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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 (29)
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.
February 20, 2013
While the ban on mixing fowl and milk was indeed added later on by the Rabbis and could be considered a "fence around the Torah" (see mixing meat and milk itself is prohibited by the Torah. While the Torah words it in a way that was common at the time "kid in its mothers milk", the oral tradition passed on from Moshe from Sinai clearly states that this includes mixing any meat with milk.
Yisroel Cotlar
Cary, NC
February 14, 2013
G-d's Law and Men's Fences
To include "cheeseburgers" with swine and lobster is to diminish the difference between allowed and disallowed food.
Torah clearly bans swine and shellfish, seafood other than scaled fish. However the ban on milk and meat is generalized from an explicit and limited in scope half-verse. If half-verses could moan, the three: Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 14:21 would be literally whimpering under the weight piled upon them.
mitzvot are punctilious with meat and dairy separation.
Brian S
November 29, 2012
Why we should not eat pork, shellfish, etc.... Because G-D said so. the end. ce' fini .
zelia nieminen
pompano beach
August 17, 2012
If G-d says something you do it, end of discussion.
toronto, canada
August 16, 2012
Pigs - the Egyptian vacuum cleaner
I believe it was all about health in the Nile delta, the Sinai and Arabian deserts. The same with eating shellfish and other scavengers from polluted waterways in the same area. Until about 10 years ago pigs were still used in Cairo as a primary methoid of cleaning up waste from the streets, including human waste in some places. They are very good at it. The problem is what goes into an animal determines the quality of meat and with pigs in an uncontrolled environment this means practically every type of worm on the planet. Breed them properly, feed them properly and prepare and preserve the meat properly and there is no problem. It is the most popular meat world wide at about 31% compared with 29% for fish with beef and chicken well behind. If you think about it the main issues with meat recently have been with beef (mad cow disease) and chicken (avian viruses). It's all common sense really..
Canberra, Australia
November 30, 2011
Agree with the NON-Utilitarian basis of Kashrut
It is just a tad foolish to claim that the Greeks Egyptians and Romans did not have awareness of health issues and food?
Brian S
Simsbury, CT
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