So we (non-jews) should be free to eat pork, right?
anonymous
ixopo
March 26, 2015
These rules were made before biblical ways. I'm A farm girl and can offer info. Pigs are not as dirty as assumed. They compartmentalize. In any enclosure they have a place they eat, a place they sleep, a place they use for toilet, and a place they run around for fun. However pigs are hunters as well as rooters. They grow to huge sizes. They don't have as many sweat glands as they need to keep cool--hence the affinity for mud! Pork in the USA is wormed. This is why cooking shows have it looking rare. Other places be sure to cook it thoroughly before eating. Pigs are born with tusks and these become very sharp. Pigs slash sideways with their head and can rip and tear you apart. pork meat spoils easily--a danger pre-refrigeration. Crab and. Other shellfish can be problematic in disease outbreaks. I think colera? Not sure exactly. Every people have their own way. That's what keeps us interesting!
Nina
Sw kansas
March 13, 2015
''Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves''
Chickens don't have hooves - so why can Jews eat chicken then?
Anonymous
UK
January 25, 2015
I find it interesting that is there is so much discussion about the negative aspects of how a pig eats and lives. One this that has been fascinating to me is that no one is speaking about the eating habits and characteristics of goats. I have personally seen a goat eat a large portion of the inside of a car. I have seen a goat eat fecal matter from many different animals. I have seen a goat literally try to eat another dead goat... just a thought.
Anonymous
January 14, 2015
That's interesting what about all the other laws in the bible that are more important then pork, no one follows those laws lol
Anonymous
New Castle .P.A
January 9, 2015
The Sky Fairy of Doom wants us to eat animals that are easily domesticated, not very bright, and are easily herded and led to slaughter so that we should absorb these qualities into ourselves.
Anonymous
December 28, 2014
A reason why pig is not kosher
I just finished reading a book about the life and works of Maimonides. Maimonides thought that some laws were aimed at preventing Idolatry. He said that some gentiles (Egyptians) worshiped both the pig and the goat.

Thus Jews are forbidden to eat pork so they do not fall into the trap of idolatry. He also said that is why goats are recommended to be sacrificed as they were sacred animals to the pagans. Maimonides also said the reason the Torah states that "shall not wear shatnez--wool and linen together" is because that was the religious dress of certain pagans.
James Pinkerton
Very rural Mississippi
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