Eat No Fat

God tells us to not eat the fat from an animal which may be offered as a sacrifice, such as an ox, a sheep or a goat (Le 7:23-24); violating this rule imposes the death penalty. (25) Since all God’s Law is spiritual and good (1Ti 1:8) we should be obeying this principle.

As a bit of context, while God says the fat belongs to Himself (Le 3:16-17), He also describes the location of the fat as that which covers the animal’s flesh and internal organs. (14-15) God doesn’t require us to shred sacrifices to remove every trace of fat.

As with the blood, which we’re also forbidden to eat (De 15:23), it isn’t generally reasonable or practical to try to remove absolutely all the fat from any cut of meat. No matter how well we slaughter an animal and drain out the blood, some blood cells will always remain within the flesh. The idea seems to be that we are to avoid eating animal fat as a focus, we trim it out where it’s reasonably practical to do so.

When God blesses His people with the fat of lambs (De  32:13-14), it’s clear that all fat isn’t forbidden; baby lambs simply don’t have much fat; what little is present is evidently intended for us to enjoy.

So, we should trim the fat off the outside of a cut of meat and then enjoy the flavor-enriching marbling within as we like; not in rigid, legalistic fastidiousness, becoming judgmental, fretful or worried about getting out every trace of fat, yet not casually eating easily isolatable chunks of it either.

As in applying most any aspect of Torah, especially in non-Torah observant contexts, reason, love and moderation ought to rule the day. (Php 4:5)

We might ask why God forbids eating fat. Is it bad for us in a nutritional sense? Do animals tend to store more toxins in fat than in other parts of the body?

Since God hasn’t told us clearly, perhaps we don’t need to know. Perhaps this is a foolish question; having the answer may not help us in our walk with God. (Ti 3:9) Evidently, we don’t need to know why God tells us what He does, we simply need to focus on clearly hearing and fully understanding what He says so we can obey Him in wisdom, love and joy. (Ps 119:3-4)

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2 thoughts on “Eat No Fat”

  1. Here’s an AI chat on the topic.

    Q: How do orthodox Jews handle the command to not eat fat, when it’s next to impossible to remove all of the fat from any cut of meat?

    A: In Orthodox Judaism, the commandment not to eat certain types of fat, known as “chelev,” is taken very seriously and is meticulously observed. Chelev refers specifically to the forbidden fats that are associated with the internal organs and certain parts of the animal, rather than all fat in general.

    Here’s how Orthodox Jews handle this commandment:

    Definition of Chelev: Chelev is a specific type of fat that the Torah forbids. It includes the fat that covers the kidneys, the fat on the flanks, and the fat around the liver. These fats are distinct from the more commonly consumed fats found in other parts of the animal.

    Kosher Slaughtering and Preparation: The process of kosher slaughtering, called “shechita,” is performed by a specially trained person known as a shochet. After the animal is slaughtered, a process called “nikur” or “treibering” is carried out, in which the forbidden fats (chelev), certain veins, and the sciatic nerve are removed. This is a highly skilled task that requires extensive knowledge of animal anatomy and the laws of kashrut.

    Expert Butchers: The removal of chelev is typically performed by expert butchers who are trained in the detailed laws of kosher meat preparation. These butchers meticulously remove the forbidden fats according to the halachic guidelines. This ensures that the remaining meat is permissible to eat.

    Inspection: After the removal of chelev, the meat is inspected to ensure that all the forbidden fats have been properly removed. This inspection is crucial to maintaining the kashrut status of the meat.

    Differences in Cuts: Certain cuts of meat, particularly from the hindquarters of the animal, are more difficult to kasher because they contain more chelev and veins that need to be removed. In some Jewish communities, these cuts are not used at all, as the process of removing the forbidden fats is too complex and labor-intensive.

    Community Standards: Different Jewish communities might have slightly different practices and standards when it comes to kashering meat, but all adhere to the fundamental halachic requirements of removing chelev.

    In summary, Orthodox Jews handle the commandment not to eat chelev through a combination of skilled butchering, detailed halachic knowledge, and meticulous inspection. This process ensures that the meat consumed complies with the Torah’s dietary laws.

  2. Here’s another:

    Q: How does a Jew determine if a piece of fat is too large to eat?

    A: In Jewish dietary law, determining whether a piece of fat is too large to eat involves understanding the specific prohibitions and guidelines set forth in halacha (Jewish law). Here’s how it is generally approached:

    Types of Fat: As previously mentioned, the Torah specifically prohibits eating certain types of fat known as “chelev.” This prohibition is distinct from the more commonly consumed fats called “shuman” or “helev,” which are permitted.

    Size and Location: The prohibition of chelev applies to specific fats found around the kidneys, liver, and certain other internal organs. These fats must be completely removed during the kashering process. The size of these fats is not the primary concern—rather, their location and type make them forbidden.

    Measurement and Halachic Standards:

    Kazayit: In general, halachic authorities use a measurement called a “kazayit” (approximately the size of an olive) to determine the minimal significant quantity of forbidden substances. However, even smaller amounts of chelev are forbidden.
    Bitul (Nullification): In some cases, if a forbidden substance is accidentally mixed into a permissible food, it can be nullified if the permissible food is 60 times the volume of the forbidden substance (bitul b’shishim). This does not apply to chelev, as it is a specifically prohibited substance.
    Consultation with a Rabbi: If there is any doubt or uncertainty about whether a piece of fat is permissible, it is customary to consult with a knowledgeable rabbi or halachic authority. They can provide guidance based on detailed knowledge of the laws and their application to specific situations.

    Kashering Process: During the koshering process, the butcher or shochet removes all identifiable chelev. This is done according to halachic guidelines, ensuring that any fat left on the meat is permissible.

    Community Standards and Traditions: Different Jewish communities may have additional stringencies or traditions regarding the consumption of fat. These practices are often based on historical rulings or local customs and are adhered to as part of the community’s standard of kashrut.

    In practice, the process of removing forbidden fats (chelev) is rigorous and performed by trained professionals, ensuring that the meat consumed by Jews is in compliance with halachic standards. For individual consumption, Jews rely on the expertise of these professionals and consult with rabbis when specific questions arise.

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