Technology continues to dazzle the halachic imagination in ways that our ancestors could not have ever imagined. Researchers in the Netherlands managed to create soggy pork and are looking into ways of improving its texture so that it might be an edible alternative to eating real meat. To date, nobody has yet to taste the meat to see how it fares, but assuming that it is tasty, rabbis will have to determine whether it is fit for kosher consumption or not.
According to the European news, “You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals.” Meat produced in a laboratory could reduce greenhouse gas (a.k.a., “flatulence” and believe you me, the French, British, and Swedes are real experts on this problem!) emissions associated with real animals. Those clever little Europeans–they are always worrying about air pollution and global warming!
Ever since the days of watching Star Trek, I always wondered what would be the status of replicator generated food? Would the laws of kashrut even apply? Obviously, I am reasonably certain the majority of Haredi rabbis would look for a thousand reasons why they should prohibit such food.
That being the case, I went to the classical texts of Jewish law to see for myself what the interpretive possibilities might be. There is one story from the Talmud that reminds me about this case. We read that “R. Hanina and R. Oshaia spent every Sabbath eve in studying the ‘Book of Creation’ by means of which they created a third-grown calf (the time when a calf’s meat is considered to be at its tastiest–Rashi) and ate it.”
Unfortunately, the Talmud does not inform us whether the two rabbis mixed the meat with milk, or whether they even ritually slaughtered it; all it says is that they merely ate it–without ritual slaughter, because the laws of kashrut did not apply to the esoteric sciences that produced the animal in the first place! One could argue that the esoteric method of the Sages is analogous to the new esoteric technology of science. Continue reading “What is the kosher status of laboratory “grown” meat?”