Monday 18 March 2019


Kosher is a set of dietary laws which Jewish people take with a pinch of salt. Actually rather a lot of salt because cuts of meat are often ladled with the stuff to draw out the last traces of visible blood. I've worried about whether rabbits are kosher - they are not kosher because they chew the poo rather than chew the cud to max out the nutritional value of what they eat. Camels are not kosher on the other side of the definition - they indeed chew the cud but the hoof is not split.  Whaaa'? Looks pretty goddamned split to me [R]. Note to self: do not google "camel toe".

On the fish front, the definition is also two-fold: if the cr'ature has both scales and fins it is good to eat. Weirdly if it has scales then it is assumed to have fins. This excludes eels, sturgeon (and caviar), catfish, sword-fish . . . and of course a whole rattle of not-fish like shrimp, lobster, crab, mussels, scallops, whales and octopus. I think that one of the delights of kosher for Jews is that it encourages pedantic arguments about whether a kosher fish found in the belly of not-kosher fish is kosher - it is.

The Lord wasn't able to give a neat paired attributes {scale&fins | cud&hooves} definition of permitted birds. Instead the Torah lists -in Hebrew, natch  - 24 forbidden birds - none of which had the unambiguous Linnaean Latin binomer. And even if they had a clear label, would an averagely educated Jewish housekeeper recognise Otus scops or שעיר, שעיר מצו or Zwergohreule if it jumped up and bit him? That's rather inclusive: there being 10,000 different species of bird, only 2 dozen of which are suspect. Ambiguity and identity problems were only a challenge to the scholars of the yeshiva: nothing better than poring over an old manuscript to read the opinions of a long-dead scholastic rabbi from Lvov. The Torah is the word of god (equivalent to the Christian Olde Testament) the subsequent notes, criticism, arguments and counter arguments form the Mishnah, Gemara and Talmud.

If the forbidden birds have anything in common, it might be that they are hawks, eagles, owls and other raptors: birds that eat other vertebrates. The scholars of the Mishnah came to agree on three other 'helpful' criteria
  • having an extra toe
  • having a crop [a muscular pocket for grinding seeds etc.before the contents osdelivered to the stomach - some birds swallow small stones to help the grist-mill]
  • having a gizzard that can be peeled
all these characteristics are shared by chickens. You have to suspect that the scholars were stacking the discriminant function so that, whatever got spat out as not kosher, chicken soup and schmalz was allowable.
That diligent scholarship in the medieval ghettos of Lviv [priv] and Warsawa to determine what a good jew can eat without damageto the immortal soul has been recently emulated on Tumblr.  Here is a list of the (alas all too few = 77/800+) Pokemon which are kosher. Like with the Mishnah dealing with real animals, with clear rules most of the decisions are easy. It is the edge-cases which challenge the scholar; the grey areas; the equivocal; the noisy; the things that are not internally consistent w.r.t. to the rules of the kosher game:
  • Stantler: kosher, in my opinion. the split hooves are only visible from some angles and in some sprites. Consult your local Rabbi. 
  • Psyduck and Golduck: perhaps controversial, but i am going directly AGAINST the Kashrut Laws in Pokémon guide by declaring these two kosher. yes, they’re water types, and could be arguably treated like fish, but look at them; they’re ducks 
  • Cherubi and Cherrim are kosher. if you make them into wine, a Rabbi must be present. 
  • Skiddo and Gogoat are doubly kosher, as both legitimate goats with split hooves AND plants.
The names mean nothing to me; the SOs of Dau.I and Dau.II both know how to spell ポケットモンスター though.

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