Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: A Lot of Bugs Are Actually Kosher

Many companies like to use "buying lunch" as a reward for "job well done".  I have therefore had several requests to explain kosher.  Eventually I just wrote down a synopsis.  One of the items on my list of not kosher was, of course, "insects".  I got several responses; they were spit between enjoying my sense of humor and incredulity that I would add something like that to a serious explanation.  I explained to both that I certainly was serious and any of them who at broccoli were most certainly eating bugs.  This did not win friends for me nor influence people to do much more than give me a wide berth.  None the less, I felt that it was important to include that fact in the spirit of open and honest full disclosure.  I also wanted them to understand why I couldn't order even a salad from a non-kosher restaurant.

As it turns out (I discovered quite recently), I was wrong.  No, I don't mean just that there is some locusts that are kosher but we don't know which they are so locusts are effectively not kosher as any other bug.  I mean there are real, live bugs now-a-days that are kosher and we eat them.  You may want to stop reading now.  You have been warned.

R' Dovid Cohen (CRC... I've been listening to all his shiurim on line) starts the bug series with a simple question: why is the Torah so careful about listing different category of bugs: water, ground, flying.  Why, the only time we've seen that before is animals being split into birds, fish, domesticated animals, wild animals, and creeping things.  Heck, it only does that because there are different rules for what permits them to be eaten.  Almost sounds like there are rules that will permit certain bugs to be eaten.  In fact, it is so "almost" that is is true; some bugs (yes, yes, some grasshoppers) can always be eaten, but there are also situations that permit eating bugs.  לכתחילה, mind you; not just בדיעבד.

Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Dei'ah 84:1-3 discusses bugs that are born in a pond may be eaten as long as they haven't left their habitat.  You are allowed to bend down and drink from a cistern filled with water bugs and you needn't worry that some bugs might get into your mouth.  Cool, eh?  Please, please, though, don't scoop some into your hat and drink your buggy water from it.  It is really implicit in the Shulchan Aruch since he says "you may bend down to drink", but the Rema wants to make it explicit.  What, you may ask, is the big deal?  If I am already drinking bugs who cares if my glass/cup/hat is clean?  Well, you see, once the bug leave the water they are forbidden and in your enthusiasm to scoop up that water into your hat, some bugs may have splashed out onto the brim and then fallen back in.  Since eating a water bug that separated from its pond is forbidden by the Torah, we are stringent.  Please note: I picked cases of pond and cistern דווקא/with precision.  The rules for bugs in rivers, canals, seas and maybe lakes are different.

One more thing: the Shulchan Aruch adds that these bugs are permissible even though they don't have fins and scales.  Obviously he didn't want you to confuse this halacha about water bugs with the halacha about fish that don't have fins and scales; said fish being obviously forbidden because... well, because they don't have fins and scales.  Which begs the question: What is the criteria by which a critter is judged to determine if it is a bug (fins and scales irrelevant) or a fish (fins and scales is the whole game)?  R' Cohen said in his shiur recorded June 3, 2011 CE that he had no clarity on that question.  Just so you don't think it is size: the biggest cockroaches are bigger then even Extra Jumbo Shrimp; you can slurp up that huge water beetle, but the shrimp is always a no-no.

Disgusting, you say?  Well, well, well... that brings us to בל תשקצו/don't make yourself disgusting.  That is a whole other discussion.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…