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Origin of Kosher prohibition of pork - ancient pork more dangerous than other meat?

  1. Oct 10, 2011 #1
    If you talk with Jews who don't keep Kosher, but follow other aspects of the faith, they will often excuse their not being Kosher with something like this:

    ''Well, those laws don't really apply to modern times. Back then, it made good sense to avoid eating pork, it was more dangerous to eat it back then. Now with modern sanitation, there's no real risk to pork.''

    The idea being that somehow pork was more unsanitary than meat from goats, sheep, cows etc. That seems completely made up to me. But I don't know. Is there anything about pork making it more likely to get you sick than other meats?

    The best I can come up with is that pork itself isn't the problem, as long as you cook it through, but that domesticated pigs did in fact transfer disease to humans when alive. Whether they did that more than lambs, goats, or cows, I don't know.
     
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  3. Oct 10, 2011 #2

    HallsofIvy

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    Re: Origin of Kosher prohibition of pork - ancient pork more dangerous than other mea

    Have you never heard of "trichinosis"? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichinosis Even a few years ago, it was considered dangerous to eat pork that was not "well done". I am told that todays pork, at least that raised in the "developed nations", is free of trichinosis but I still would prefer it welldone!
     
  4. Oct 10, 2011 #3
    Re: Origin of Kosher prohibition of pork - ancient pork more dangerous than other mea

    Pork, and chicken, spoil quicker than beef for some reason. Considereing they had no refrigeration methods way back then, a meal of really bad pork would set you down for a while. Have you ever considered why spices and salt were so important in food preperation besides adding taste, in something like sausage?

    Goats and sheep were the first domesticated animals before swine and bovine.
    I don't know where poultry fits in though.
     
  5. Oct 10, 2011 #4

    phinds

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    Re: Origin of Kosher prohibition of pork - ancient pork more dangerous than other mea


    I read a very well-written and apparently well-researched article many years ago that posited that ALL of the kosher meal laws were based on hard (experience-based) fact and were specifically designed to avoid various diseases and illnesses. The strongest evidence, as I recall, was for the avoidance of pork and the separation of meat and dairy products.
     
  6. Oct 10, 2011 #5
    Re: Origin of Kosher prohibition of pork - ancient pork more dangerous than other mea

    I had a friend many years ago who was training to be an Hassidic Jew. I mentioned the old trichinosis notion to him and he said that had nothing to do with why pork was prohibited. He said pork is basically bad for people. The whole kosher diet, he claimed, had nothing to do with avoiding disease, but was about sticking to a combination of foods that was particularly good for people. That's what the Hassidim believe.
     
  7. Oct 10, 2011 #6

    Evo

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  8. Oct 11, 2011 #7
  9. Oct 11, 2011 #8
    Re: Origin of Kosher prohibition of pork - ancient pork more dangerous than other mea

    So food health regulation (and industrialization) has effectively killed trichinosis in developed countries (ie US)?
     
  10. Oct 15, 2011 #9
    Re: Origin of Kosher prohibition of pork - ancient pork more dangerous than other mea

    Some sixty years ago, in a course on Middle Eastern cultures taught by Professor Hourani, I remember being told that the prohibition came about at the time that the Jews entered Palestine from Egypt. Part of the worship of the Palestinian goddess Ishtar involved the eating of a ritual meal of pork--an animal that was sacred to her. The ceremonies became popular with some Jews, and were banned by their religious leaders to avoid the people's sliding into the worship of the local gods and goddesses.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  11. Oct 19, 2011 #10
    Re: Origin of Kosher prohibition of pork - ancient pork more dangerous than other mea

    This makes perfect sense. I wonder if there's any reliable historical evidence for that ritual.

    I have read the same explanation for the commandment, "Ye shall not round the corners of your head". It is sometimes interpreted as a prohibition against some way of styling the hair that was popular with non-Jews at the time, and the point of the prohibition was to prevent Jews from starting to assimilate into other cultures. No one today is really sure what "rounding the corners of the head" might mean. The St. Mar Hassidim attempt to keep the commandement by growing those long ringlets on the sides of their heads, called "pe'ahs":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payot

    Whatever the specifics, it is pretty easy to come to the conclusion that the bulk of the commandments were aimed at giving Jews their own identity and culture after so many years of living in the shadow of Egyptian culture. During that time they were neither Egyptian nor Jewish. Moses wanted them to be a distinct and strong people unto themselves.
     
  12. Dec 16, 2011 #11
    Re: Origin of Kosher prohibition of pork - ancient pork more dangerous than other mea

    What about the prohibition against shellfish? How is that justified medically? And what about the prohibition, followed only by the very orthodox, against mixing meat and dairy?
     
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