Mullahs add “fish stealer” to official list of anti-Semitic insults and then wonder why we didn’t just smuggle something more important as long as we were at it.

Referred to as “kosher pork of the sea” (wait til Jessica Simpson wraps her head around this one), scientists from Bar Ilan have discovered the long lost shabut fish

The Babylonian Talmud, which contains numerous discussions about the fish, specifically notes that some of its organs taste like pork (although how the sages were able to make the comparison is not clear).

The great commentator Rashi wrote that it was the brain of the fish that tasted like pig meat, and that it served as a kosher option for people who yearned to eat the forbidden meat.

Certainly does raise an eyebrow. How did they know it tastes like pork? I pass no judgements. In any case, researchers and fish farmers in Israel are very excited to start growing the fish, so secular and religious Israelis alike can have a nice kosher alternative to pork.

Failed Messiah, however, is less optimistic:

Look for Rav Ovadia Yosef to permit the fish and the ‘leaders’ of Modern Orthodoxy in America to ‘defer’ to the position of haredi leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who will most certainly ban the fish on the grounds that “we” (i.e., elderly sheltered Ashkenazi rabbis frightened of the world, who have the pallet development of your average three-year-old and who regularly dine on anything once healthy cooked in copious amounts of chicken fat and salt, and washed down with the Israeli version of Tang and an occasional piece of dry sponge cake) do not have a mesora (tradition) of eating it.

Pork fish, huh? While we’re at it, lets try to find the fabled shrimp chicken and lobster apple…

About the author

Laya Millman

33 Comments

  • There are many people who are not forbidden from eating the fish, and it was they, who told the Jews. Or it could have been cynical, mean Jewish people like Failed Messiah, pitiful in their self-hate, who find any wrong in the world and immediately blame Rabbis.

    So no need to excert undo pressure on your eyebrows for this one. Just do yourself a favor and dont’ read the Dark-Side’s (Sitra Achra) Failed Garbage. There is so much poison over there, it is liable to do a person serious spiritual harm.

  • What do you expect from people who may or may not be able to have oral sex depending on whether or not they hold by the Ramban?

  • Hey… You think we’re the first generation of Bal Tshuvas? Come on, some of our greatest Rabbi’s in the Talmud were originally Gang leaders and Criminals before they did tshuva. You think they stopped short of eating Chazer. B”H anyone can do Tshuva.

  • Finally ck! No more missing those kosher reform hashgachah fish sticks with shrimp. You can have your treif-fish and eat it too!

  • Sigh.

    Does the fish have fins and scales? Then it is kosher.

    IIRC, birds and locusts are the only food where there is an issue about whether or not there there needs to be a mesorah for eating eating them.

    The reason, AFAIK, is because what defines fish as kosher are fins and scales and what defines quadrupeds as kosher are split hooves and chewing the cud. The characteristics required for kosher birds and flying animals, however, are not so clearly defined and so the Torah prohibits certain kinds as opposed to clearly defining certain characteroistics that would render a flying thing kosher or not. Thus, the rabbis drashed out which birds were kosher or not kosher according to the characteristics of the birds specified as trayf. Theus, raptors were prohibited as a class because many of the birds that were listed by name were raptors, and birds which share characteristics of raptors are also prohibited. AFAIK, this is why a mesorah is needed for birds and not for, say, giraffes, which are obviously kosher, but for which shechting would be a huge problem.

  • I think some of you might have missed the point. It is not about if the fish is strictly kosher or not. Chicken is not actually meat, but we wait the habitual 6 hours (or 3, for some of you lucky, lucky ashkenazi) to eat dairy because of its similarity to certain meats.
    Technically speaking, chicken is not any more ‘fleischik’ (is that how you spell it??) than fish. but introducing a fish that may cause the eater to be perceived as someone eating porc would cause the sin of ayin haarah (evil eye); people may think badly of the individual because they think he is eating treif.

  • Well, then, people must be as stupid as Jessica Simpson, who didn’t know whether “Chicken of the Sea” was really chicken or fish. It is a pretty sad state of affairs when people have to worry about what to eat based on the fear of what ignorami think about what may or may not be on someone else’s plate. You think that maybe the answer might be to worry about what is on your own plate and leave other people alone?

    Calling it a “pork fish” doesn’t make it pork.

    And what are you going to tell the OU about the hechshers they slap all over those soy-protein “bacon” strips and “sausage”?

  • I suppose the solution to eyal’s conundrum is for people eating shabut to have a little sign up for all to see that says, “Don’t think badly of me, I’m not eating treyf, I’m eating Iranian fish-brains reprocessed into bacon bits.” Nobody would ever think badly of a person then. Not one bit.

  • Of course there is a precedent. There is a precedent for almost any kind of narrischkeit you can name.

    A person has a piece of fish on his plate. Some schmendrick Looks over and thinks “Hmmm…I wonder if it’s that pork fish everyone is talking about? I don’t actually know that’s what he’s eating, but since it is incumbent upon me to worry about whether other people are keeping kosher the way I think they ought to, I will assume that it is. I guess they call it a “pork fish” because it’s related to a pig. He must be eating trayf! OMG what am I gonna do?”

    Puh-leeeeeeze!

    If that’s the way you want to live your life, go right haead. But include me out. The absolute second some respected Rav says it’s kosher and I can get my hands on some, down the hatch, my friend, brains and all.

    Anyway, the Germara says that it is considered a sin to take a chumra upon yourself and refrain from enjoying what you are permitted to enjoy, and that you will be held to account for this in Olam Haba.

    I’ve got too many sins to my name to add another one out of some misguided attempt to appear to be overly machmir just so I can avoid being thought badly of by some bozo who should be minding his own damn business anyway.

  • someone getting touchy! trust me i’m right there with you. I don’t follow every kosher law, but i respect a religious authorities decision to make silly ones up. for example, i chew non kosher gum. for me its the equivalent of toothpaste. its not a food, so it doesn’t need to be kosher. but some peole only chew kosher gum…
    while i agree that religious haredi jews can be somewhat anal retentive about the observation of laws, maybe its their way of surviving and keeping their culture alive. me I’m moroccan, so at home, even the really religious people in my family were not so hung up on laws and rules (unless they went black hat in which case it took all the efforts of the grandmother not to smack him in the face everytime he made people feel uncofortable about their way of practicing judaism)

    and ephraim, im just throwing this out there hypothetically, for shits and giggles wot?.

    lets say they genetically manipulate a horse to have split hooves and regurgitate its own food. will you be the first person standing in line at the kosher horse market?

  • oh and my bad, i meant maarit haayin, ayin harah is when you talk about someone like saying “oh that guy has such a nice house” and the idea is that saying something like that will cause the devil to judge him and make him maybe lose it
    .

    – so it’s completely different

  • Eyal:

    Oh. OK, never mind then.

    I hang around with Sephardim a fair bit, and in general I have found them to be a lot less anal about things that the Ashkenazim, a good deal more relaxed. While I like a good brisket as much as the next guy, Sephardic food is better and the women, in general, are prettier (Darth Vader Voice: “Come to the Dark Side, Luke…”). I can do without kitniyot on Pesach even though I think it is really stupid, but not having to do a month of Selichot makes up for it, since I can eat Sephardic food if I want and I’m already married.

    Like I said, If a respected rav says something is kosher, I will eat it (although I’m not particularly upset that the Askenazim don’t have a mesorah for eating locusts like the Yemenites do). The question of genetic engineering is interesting, though.

  • “the women, in general, are prettier”… Ashkenazi men are the only men alive who are bred with an instinct not to be attracted to their own type. I think I’ll start making some obnoxious sterotypes now like “Sephardi men are, in general, more creative in bed” or “Sephardi men are, in general, less wimpy.” Now where can I get me some barbequed Raptor?

  • Chutzpah:

    It’s really pretty simple. In general, I like women with dark hair and not-so-pale skin. Sephardic/Mizrachi women are more likely, statistically, to have these general characteristics than are Ashkenazi women.

    But, like I said, I’m already married so it don’t mean no never mind.

    And if you want to say that you prefer Sephardic men to Ashkenazi men, it’s no skin off my nose.

    I’m all for intra-marriage anyway. Helps to break down barriers.

  • agreed. half breed jews have a tendency to take the best of both cultures. good cooking from the couscous’s and less yelling from the vouzvouz’s

  • That’s vus-vus Eyal. If you’re going to insult somebody, at least get it right. Jeez.

    But if you want a story that will make you laugh (or cry):

    I knew this Yemenite Israeli woman who married an American Ashkenazi type. It would be pretty hard to find a more goyishe-looking Jew than this guy, while she had all of that down-home Yemenite goodness: luscious brown skin, huge brown eyes, masses of curly, burnished copper-colored hair, and a tuchis that could launch a thousand ships. We got to talking, and I wondered what her parents thought of her “intra-marriage”. She said (and get this) that her mother told her that she could marry another Yemenite or an Ashkenazi, but absolutely no Morroccans!.

    I’m not up on intra-Mizrachi rivalries, but this sounded pretty extreme.

  • Just a notice to everyoneone out there. I read this blog every day, among the many I read, this one laways humors me. Until today. There is no reason to name Rav Elyashiv by name and write that about him. Noone should be writing nasty, childish messages about a Rabbi like that. we can understand if you don’t hold of him, and he is not your posaik, he is too narrowminded, living in the past, whatever you feel. I personally think you are playing with fire when you write something like that about a Rabbi like him.

  • Whatever your feelings about pork fish and Rav Elyashiv, one must admit that the dude is spot on about the dry sponge cake thing. Dry sponge cake makes dessert time sad!

  • you’re better off NOT knowing what you’re missing. giving it up can suck, and who wants to get hooked on Iranian fish brains?

  • Last Man Standing, I will do 2 things, first I will agree that there is a certain level of respect that should be shown to leaders of Am Yisrael in general. But then I will point out that Laya was merely quoting those words in their entirety from another source, I don’t think that she ment in anyway to make a personal attack or slander anyone.

    As far as the fish argument is concerned. I think the quoted conclution (From another blog) is a little early to jump to conclutions in its prediction. As has been pointed out if the fish has fins and scales, then even without missora the charaidi community will also accept it as kosher. They may not eat it, for the same reasons that many Ashkinazim don’t eat sphardi food and vice versa, we eat what we’re used to. So messora (Tradition) plays it’s role in what we eat, but not in what we decide is kosher when it comes to fish. (Note, Messora does play a role, as has been pointed out in other things.) An example can be found in the Fish eaten in America. A large number of the kosher fish eaten in America by America’s Ultra Orthodox simply weren’t to be found in Europe where the communitties came from, but because of clear guidelines when it comes to fish, the new American communities were able to eat fish with there shabbos meals. (No one ever really knew what fish gifilta fish came from anyway, except for of course Bubby, but she’s not telling.)

    As far as Marat Ayin is concerned, it’s not an issue for several reasons:
    a. It doesn’t look like pork, it looks like fish
    b. you’ll be eating it at home or in a kosher resturant (otherwise if the resturant is not kosher it’s marat ayin anyway, and chances are you don’t care) and so long as the resturant is kosher people will know your food is also.
    c. When you buy it at the grocery store it will look like and say fish. Unless you buy just the pork tasting Brain, then it will look like Brain, and that just looks disgusting.

  • yitz wrote Finally ck! No more missing those kosher reform hashgachah fish sticks with shrimp. You can have your treif-fish and eat it too!

    As long as it’s not encrusted with friggin shrimp. And if it has a treif hashgachah it may as well be out and out treif.

  • There is a useful neologism known as Kaafirphobia to describe hatred against non-Muslims (in Arabic it is called ‘kaafir’ or ‘kafir’) by Muslims, radical Islamist groups, or Islamist governments.

    It is accessible at this link:
    http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Kaafirphobia

    You are encouraged to use this term as frequently as possible so that it will become popularised.

    Possible uses of this term are to refer to hatred against non-Muslims (such as Jews,Buddhists,Christians,Hindus, and Bahais) by Muslims, radical Islamists, and Islamic governments.

  • Efraim, Ain’t it true that we dont eat giraffe bec. it’s not mesorah, even though it has the simanim? (that crap about its neck being too long to know where to shect is kindergarden bullshit, according to a shochet i know [cows necks are also long, if not as long].)

  • No… the reason isn’t Mesora, the reason is that it’s just not really practical. Besides cutting it in the right place you have to drain it from blood, which means putting it upsidedown and letting it free hang,from back hoofes to tip of nose the things got to be at least 20 feet long. It’just not practical to be done for profit. Not to mention they’d have to be domesticated on a large scale. Basicly it’d cost obseen amounts of money and probably not taste noticably different then your favorite cow.

    On an interesting note, there is this somewhat anual dinner thing, where they slaughter and eat uncommon kosher animals. It’s a gallah fundraiser, I wish I could remeber who does it. But anyway, a few years ago they did eat a Giraffe, it cost something like $5000 a plate, though the details are real shadey, maybe someone can dig up the details. Anyway, that dinner was certified glatt.

  • Yitz, double check those links, they didn’t work for me. But thanks for getting them up there non the less.

  • the ppl who made the dinner are the same ppl who found the fish , it is a hobby of theirs , one is my neaghbour the other is a professor of my wife’s , the actually shechted a girrafe , but the meat spoiled so it wasnt served at the dinner , but i have seen the (either neak or hoof , don’t remember) in a jar . the meals were like 250$ a plate not 5000 at least in israel the ones in the u.s prob cost more , but not that much more . moshe feifer

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