Ask The Rabbi

Porky Chews His Cud

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Animals, Genetically Altered, Kasherus

Barak from Philadelphiawrote:

Dear Rabbi,

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


Dear Barak,

Great question! The Mishna actually discusses such a case. The Mishna 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." So even if a camel were born with split hooves, it wouldn't be kosher.

On the other hand, if we could genetically engineer a kosher animal, such as a cow, to give birth to a type of camel or pig, then theoretically such a camel or pig would be kosher, as the Mishna says, "If a kosher animal gives birth to a non-kosher animal, the offspring is kosher...because whatever comes from a kosher animal is kosher."

So, the moral of the story is: If your cow has a camel, don't have a cow.

Sources:

  • Tractate Bechorot 5b
  • Rambam Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 1:4
  • Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 79,2


 
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