The Kosher Pork
Can Pork Really Be Kosher?!?!
(Also Known As "Stephen Jerome's Personal Passover Story")
by Stephen D. Jerome
Passover is about to arrive. I am reminded of something which happened
Several years ago. Passover was a week away. I had just read that during
Passover, Jewish dog owners could only keep dog foods which were free of
homitz. I was (and am) the proud owner of a dog, so I sought rabbinical
The rabbi read from a list of permitted dog foods. One of the brands on
the list was a "beef and bacon." Bacon comes from the pig. How could this
be, I asked? Why would an Orthodox Rabbi instruct me to bring a pork
product into my home. The rabbi asked me, "Are you buying this for
yourself to eat or for your dog?" He explained that it is not forbidden
for Jews to possess pork. It was only forbidden for Jews to eat pork
products. He went on to explain that the Talmud expressly states that if a
Jew has pork, he should feed it to the dog. Since I had a dog, this would
follow the Talmudic instruction.
The rabbi also noted that this rule was in contrast to feeding the dog a
mixture of milk and meat. Jews are expressly prohibited from deriving any
benefit from mixing milk and meat. That, he explained, included feeding it
to a dog. Over the next days I began to question: Why would the Talmud
expressly direct Jews to feed pork to the dogs? Certainly, the Talmud would
not direct a Jew to perform an act that violates the laws of Kashruth.
I sought a clue from the Midrash (a compilation of Rabbinic literature from
roughly 400 to 1200 C.E). The Torah states that just before imposing the
Tenth Plague upon the Egyptians (killing of the first born), God told Moses
that while there would be loud wailing throughout Egypt, but that where the
Hebrews lived, not even a dog would bark. The Midrash states that just
before the Angel of Death descended, God instructed the dogs living amongst
the Hebrews to be silent. The dogs complied with loving obedience. God
was so impressed that He told them that because they had obeyed with such
love, he would reward them. He would instruct the Jewish people that
hereafter they should give their non-kosher food to the dogs. This
explains giving non-kosher food to the dogs in general. However, the
Talmudic directive deals only with Pork. It does not mention other
non-kosher foods as rabbits, shrimp or lobster, etc. Thus, this Midrashic
story did not explain why the Talmud instructs Jews specifically to feed
pork to the dogs.
The first night of Passover arrived. As I began to eat the Seder meal, I
thought to myself, that this was the first time I had ever attended a Seder
which had truly kosher food. And I thought of my dog at home, who was
eating his beef and bacon. Suddenly! The answer came to me in a flash! We
are told to feed pork to the dogs because pork is Kosher for dogs. The
Talmud does not tell us to feed pork to Gentiles. That is because the laws
of Kashruth do not apply to Gentiles. However, the Talmud gives us a
directive to feed pork to the dogs, so it must be that Pork is a kosher
food for dogs! (When I returned home, I had to tell my beloved mutt, Duke,
"Sorry, boy, no more cheeseburgers. But here, enjoy a ham sandwich! Oh, by
the way, Duke, since it is Passover, your ham sandwich is on Matzo!"
In conclusion, while pork is certainly not Kosher for a Jew to eat, it is
Kosher for our beloved pooches. Thus, by feeding pork to our dogs, we are
actually helping them to keep kosher! A Mitzvah in and of itself!
A very joyous and Kosher Passover for you - and for your dogs!
P.S.: A point to ponder: Does this mean that we should make sure that the
pig was properly slaughtered in a kosher manner, and that it was salted and
soaked? Do we need a Shochret? I'll have to ask my Rabbi!