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If giraffes are kosher, why dont we eat giraffe's meat?

by Rabbi Dr. Ari Z. Zifotofsky

www.OUKosher.org

  

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Misconception: Although the giraffe is a Kosher animal, it is not slaughtered because it is not known where on the neck to perform the shechitah (ritual slaughter).

Fact: The makom shechitah (region of the neck in which ritual slaughter is valid) on a giraffe is precisely defined by Halachah, just as it is for all animals, and the only impediments to shechting giraffe are cost and practical considerations. (They are among the most difficult animals to restrain.)
Background: This misconception is very widespread and is shared by young and old alike. Children learn it in kindergarten, and senior citizens have told it to me in Shul.

Before questioning how to perform the shechitah, it is necessary to ascertain that the giraffe (giraffa camelopardalis)—the biggest ruminant and the tallest mammal—is indeed kosher. The physical indicia of a kosher mammal are that it be a ruminant and have split hooves.1 A visit to your local zoo will reveal this striped giant standing on split hooves and chewing its cud. There is also a historical record of the giraffe being accepted as kosher. The zemer, listed among the ten types of kosher animals in Deuteronomy,2 is identified as the giraffe by Rav Saadia Gaon, Rabbenu Yona, Radak, the Septuagint, and many others.

At $10,000 per kilo, it would be ba'al tashchit
Regarding the makom shechitah, the Talmud probes for the Biblical source that slaughtering must be performed at the neck, and concludes that it is a tradition, a law given to Moses at Sinai.3 This would indicate that the entire neck is valid for shechitah. In most animals, one does not think about how to define the neck, because it is a relatively small area. In the case of the giraffe, one might contemplate whether the whole neck really is valid and wonder about the exact location of the acceptable zone. But there is no need to equivocate; the specific anatomic boundaries cited in for the ritual slaughter of all animals apply to the giraffe as well.4 For a pigeon, the valid region is a few inches long; for a cow, over 12 inches; and for a giraffe, close to six feet. A Kashrut expert once quipped that “anyone who does not know where to shecht a giraffe either knows nothing about the laws of shechitah or could not hit the side of a barn with a baseball.”

When I asked Rabbi Yosef Kafich, a leading rabbi and scholar in the Israeli Yemenite community, if there are any Halachic impediments to shechting giraffe, his tongue-in-cheek response was that the only problem might be that “at $10,000 per kilo, it would be ba’al tashchit (a waste)!”

Republished with permission from www.oukosher.org

Footnotes

  • 1. Leviticus 11:2-8 and Deuteronomy 14:4-8.
  • 2. 14:5.
  • 3. Chullin 27a.
  • 4. Chullin 45a; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 20:1-2.

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Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Halachah
Jewish Law. All halachah which is applicable today is found in the Code of Jewish Law.
Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
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.
Kashrut
Laws of Kosher (Jewish dietary laws).
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Shul
(Yiddish) Synagogue.
Deuteronomy
The fifth of the Five Books of Moses. This book is a record of the monologue which Moses spoke to the Israelites in the five weeks prior to his passing.