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[Heb.,=proper, i.e., fit for use], in Judaism, term used in rabbinic literature to mean what is ritually correct, but most widely applied to food that is in accordance with dietary laws based on Old Testament passages (primarily Lev. 11 and Deut. 14). Kosher meat is the flesh of animals that both chew the cud and have cloven hoofs (as the cow and sheep); the animal must have been slaughtered with a skillful stroke by a specially trained Jew; the meat must be carefully inspected, and, unless cooked by broiling, it must be salted and soaked to remove all traces of blood. Kosher fishes are those that have scales and fins. The rules that apply to the slaughter and preparation of animals are the same as those for the slaughter of fowl. The cooking and eating of milk products with, or immediately after, meats or meat products is unkosher; even the use of the same kitchen and table utensils and towels is forbidden. The cleansing of newly acquired utensils and the preparation of articles for Passover use are also called koshering. The antithesis of kosher is tref [Heb.,=animal torn by wild beasts]. Reform Judaism does not require observance of the kosher laws.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Jewish kosher foods are those that have been prepared under the supervision of Orthodox rabbis who have studied the dietary requirements of the Hebrew scriptures and will guarantee that the rules have been followed.

When matzah (bread made without leaven) is prepared, for example, the rule is ancient and simple: flour and water must be mixed together and put in the oven within seventeen minutes. Any longer than that and the bread has a chance to rise, at which point it is no longer unleavened bread. Every place in the kitchen that might possibly contain yeast residue is examined. Ovens and all utensils are thoroughly cleaned to remove any possible trace of leaven. Timers keep careful watch on the clock. Every Jew in the world knows that on Passover her bread is really unleavened if it is stamped with the kosher seal.

From wine to pickles, every food has its traditional rules. Animals have to be slaughtered in a certain ritualistic way. Some foods cannot be mixed.

Only flesh of animals that have a "cloven foot and chew the cud" are ritually pure. (Cattle and deer—yes. Pigs—no.) Water animals must have both fins and scales. (Fish—okay. Lobster—forbidden.) Birds of prey are out, as are reptiles. Blood from any animal is not kosher, and meat must be drained and salted before cooking. Meat and milk (and foods derived from each) must never be mixed. In other words, cheese on a hamburger is not kosher, nor is any kind of meat on a pizza. Foods such as fruits and vegetables occupy a neutral ground and are considered pareve.


Judaism conforming to religious law; fit for use: esp, (of food) prepared in accordance with the dietary laws