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Is Pig More Unkosher Than Other Animals?

Is Pig More Unkosher Than Other Animals?



Why do Jews give the poor old pig such a hard time? Is pig more unkosher than other animals?


The pig has copped it pretty badly in the collective Jewish psyche over the years. It has always been the personification of unkosherness. It is not uncommon to find Jews who say "I may not keep kosher, but at least I don't eat pig!" Although a pig is no more unkosher than a cheeseburger or a lobster, the pig has something to it that is anathema to what Judaism stands for: it is a fraud.

There are two signs that identify a kosher species of animal. 1) It has split hooves, and 2) it chews its cud (i.e. it regurgitates its food and chews it over a second time.) The first sign is easy to spot - just look at the hooves. But the second is not so apparent. You have to study the animal's digestive system to know if it chews its cud. A cow is an example of an animal that fulfils both requirements, and is thus kosher. A horse is not kosher because it fulfils neither. There is only one animal in existence that seems kosher because it has split hooves, but is really not kosher because it doesn't chew its cud -- the pig.

And that's why we denigrate the pig. Every other non-kosher animal is up front about it. The horse says "I don't have split hooves, so I'm just not kosher." But the pig presents a kosher facade. "Look, I have split hooves, just like a kosher animal should!" But what lies hidden behind that kosher veneer is a non-kosher inside: it doesn't chew its cud. For Judaism, nothing could be worse than making a holy facade when your inside is rotten.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to
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Discussion (35)
February 3, 2016
Inside a pig is rotten? It is an animal given the gift of life, what is so wrong with a pig unless you believe that animals are here purely for human consumption and anything else is rotten. It's insides are mentioned to be an abomination but only to your diet.
January 16, 2016
oy vey
Are volcanoes Kosher too?
September 22, 2015
Reply to Henrietta's note on Sept 18, 2015
Probably out of the list of non kosher food, pork is the most available. I am good friends with the local Jewish seniors' home residents. All seem to have digestive system ailments like obesity, diabetes, stroke. Mostly highly obese. Could it be because of a contemporary Western diet? I hate to ask as they had peevishly replied that they eat what is tasty (kosher of course. Though some surreptitiously ask non Jews to buy food for them). By the way, I in the healthcare profession. Maybe someone should continue to study this.
Raphaelle Do Lern Hwei
September 18, 2015
Pig making a holy facade
That is so unfair to the pig. I think pigs or pork have taken on such a super non-kosher (the most non-kosher) appearance because of other people trying to humiliate Jews by forcing them to eat 'pork.' I can't remember hearing about anybody trying to force Jews to eat lobster or oysters, or a cheeseburger, but pigs, yes.
February 2, 2015
Re: Disagree
For an elaboration and perhaps a slightly different take on the issue of Pigs in Judaism, see May a Jew Raise Swine
Yehuda Shurpin for
January 29, 2015
This is one of the most poorly contrived arguments I have ever read.

First of all, pigs are exactly the way that Hashem created them (assuming you believe that Hashem created everything), and are not morally responsible for how they digest their food.

Secondly, as others have pointed out, pigs and shellfish are clearly unkosher based on the text of the Torah, while it doesn't say anywhere in the Torah that you can't put a slice of cheese on a hamburger.
October 5, 2014
Thank you for the articles on pigs, Chabad. Org!
Raphaelle Do
April 7, 2014
Even if pigs are healthy to eat, when fed the proper food that cows are fed, are they still right to eat? Understand first the verse about not seething a kid in its mothers milk. I think a lot of us will think this; to use something such as milk, against the very nature of its existence, is wrong. Using milk (which is supposed to nurture, and strengthen youth) as a tool of death against the youth, is clearly wrong- because it is a perversion of gods intended use of milk. Now i think, even if pigs are no longer fed worm egg infested, diseased feces and rotten foods, there design and true meaning of life is to dispose of those unwanted disease ridden substances. They are natures garbage trucks. They eat the nasty stuff spread around, compact it into a body, go and die, and we don't touch them, <thats kinda what i think gods plan for them is. To use a pig as a source of meat, and breed them, is a clear defiance of the lords purpose for them.
Weston O'Connor
October 19, 2013
Dietary injunctions
I suspect the Mosaic dietary injuctions were rooted in sanitation/disease prevention (likely the root of circumcision too.) Pigs have a much higher incidence of trichinosis, so eating undercooked pork can make you deathly ill. Eating a bad oyster or clam could also put you in a bad way. Fellow bottom dwellers like lobsters are guilty by association.

In Petronius' Satyricon Trimalchio, a rich Hellenized Jew, holds a feast which includes a roast pig from which birds fly out.

In the modern world, dietary laws enforce cultural identity. Jewish people who keep them are making a sacrifice and doing what Catholics call "offering it up".

I was once told that pork was one of the biggest sellers in Israel. They call it 'white steak'.
New York
July 10, 2013
Mixing Milk and Meat
This prohibition is because the mixing of these two provides a VERY good breeding ground for salmonella.