INSIGHT: The Real Switchblade

Kosher Meat is What We Jews Eat

Kosher Meat is What We Jews Eat

Once again, we will rewind back to Parshas Shemini. In that Parsha, we learned about the signs that identify Kosher species of animals. But there is a lot more to Kosher meat than just making sure the animal has split hooves and chews its cud.

First of all, meat isn’t Kosher unless the animal is healthy and slaughtered exactly according to Jewish law by an expert Shochet, ritual slaughterer.

This person is not simply a butcher; he must be a learned, G-d fearing Jew and an expert in the laws of Kosher. Indeed, every time he does his job, he takes on a huge responsibility – making sure the meat Jews eat is 100% Kosher!

The animal must be slaughtered in a way that is very fast and painless. The Torah forbids cruelty to animals; we are not allowed to cause any living creature pain. That’s why the only Kosher way to slaughter an animal for food is to make a super-swift cut in the animal’s neck. The first thing a Shochet must learn is how to make his knife perfectly smooth and sharp. This is a very difficult skill to master. The Shochet runs his fingernail along the edge of the knife, to test for any nicks or bumps that might hurt the animal.

Believe it or not, a Shochet-in-training spends more time learning to prepare a perfectly smooth knife than learning the actual process of Shechitah (slaughtering)!

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Shazak insight

The Real Switchblade

The knife used by a Shochet is called a “Chalif,” which means to “switch” or “change.”

When a Chalif is used, the animal goes through an “exchange” process – it changes from something that was not fit to eat into something that is fit to eat. In other words, it becomes Kosher!

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