INSIGHT: Kosher – From High to Low

Preying Birds (Not in the Shul)

Preying Birds (Not in the Shul)

“Now for the birds,” Moshe continued. “We’re going to make this simple. Nesher – not Kosher. Peres – not Kosher. Ozniah – not Kosher. Da’ah – not Kosher. Duchifas – not Kosher. Bas-Hay’anah – not Kosher.”

“Very interesting names of birds, I must say.”

“Here is the Kosher rule for the birds.”

“Huh? Is Kosher rule for the birds?! That’s never gonna fly!”

Moshe ignored all those side-comments and continued, “There are no special signs for birds. All you have to remember is that every one of these 24 species is not Kosher – any other bird is KOSHER. Period.”

“It seems to me that all the Kosher birds are of the gentler species.”

“Correct again, Watsonovsky. And using my sharp process of detective, deductive reasoning, this eliminates the birds of prey from being Kosher.”

“Huh?! The birds that pray? Where? In the Shul?!”

“No! Not that kind of pray… It’s p-r-e-y… the birds with claws, such as eagles, hawks, vultures, and owls, that grab their victims and tear them to pieces.”

“And every flying insect or any animal that died on its own is forbidden!” Moshe said. “Do not eat them!”

         “Absolutely not! Not on our menu!”

Shazak insight

Kosher – From High to Low



Almost all Kosher

Walking on Land


Most non-Kosher

Crawling on Land

Reptiles and Insects




Fish – Closer to Surface

Fins and Scales – Kosher


Fish and ShellFish Bottom Dwellers

All non-Kosher


Remember the teaching of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, a.k.a. the Ramban (1194-1270), back in Parshas Shemini of the Book of VaYikra? “You are what you eat.” Non-Kosher food is full of impurities that should not enter our bodies. There, in his commentary, the Ramban shares with us a fascinating insight into the world of Kosher. “The higher up something lives, the purer and cleaner it is.”

Consider this:

Birds – Birds live high in the sky. Only 24 of them are not Kosher and all the rest, a lot more than 24, are Kosher.

Animals – Going down a notch are the land-dwelling animals. Some are Kosher, but many more are not.

Insects and Reptiles – Stepping down another notch, we have the creepy-crawlies. Hardly any of them are Kosher.

Now, let’s take a shallow dive into the ocean which is a world of its own. Once again, the higher it is, the more likelihood it is to be Kosher.

Fish – Fish with fins and scales are Kosher, and all others are not. The Ramban writes that the fish with fins and scales tend to live near the surface, where the water is clear and clean. In addition, the scales of the Kosher fish also serve to protect them from the harmful dirt that they may encounter in the water.

Bottom Dwellers – Way deep down, at the bottom of the sea, the water is very thick and murky, full of dirt from the sea floor. No Kosher fish there! That’s the “home” of the many non-Kosher species, such as catfish and shellfish (such as shrimp, lobster, oyster and crab). That’s why they are referred to as “bottom dwellers.” They also feed off the creatures that live in the mucky, murky bottom. That’s why they are also called “bottom feeders.”

Viewed this way (from top-down, both in the world we see, and the world down below in the water), it makes perfect sense why HaShem wants us to only eat the very best!

Important note: Always keep in mind that the Torah’s Mitzvahs apply in all times and all places, so even a perfectly clean catfish or clam is completely non-Kosher. Why?

Because HaShem said so, and He knows best.

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

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