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New European Chicken Causing A Kashrus Uproar In Eretz Yisrael

Members of the Eida Charedis’ Vaad Shechita, prominent rabbonim and kashrus experts gathered in the home of Eida Chareidis Ravaad HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita to determine if a new chicken, imported from Europe, has a kosher status. The discussion lasted for four hours!

The new bird is called (בראקל) Braekel, and according to HaGaon HaRav Sternbuch, the bird is not kosher. However, in Bnei Brak, HaGaon HaRav Nissim Karelitz Shlita has ruled it is kosher.

The chicken was raised in Europe in an area void of Jews and Rav Sternbuch feels it lacks the ‘mesora’ required.

Photo: The meeting in the home of Rav Sternbuch.

Following is a link to a Wikipedia article on the braekel, citing it was not cultivated for its meat, but merely for its egg-laying properties.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photo Credit: Chadrei Chareidim)

18 Responses

  1. If Wikipedia is to be believed, if is from an area that had many Jews living until recently (and actually there are still large some communities). It appears to be a chicken, Assuming it breeds with other chickens, its a chicken. While a new species (e.g. a Turkey) should raise a shailoh, a chicken from western Europe is normal.

  2. I don’t believe this was meant to be a Purim spiel so the obvous question is, if a chicken is a chicken and has all the required attributed from the Torah for the kashruth of a fowl, why would anyone care about the bird’s “mesorah”. Perhaps more to the point, what is meant here by “mesorah” in relation to a chicken. Finally, whats the difference if yidden did or did not live near the farm where the chicken was raised?? There are kosher beef cows and sheep raised in parts of the South America and Australia where on some days you coudn’t find a minyan even in the schlachthois unless the cows and the sheep were counted ?

  3. I don’t understand… is this new chicken a chicken? If it is, how can it not be kosher? And what makes a “new” chicken? The whole story sounds odd.

  4. Gadol,

    Just because a bird is a bird, it must have the characteristics of kosher birds. Even after the characteristics check out, there must be a mesorah that the specific species had one been eaten as Kosher.

  5. Did they actually show him a live soecimen? One wonders just what they are telling HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch Shlita. This article states “The new bird is called Braekel”. Wikipedia states that “Braekel or Brakel is one of the older European chicken breeds”. Are they talking about the same bird? And even without that I have to agree with akuperma on the question of just what criteria are they using to determine if this a “new” species?

  6. Miss Gadolhadorah,

    As required by Jewish law, (Halacha), in order to eat any bird or poultry, a mesorah is requires. Since we do not know exactly the specific birds the Torah declares Kosher, we need to have a mesorah for that specific bird. For example, we do not eat all duck, just the specific duck we have a mesorah for. The same is true for a “chaya”. A regular “behayma” on the other hand, does not require mesorah. As long as it chews it cud and has split hooves, it’s kosher.

    In order to eat a chicken, or it’s eggs, we need to have a mesorah for that specific species.

  7. Gadolhadorah and hml, presumably this chicken has significant biological differences to the normal chicken we all know and love, which are the reason why these ones are only used for eggs.

    Reb Moshe argues that this is a new type of animal, whereas Reb Nissim considers it the same.

    If it is a new animal we wouldn’t eat it as the minhag is to only eat animals for which we have a mesora that they’re kosher, even if they have the simonim of kashrus.

    If Jews lived nearby, and no-one has ever heard that there is a bird similar to chicken which we don’t eat for lack of mesora, then we can assume that the local Jews ate it, hence we do have a mesora.

    However an animal which is clearly a cow or a sheep, obviously does not need to have local Jews.

  8. akuperma: it’s a very outdated notion. Many years ago this was the prevailing opinion: creatures of the same species could procreate together, creatures of different species could not. In the last 30 years or so, a number cases were documented in which members of obviously different species successfully procreated.

  9. Gadolhadorah: we never go by what Chumash describes as kosher birds and ALWAYS rely on the mesorah for it. It is very difficult and often impossible to know for sure which birds prey and which never do. Example: some birds might prey in the wild but don’t when they are raised on the farm. That’s why so many of us don’t eat turkey: there isn’t a clear mesorah for it.

  10. shmuelG and others: you do not eat turkey?? the vast majority of jews do eat turkey today even if there was no mesorah and,clearly there was no mesorah as turkeys are american birds, unknown in Europe. the chicken that is discussed here is clearly a chicken, looks like a chicken, walks like a chicken and is a chicken. It is an ancient chicken and I am petty sure that jews ate it all throughout the middle ages. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how you cannot accept that this is a chicken.

  11. A thought: Someone used to modern chickens (which have been genetically modified, radically so, over time) saw one these old-fashioned (in the US, the term is “heritage breed’) birds and didn’t realize it was chickens used to look like. The person thought is was an unfamiliar critter, and asked a shailoh. If the person misinformed the person who was asking a shailoh, and failed to mention that the bird was a breed of chicken that while now rare, was once common in western Europe (a reason where frum Jews still live, and have done so for 2000 years), then of course there would be an issue. That is why in published tseuvahs, the rav writing the tseuvah states the facts upon which the tseuvah is based. If you misstate the facts, the tseuvah can be no better than the question.

  12. Centuries ago, the rabbis thought that the turkey came from India and gave it a pass. Wild turkeys are birds of prey, will dine on roadkill, and attack mailmen.
    Chickens, in theory, are not birds of prey. They will kill other chickens. Nothing docile about them.
    Now the terducken (sp?), that is an interesting bird requiring a generation of study and debate, perhaps more.

  13. Here, for a change, is informed comment.
    The Avnei Nezer (Yoreh De`ah 1:75:19-21) says that successfully cross breeding with a min tahor is proof of kashrus, even for birds.
    However, the Chasam Sofer (Yoreh De`ah 74) says that it is arguable whether the hybridization proof applies to birds.
    Most importantly, the issue boils down to whether we are chosheish for Tosfos’s Shittah in Niddah 50b, where he explicitly rejects the interbreeding proof regarding oviparous animals.
    Sometimes, it’s important to reserve judgment until you do some investigation, because once you’ve yielded to a prejudice, it tends to concretize.
    I do know several things: that just as in the case of the Muscovy duck, which is viewed as treif in the US and Kosher in Israel, there is validity on both sides, and careful people will have to ask questions instead of relying on assumptions.

  14. @rabbiofberlin – I think you should call or write Rabbi Sternbuch right away and straighten him out. You know, teach him a thing or two. You obviously know so much more than he does about “what’s flying.”

  15. @Eleizer – Thank you for your well researched and therefore informative and useful post. You may be interested in seeing the Gur Aryeh in Noach on “hishchis kol basar” on the Rashi the animals were nisdaveig min b’she’eino mino. Our times are no different perhaps. Would that effect this approach / heter?

  16. What a fascinating idea! But as far as I know, the hishchis issue only meant mating between species. Do you have any sources for saying that these matings produced offspring?

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