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What do the terms 'clean' and 'unclean' mean in the context of Jewish Kosher laws?

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www.OUKosher.org

  

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In Jewish Kosher laws, the use of the terms ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ has absolutely no relation to the ‘sanitary’ connotations of either antiseptic or dirty, nor of spotlessly clean or filthy.

In actuality, these attributes of clean and unclean are not to be found in the Bible. Instead our interpretation of the classifications of the Hebraic words ‘Tahur’ and ‘Tomei’ is closer to ‘Pure’ and its opposite ‘unpure’. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line these terms were mistranslated as clean or not-clean.

Even the categories of pure and impure have different meanings. In language, pure means unadulterated; in Biblical terms ‘pure’ and ‘impure’ mean entirely different things because it refers to a spiritual level. Something ‘impure’ can, in certain instances, contaminate the ‘pure’ in cases where, for example, they are both ‘under the same tent’

Republished with permission from www.oukosher.org


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Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.