Observant Jews follow a set of dietary laws derived from the Old Testament (Torah) and the Talmud known as the Kosher laws. Because the rules of kosher dietary observance require more than just a choice of food, but rather an all encompassing set of rules regarding cooking foods, the cooking utensils and how we think about food- following kosher dietary laws really should be known as following A KOSHER LIFESTYLE.
Kosher dietary laws tell us that we cannot cook or eat any dairy products with meat products. This derives from verses in the Old Testament (Torah) that say we should refrain from cooking a kid (goat) in its mother's milk (Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21). The Talmud (Oral Law) further explains that this law includes any dairy products mixed with meat or poultry. We can neither eat it or cook them together. This requires a kosher home to carry a separate set of dishes and cooking pans for their dairy meals and another for their meat meals. Some kosher homes even carry a partial third set of cooking utensils for foods that are Pareve or neutral (ie. neither meat or dairy derived.) Further verses restrict eating the blood of the animal (Leviticus 7:26-27; Leviticus 17:10-14) and detail the proper and most pain-free manner of slaughtering an animal.
Kosher animals are defined as animals that have a cloven hoof and chew their cud (ruminate). Kosher animals include cow, goat and sheep. Non-kosher animals include pig, horse and camel.
As one can see from the basic rules of kosher dietary laws, a person who observes these laws is constantly required to think about the foods that he eats and their sources. Because meat and dairy are not eaten or cooked together, a person who keeps kosher is quite limited regarding the places he can buy prepared foods or dine in a restaurant. In fact, a person must carefully check manufactured products and restaurants for their kosher certification, or else refrain from eating those foods. This obviously requires a certain discipline that prevents kosher observers from simply buying a snack any time or anywhere.
A benefit of is that it brings a community of like-minded people together. People who follow the kosher dietary laws are by and large also observant of other Jewish religious practices, such as the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Because Sabbath and holiday meals come so often, kosher observers regularly invite each other to their homes to celebrate together. The Sabbath meal itself could be likened to a Thanksgiving meal each Friday night and Saturday lunch. It brings friends and family together to share good food, wine, candles and meaningful conversations.
For further information on kosher laws, cooking and the like, please visit http://all-things-kosher.com
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