Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Um … Pork May Actually Be OK Now

New scholarly finding threatens to upend kosher laws

Print Email
Maybe we will just be vegetarian now?(Dineto/Flickr)

Hard to know how to preface this, so let’s just dive in: Cliff Stern, an independent scholar based out of Brooklyn, has determined—seemingly conclusively—that pork and shellfish are kosher, while all that we thought was kosher—poultry, red meat, and fish with scales—is not. Crucially, rabbis of several denominations, in both the United States and Israel, have endorsed Stern’s findings. Basically: Scavenging good; chewing cud bad. Get used to it, I guess?

Reached by phone, Stern explained that a newly uncovered document from an archaeological site in the Negev reveals that Jews have been reading and interpreting the laws of kashrut—originally set out in the Torah itself—all wrong, for approximately 2500 years. “Around the time of Ezra, that’s when the misinterpretation occurred,” he said. “Back then, the Jewish tribes would eat pork and forego most other sources of protein. At some point,” he added, “a rather clumsy rabbi misread the injunctions and announced that everyone had been doing it all wrong—at which point he ‘corrected’ things to the way they are now, with pork and lobster and what-not outlawed, and cow and chicken okay.”

Rabbi Judah Rosenthal, an Orthodox scholar in Jerusalem, tentatively confirmed Stern’s finding. “It makes sense, in a way,” he told me. “Now we know why they sacrificed lambs: They weren’t allowed to eat it.”

The good (or bad?) news is that Passover rules are unaffected by this news: During the eight-day festival later this month, Jews are still prohibited from eating dough that has been raised. “Of course that’s the same,” Stern laughed. “That’s just logical.” On the contrary: Nothing seems logical anymore.

Pork: The Other Kosher Meat [Wnet]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Steve Stein says:

This should have been posted on the first of Adar, no? But right now I’m going for the bacon double cheeseburger!

Mark says:

well played

Rachel says:

And David Schwimmer is dead!

But they ate the lamb. It’s clear that was the obligation. Rabbi Rosenthal in Jerusalem is wrong. Frankly, people are free to eat what they want. But this kind of sophistry is, er, for the birds.

Richard says:

You almost got me. Happy April Fools Day!

Chana Batya says:

Very funny. You got me (but I was not about to rush out for a BLT) and well, if I can be gotten that easily, well, too bad for me, right?

Michael L. says:

F’in genius!!

Dani says:

I would not be excited to eat too much of swine. Lamb is not as health either, as well as beef. Chicken is my favorite.

Beth says:

Hahahahahaha. I heard the Lubavitcher Rebbe tried to tell us this before his stroke, and the information was suppressed by the International Jewish Conspiracy.

Marilyn says:

It’s too late for a Purim joke so, April Fool’s!

The first of April is hell for gullible folks like me. Thanks for making it special!

JCarpenter says:

Great news, as beef has recently been giving me heartburn; lamb, garlicky reflux; and who trusts fish these days? Can’t wait to BBQ !

By far, my favorite April Fool’s joke of the day!

Jeff says:

Don’t forget to order a milkshake w/ that double bacon cheese burger.

Jed Brandt says:

Trying to figure out which arbitrary set of dietary prescriptions to follow based on debatable documents from thousands of years ago seems very much like a fool’s errand.

We should eat food that is healthy, sustainable and ethically produced. What should we make of a ban on, say, cheeseburgers — when the largest kosher chicken processing plant in the country was using child labor?

Child labor is kosher. Cheeseburgers are not. This is not a way to make ethical decisions.

Ah! I fell for it!!

Mr.Brandt, that has been bothering me for some time but is easily resolved. Who do you figure would have best access to false identity cards;some underaged and not very literate child-laborer endangered in Iowa or some company in Brooklyn that is willing to ship you your complete dinner anywhere in the United States for the upcoming Holidays?
I’m at an age where that concerns me. So it is simple, don’t order from Brooklyn but stick with Zabars on Broadway at 80th.
I had realized immediately that this meat-packing slaughter-house was situated in the vicinity of where my uncles in my childhood would go to play baseball on nice summer evening as soon as they were done with the milking and had washed up while my young cousins and I would escort the cows back to pasture. The heroine and hero of the evening who knew exactly what to do when the nun,left-in-charge,came to lock up the church doors because the elderly Pastor was away at a meeting with other clerics,and discovered the church interior was filled with crying mestizo women and children who take literally what they have always done, take Sanctuary in the church. She got right on the phone and told the old Luxembourger priest to get right back; she had an emergency for him.
I recall this kind of thing happening before and Fr.James Groppi immediately contacted Marlon Brando,to get out to Wisconsin because the Menominee Indians were huddled at the Monastery church awaiting the onslaught of the FBI ala Pine Ridge that had put Leonard Peltier in prison for life while the agents, massacred and dismembered the hands from a woman,in their awareness how her family would interpret this atrocity.
Just as Brando had arrived tout suite, the Luxembourgois priest did what was required;organized his flock for Rogation Days processions(which resembles a protest)in which the participants pray aloud the litany that rain be allowed to fall.That worked.The Government got the message.

littlebadwolf says:

moishe kapoyar!

On April 1 only. Right? Oy! Another set of dishes. Almost got me. Too many affirming Jews, no way would that many Jewish scholars roll over fast.

Moishe says:

Not funny at all.

Jonathan says:

I just had to look at the date. Hah!

If in doubt, click on the link at the end that says wnet on it. Very clever.

Almost got me but the minute I read there was corroboration by other Jewish scholars with few dissenting commentaries, I laughed out loud.

Moshe says:

Everyone knows chickens come down from dinosaurs, right?


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Um … Pork May Actually Be OK Now

New scholarly finding threatens to upend kosher laws

More on Tablet:

Obama: Denying Israel’s Right to Exist as a Jewish Homeland is Anti-Semitic

By Yair Rosenberg — The president draws a line in the sand in his latest interview