Re’eh – R’vi’i

Pick Me Up a Dozen Eggs, a Carton of OJ and a Pound of Giraffe Chuck

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

The Jews are God’s (metaphorical) children, so they must not self-mutilate.

They may not eat non-kosher animals, which are called an abomination. They may only eat animals that have completely split hooves and chew their cud. (Ten species are named. Of course, there are far more than ten species of kosher animal, but that’s because for the Torah’s purpose, a Guernsey, a Holstein and a Jersey are all covered by “cow.”) Some animals only have one kosher sign. The camel, the hare and the hyrax (“rock badger”) chew their cud but don’t have split hooves; the pig has split hooves but doesn’t chew cud. These animals may not be eaten.

Fish must have fins and removable scales in order to be kosher. Birds are kosher based on the process of elimination following a list of birds that are not permitted. Since we cannot definitively identify all the birds in the list, we only eat those birds that we have a tradition of being kosher. (It’s easy to see such things as we don’t eat birds of prey or scavengers, but such parameters are not explicit in the Torah.) Similarly, only kosher locusts may be eaten from among insects (though the practice among Ashkenazic Jewry is not to eat any).

Moshe reiterates that animals must be properly slaughtered and that meat and milk may not be prepared or eaten together.

The giraffe is listed among the kosher animals in this aliyah. A giraffe has split hooves and chews its cud, so it’s kosher. Some people think that the reason we don’t eat giraffe is because we don’t know where to slaughter it. No offense, but anyone who can’t find where to slaughter a giraffe also couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a baseball. The reason we don’t eat giraffe is because giraffe meat is not commercially available for consumption in the countries where we live. Our non-Jewish neighbors are not busy grilling up delicious giraffe burgers on the weekends.

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