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What is Shechita?

What is Shechita?


Shechita is the Jewish religious and humane method of slaughtering permitted animals and poultry for food. It is the only method of producing kosher meat and poultry allowed by Jewish law. It is a most humane method as explained below.

There is no ritual involved in shechita. It is a cardinal tenet of the Jewish faith that the laws of shechita were divinely given to Moses at Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy XII:21); the rules governing shechita are codified and defined and are as binding and valued today as ever and they ensure a swift and painless dispatch of the animal. Infringing the laws of shechita renders the meat unconditionally forbidden as food to Jews. The time hallowed practice of shechita, marked as it is by compassion and consideration for the welfare of the animal, has been a central pillar in the sustaining of Jewish life for millennia.

Shechita is performed by a highly trained shochet. The procedure consists of a rapid and expert transverse incision with an instrument of surgical sharpness (a chalaf), which severs the major structures and vessels at the neck. This causes an instant drop in blood pressure in the brain and immediately results in the irreversible cessation of consciousness. Thus, shechita renders the animal insensible to pain, dispatches and exsanguinates in a swift action, and fulfils all the requirements of humaneness and compassion.

It is noteworthy that since 1928, shechita has been protected by various enactments of primary and secondary legislation. Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, now incorporated into British law, protects freedom of religious belief and practice. In the United States and Canada, the humaneness of shechita is acknowledged in the Humane Methods of Animal Slaughter Legislation.

Reprinted with permission from the board of Shechita UK
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Discussion (11)
February 6, 2014
Paul Benson,

Tradition is all very well, but that's not a rational reason. Female genital mutilation is part of the tradition in many places of Africa, but that does not make it right or desirable.

I was not comparing Judaism to Islam. If you read what I said more carefully, instead of looking for offence, you will see that I pointed to the reasoning with regard to maintaining shechita is as irrational and mindless as that of Islam, both of which are acting as though they are still in pre-Industrial Revolution times, without the technology that enables us to move towards slaughter practices that avoid inflicting terror, and possibly pain, onto the conscious animal.

If you look at my past postings you will see that I approached this matter calmly and respectfully, and without the obvious anti-Semitism that you are clearly looking for. Yet still my original question has not been properly answered.
February 1, 2014
I start by saying that I think you have a valid point on the technicalities. However, 3 things come to mind:
1) Tradition plays an important part in all religions and societies and clearly does in this instance.
2) To compare Judaism, with Islam based on this tradition is frankly gross and your intention seems to be confrontational.
3) What it the point you are trying to make, Is it a quest for knowledge or to have a go at Judaism? To be honest, to tone of your comments suggest that this is what you wish to do.
Paul Benson
December 17, 2013
Great points, Ian. If the text is read properly, the requirement states the blood should be avoided, that is all. This leaves room for many methods of gathering meat, including hunting.
August 24, 2013
Response to Ian
I would also like a response to the last points that Ian raises, from a moderator preferably.
July 7, 2013
"Conclusion... There can be no doubt that electro-stunning any animal prior to its slaughter is contrary to the commandment, thus against the word of HaShem."

In that case, why do you use electricity or any post-Biblical technology at all? Yours is an argument against progress. It was God (HaShem) who provided man with the means to progress to a higher intellectual and technological, level, so what is wrong with using such technology to save innocent animals from the terror of having their throats cut?

Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 commands that adulterers be stoned to death. Why do Jews now discard commands such as these, yet maintain one about Shechita which is not even explicit? Political expediency? Surely not a part-adoption of Christianity (John 8.1-11)?

Unfortunately, there is a lack of rational thinking in these justifications for Shechita which reaches the point of being indistinguishable from the unintelligent, slavish barbarity of Islam.
July 5, 2013
The scientific method....
@ Ian ... an observation,

"thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock as I have commanded thee." - The word of HaShem spoken to Moses some 2000+ years before man developed the ability to use electricity.

Conclusion... There can be no doubt that electro-stunning any animal prior to its slaughter is contrary to the commandment, thus against the word of HaShem.

Where there may be a debate around other aspects of this topic, electro-stunning can not even be considered a valid way to kill an animal as it can never result in anything other than treif.
Scotland, UK
February 7, 2013
@ Boruch Siper

The article here states that the laws of Shechita were given to Moses according to Deuteronomy XII:21. The only instruction given is "thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock as I have commanded thee." Therefore, pre-stunning would not be in contradiction to this command.

You claim the omission of the slaughter method proves that God gave the instruction orally, which is why it's not in The Bible. This is highly spurious because if God told Moses this "orally", then why is it not referred to in Deuteronomy XII or anywhere else? Are you suggesting this article is incorrect, and that the Shechita laws have only been passed on through the many generations via Chinese whispers? If that's the case it's unreliable.
January 31, 2013
Re: Deuteronomy XII:21
Demanding a source for the prohibition against stunning in Tanach specifically is the same as someone who, for whatever reason, decides he only believes in The Book of Ezekiel and demands to bring a proof from there. The Torah is not just The Old Testament. The fact that some other religions decided to concatenate the Torah and believe only in Tanach is not our problem.

Our "Bible" is the Jewish Mesorah which includes Tanach, Talmud, Rishonim and Achronim .

Additionally, the fact that the Torah does not explain how to slaughter but merely states "thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock as I have commanded thee" proves that G-d explained how to do it OUTSIDE OF THE BIBLE, ie: Orally.
Boruch Siper
December 16, 2012
Apart from the fact that the time between stunning and cutting of the throat is too short to make any difference to the health of the animal, there is no definitive stipulation in Deuteronomy XII.21 or adjacent verses as to how the slaughter is performed. It does not state that the animal must be conscious, and it does not state that it may not be pre-stunned, neither does it make any stipulation with regard to the physical health of the animal, nor does it even state that its throat should be cut. However, it does appear that someone has extracted a 'command' that is not there. That is effectively putting words into God's mouth, and therefore blasphemous.
December 12, 2012
Re: Deuteronomy XII:21
If you look at Deuteronomy 12:21 you will see that it actually does discuss any of the laws of shecitah. The only thing that can be deduced from Deuteronomy is that there is a certain way to do it (i.e. you need to slaughter it) but it does not get into any detail of what that means. The actual laws of Shecitah are part of the Oral Torah which was given to Moses by G-d on mount Sinai, and are codified in the Talmud and code of Jewish Law. With regards to stunning in particular, the issue is that other methods of stunning, (for example by captive-bolt shot into the brain, electric shock, or gas, cause injuries to an animal and delay the slaughter unnecessarily. In order for an animal to be kosher it must be healthy and uninjured, when slaughtered.
Yehuda Shurpin for
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