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BEES, COWS AND CAMELS

Mar 4, 2008

If science could genetically alter an animal that wasn’t kosher (a camel for instance - which chews its cud but does not have split hooves), to give birth to a camel which does have split hooves, would it then be kosher?

The Talmud (Oral Law) actually discusses such a case and says, "If a non-kosher animal gives birth to an apparently kosher animal, the offspring is not kosher...because whatever  comes from a non-kosher animal is also non-kosher." This is because it is a member of that species even if its appearance is somewhat different. In fact the question became somewhat less theoretical in 1984 when an AP news bulletin reported that a species of pig had been found in Indonesia called the babirusa, which has two stomachs however and chews its cud (although this was eventually dis-proven).

On the other hand, if we could genetically engineer a kosher animal, such as a cow, to give birth to a non-kosher type of animal, theoretically it would still be kosher...because whatever comes from a kosher animal is kosher."

 Well in that case, why is honey Kosher given that bees are not Kosher?
 
The Talmud asks this question too and responds: ”Because even though they swallow it, it is only stored there but not produced by the animal (unlike the eggs of a non-kosher bird or fish - which is why caviar isn’t kosher).” Hence Maimonides codifies bee-honey as being Kosher, as does the Shulchan Aruch.

You may wonder: How could one even think that bee-honey is not Kosher, since the Torah refers to the Land of Israel as "a Land flowing with milk and honey"! Certainly the Torah would not choose a non-Kosher product as a means for describing the beauty of the Land of Israel? Simply the honey mentioned in the verse about "milk and honey" is not bee-honey, it is date-honey.

TAGS for this article: Honey | Bees | Nature | Kosher