From the Desk - Kosher Pork?
Shalom Friends! What a wonderful week we are having at Beth Ora! Last Shabbat, we made special mention of the Israeli soldiers who gave their lives for the Jewish State and of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. Heshy led us beautifully with songs of Israel, so ably accompanied by the kids' choir before we concluded the service with Hatikvah and were treated to a delicious Israel-themed Kiddush. It was also so nice to have a large number of people in synagogue - I think the snowbirds have finally returned! Please keep coming back to synagogue (not just the snowbirds - everybody!) and help to create such a wonderful atmosphere in our community! The Scotch Tasting on Wednesday evening was a huge success - many thanks to the Ben Alt and his committee. And well done to all those who are joining me today at the rally to celebrate Israel with thousands of members of our community! As we go into Shabbat, we are very excited to welcome our guest speaker, Rabbi Doron Kornbluth! Tomorrow evening, about 150 people will come to Beth Ora to enjoy the Shabbat atmosphere, a beautiful community experience, some delicious food, an outstanding speech on an important topic and even a show from Batman himself! Please note that Mincha on Friday is at the earlier time of 6:00 PM and Mincha on Shabbat day is at the earlier time of 6:45 PM. If you haven't signed up for the dinner, you still get the privilege of hearing our guest speaker on Shabbat day. Rabbi Kornbluth will be giving the sermon at 10:30 AM and will be giving a talk on The Kaballah of Failure and Success at noon. From time to time, people ask me about Judaism's view on cremation. Rabbi Kornbluth is just the person to address this, having authored a book on the topic. If this interests you, please join us on Shabbat day at 7:15 PM for a light Seuda Shlisheet meal where Rabbi Kornbluth will speak on Cremation or Burial? A Jewish View. We look forward to another inspirational and enjoyable community Shabbat at Beth Ora! Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal with... Kosher Pork?!? There have been recent news reports that a prominent Israeli rabbi, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, said that, in principle, lab-grown meat from a pig stem cell is Kosher (although some reported that the rabbi said that cloned pigs are Kosher, that is clearly wrong and there is no reason why pork from a cloned pig should be treated any differently than regular pork). So... Kosher Pork?!? What's the deal? In preparing this answer, I benefited from articles written by Rabbi Gil Student and Joel Kenigsberg. In 2013, a Dutch scientist unveiled the world's first lab-grown hamburger. Since then, the 'clean meat industry' has grown exponentially and some estimates predict that clean meat may hit the shelves as early as the end of the current calendar year! Despite Rabbi Cherlow's theoretical sanction, the general consensus of halachic authorities who have written on the topic is that this pork would not be permitted. Let's look at some of the arguments for and against. One might suggest that the lab-grown pork is Kosher because it comes from microscopic pig stem cells. The Torah does not forbid anything that is invisible to the naked eye so why are these cells a problem? The answer is that these microscopic cells are manipulated by human beings and used for meat growth. Given that people are interacting with these cells, they cannot be considered insubstantial and halachically irrelevant. Another argument to permit this is that the pig cell is inedible and so shouldn't be a problem. This argument is also rejected - the pig cell is inedible only because of its small size. Really, it remains edible throughout the process. A final argument to allow eating lab grown meat from a pig stem cell is that the cell is diluted in a mixture so that it constitutes less than 1/60 of the total ingredients. According to the rules of Kosher, this would seem to make it permissible. However, this is an oversimplification of the halachic rules. If the ingredient is a substance that supports or upholds the mixture, it is not diluted in any amount. This seems to be the case with the pig stem cell which serves to support the meat that grows and is, in fact, a catalyst for the entire process. Moreover, it may not be correct to describe this process as the making of a mixture. Rather, the pig stem cell is placed in a growth medium and then grows. The result is that many more pig cells grow from the original stem cell. Rather than a mixture, this is just one substance growing substantially. There is another prohibition that we haven't yet mentioned which applies not only to Jews but to Gentiles also! There is a prohibition against eating a limb torn from a live animal. This is one of the Noahide commandments that binds all humanity. Currently, lab grown meat is developed through taking a cell from a live animal. Currently, there is no way to take viable cells from a dead animal. One Israeli rabbi has said on this basis that even gentiles cannot eat (any) lab grown meat. My understanding is that many authorities would resist that final conclusion. Clean meat will certainly enter the market sooner or later and we can expect more to be written on this topic. In the meantime, it's worth bearing in mind that arguments to permit lab-grown pork have generally been rejected by halachic authorities.