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Is eel kosher?

Is eel kosher?

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Question:

Is fresh-water eel kosher? I know that the eel is really a fish, with very small scales and elongated fins, so shouldn't this popular sushi fish be kosher?

Answer:

Eel are not kosher, though they seemingly have both signs that demarcate kosher fish: fins and scales.

This is because the definition of fins and scales – as they regard to kosher – are clearly designated by Jewish law. Not every "scale" meets this limited definition. According to Torah law, in order to be considered a "kosher sign," a scale must be easily removable without tearing the fish's skin.

Eel's scales are part of their skin and cannot be removed without tearing the skin.

Best wishes,

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson is a writer who lives with his family in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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Ben F April 21, 2015

Derek says kosher My colleague Derek Tong says that you can take the scales off an eel. He eats lots of unagi. (hold the wasabi). Reply

Chabad.org Staff March 24, 2014

To Anonymous Please see Leviticus 11:9 where it says clearly: "This you may eat from everything that is in the water, everything that has fins and scales." Reply

Anonymous March 18, 2014

i don't see where this is in the scripture. It has scales. That is the only requirement Yahuah has given to Moshah. I dislike relying on the knowledge of a man to interpret the words of the Almighty Eluahym. I don't understand how people gain the authority to further clarify His word without having the answer in the scripture.

My question is: is the answer about what "kind" of scales are kosher vs not kosher in the scripture? Thanks! Shalom. Reply

Baruch Davidson December 16, 2008

Re: Removable scales The Talmud (Chulin 66b) explains that the scales are the "clothing" of the fish. Nachmanides (13th century) points out in his classic commentary to Leviticus 11:9 that just as clothing can be easily removed, the qualifying scales must also be easily removable. This is also the ruling in the Code of Jewish Law YD 83:1. Reply

Anonymous Oklahoma City, OK/US December 15, 2008

Is eel kosher? Rabby Baruch S. Davidson responded "According to Torah law, in order to be considered a "kosher sign," a scale must be easily removable without tearing the fish's skin."

I'd like to read this for myself as I'm looking into all types of fish and compliing a study of those that are Kosher and what science has discovered about them.

Where in Torah law is this written.

Thank you. Reply