SUBJECT: Blood in the Diet
QUESTION: What is your teaching about blood in the diet?
Thank you for your e-mailed question about blood in the
You are correct in your thinking that it is meat juices and
not blood in the meat and prime rib we eat. I too eat my
steak medium rare. You were also correct about the fact
that you were both in the letter and the spirit of the law.
Eating of blood is a practice that is engaged in fully with
knowledge of exactly what they are doing. Some hunters eat
the blood of a fresh kill. There are lots of food recipes
that include blood like blood pudding and the like. Clearly
in the meat juices of the meat we eat there could be loose,
separate blood cells but the law was not designed to make
one guilty for such an occurrence. The spirit of the law is
Below are some descriptions of how kosher meats are
prepared. You are probably right that normal slaughter of
meat does not the standards you read here. That is not to
say that regular store brand meat is full of blood either.
What it means is that you must make the judgement call when
you buy the meat. If blood is present, either discard it,
or clean it if possible. It helps to get to know your
butcher, or select a vender of meat that practices kosher
laws regarding meat.
The mammals and birds that may be
eaten must be slaughtered in accordance with Jewish
law. (Deut. 12:21). We may not eat
animals that died of natural causes (Deut. 14:21) or
that were killed by other animals. In
addition, the animal must have no disease or flaws in
the organs at the time of slaughter.
These restrictions do not apply to fish; only to the flocks
and herds (Num. 11:22).
Ritual slaughter is known as shechitah,
and the person who performs the slaughter is called
a shochet, both from the Hebrew root
Shin-Chet-Tav, meaning to destroy or kill. The
method of slaughter is a quick, deep
stroke across the throat with a perfectly sharp blade
with no nicks or unevenness. This
method is painless, causes unconsciousness within two
seconds, and is widely recognized as
the most humane method of slaughter possible.
Another advantage of shechitah is that
ensures rapid, complete draining of the blood, which
is also necessary to render the meat
The shochet is not simply a butcher;
he must be a pious man, well-trained in Jewish law,
particularly as it relates to kashrut.
In smaller, more remote communities, the rabbi and the
shochet were often the same person.
Draining of Blood
The Torah prohibits consumption of
blood. Lev. 7:26-27; Lev. 17:10-14. This is the only
dietary law that has a reason
specified in Torah: we do not eat blood because the life of
animal is contained in the blood. This
applies only to the blood of birds and mammals, not to
fish blood. Thus, it is necessary to
remove all blood from the flesh of kosher animals.
The first step in this process occurs
at the time of slaughter. As discussed above, shechitah
allows for rapid draining of most of
The remaining blood must be removed,
either by broiling or soaking and salting. Liver may
only be kashered by the broiling
method, because it has so much blood in it and such
complex blood vessels. This final
process must be completed within 72 hours after
slaughter, and before the meat is
frozen or ground. Most butchers and all frozen food
vendors take care of the soaking and
salting for you, but you should always check this
when you are buying someplace you are
An egg that contains a blood spot may
not be eaten. This isn't very common, but I find
them once in a while. It is a good
idea to break an egg into a container and check it before
you put it into a heated pan, because
if you put a blood-stained egg into a heated pan, the
pan becomes non-kosher.
I was not able to find any web sites that speak out against
the meat packing industry. Apparently there is not a
We need to be careful however and avoid questionable meat or
INTERESTING SITES ON THE WEB
The Bible verse against eating blood:
It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations
throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor
Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of
fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings.
Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even
that soul shall be cut off from his people.
And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of
the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner
of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that
eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given
it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your
souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the
Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you
shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth
among you eat blood.
And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of
the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and
catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even
pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the
life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel,
Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life
of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall
be cut off.
Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye
use enchantment, nor observe times.
Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the
earth as water.
Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is
the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.
Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as
And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the
blood, upon the altar of the LORD thy God: and the blood of
thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the
LORD thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh.
Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour
it upon the ground as water.
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