What Does Kosher Mean

Written by Patricia Skinner
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Many people often wonder what the word "kosher" actually means. We hear it on TV quite a bit, and we're likely to see food advertised as being kosher when we go to the supermarket, and sometimes to a bakery or restaurant. Kosher is the word given to food that is prepared according to the Jewish dietary laws. It literally means "fit" or "proper."

The laws of kosher affect most foods in some way. Meat has to be killed in a special way for it to be kosher, and should have special words read over it according to the Torah. This process needs to be supervised by a rabbi and kosher meat must be certified as such.

Keeping Kosher

Other foods that need kosher certification are baked goods, dairy goods, and more. As you can see, keeping a kosher kitchen could pose problems for anyone who is not prepared to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. For a long time, many Jews felt that keeping kosher was actually beyond them. Fortunately though, the inclination to eat kosher food is on the rise. In response to the growing demand, many new kosher foods stores are opening up, which means that kosher food is becoming more widely available to all Jews.

Because meat, dairy, and grain each have a special set of laws according to the laws of kosher, it is necessary for any foods containing these items to also be certified kosher in order to permissibly be part of the Jewish diet. There are foods that are neither meat nor dairy, and these are called "pareve," which means neutral. Even the oven used in baking kosher goods needs to be permissible. This means that the oven was lit by a flame that was originally lit by a rabbi. This is known as pas yisroel.


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