The Laws of Kashruth, most of which are found in the Book of Deuteronomy, were given to protect the Jewish people from unclean food and to preserve the fair treatment of animals.
Although the laws are complex, they are based on a few simple principles:
There should be no mixing of meat with milk (Exodus 23:19). No food item that is dairy of nature can be eaten with the same meal as meat. Meat and dairy products, especially those that are not packaged or are unsealed, should be separated on a constant basis to avoid accidental mixing.
There are three kinds of foods:
Dairy, which comprises all products made with milk. Meat, which comprises all poultry, beef, veal and lamb. Parve, which includes fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, kosher fish and eggs that can be combined with either meat or milk. Certain animals cannot be eaten. Deuteronomy 14 outlines exactly which animal, fowl and fish can and cannot be consumed. Animals without both cuds and hoofs, fish without true fins and scales, birds of prey, insects and crustaceans are specifically forbidden. In addition, those animals which are permitted must be healthy, and slaughtering must be conducted in a certain manner to ensure that the meat product is “kosher”. Kosher meat that comes in contact with either dairy products or non-kosher (treife) products is rendered non-kosher and cannot be eaten. It is necessary, therefore, to maintain separation from non-kosher meat products.
Some foods are forbidden during certain times of the year. For example, leavened products are prohibited during the week of Passover (refer to the holiday description that follows). Kashruth (Jewish Dietary Laws) is preserved and inspected by a Rabbi. Rabbi in Hebrew means teacher. There are many different kinds of Rabbis in Judaism, each with special functions, much like doctors who specialize in certain fields. Several governing bodies oversee the Kashruth for food companies, most outstanding of which is the Orthodox Union, or O-U.