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I walked into a kosher Butcher store and saw they were selling “Kosher Bacon”.

 

Question Continued:

The definition of bacon according to Wikipedia is: “a type of salt-cured pork. Bacon is prepared from several different cuts of meat, typically from the pork belly or from back cuts, which have less fat than the belly. It is eaten on its own, as a side dish, or used as a minor ingredient to flavor dishes”.

I find it extremely offensive that they are calling one of their meats by that name, and that the Hashgacha allowed them to.

 

Answer:

I appreciate your sensitivities. I’m sure others might have similar sentiments.

At the same time, if we are to address this from a pure Torah perspective (not only how it feels…) there is nothing wrong with referring to a kosher part of an animal as bacon. Indeed, the belly is commonly referred to as bacon, regardless if it’s from beef, veal or calves. If the animal cut is referred to in the store as “beef bacon“, I can’t see what the problem would be. This makes it very obvious that this is not the non-kosher bacon, but rather kosher bacon. Bacon, again, being a cut of an animal.

Moreover, it’s true that some individuals might be revolted by the taste of pork, or by the Chazir in general. We indeed find that a Chazir is considered dirty and disgusting (See Mishlei 11:22. Brachos 25a. Moreh Nevuchim 3, 48). In many places, the Roman Empire is referred too as Chazir. Likewise, it’s customary to refer to it as “Davar Acher” (this phrase is also used in many places in Gemara for the Chazir), not even calling it by name.

Also, some Poskim state that although (in their opinion) non-kosher fat may be used as soap, the Minhag was not to use pig fats for anointing oneself either because it’s disgusting (Nekudas Hakesef YD 117 in the name of Migdal Dovid. He disagrees however with this), or because people are accustomed to keep an extra distance from the Chazir lest people might come to eat Chazir since many Goyim eat it. Others (See Bach and Taz ibid.) however state that the Minhag is to use all fats for anointing including pig fats.

Having said all that, we must take note that the Rambam tells us that person should not say “I don’t want to eat Chazir”. One should rather say “I really want to eat Chazir, however, Hashem does not allow me to do so.”

This indeed is one of the explanations offered in helping us understand the story in the Gemara (Chulin 110a) which appears quite strange at first glance. Rabbi Nachman’s‘s wife, Yalta, asked him to go seek out various foods which taste like non-kosher food. The Gemara relates what he did to satisfy her request. In fact, Yalta commented that for everything that we find prohibited in the Torah we can find a parallel thing which is permissible. One example mentioned there is that the fish Shibuta is the parallel of pork because it has a similar taste. Indeed, some suggest we should specifically use this fish for our Shabbos food.

The Maharsha explains her purpose in doing so: this was to illustrate that there is nothing inherently wrong with the forbidden foods per se. The taste is not a problem. The problem is actually consuming something which Hashem told us not to consume. What she did was therefore not a negative thing, rather it was a great act of piety to illustrate that we refrain from all these forbidden foods only because this is a decree from Above. The Chida (Pesach Einanyim Chulin ibid. See also Dvash L’ee Maareches Nun: 30. Cf. Sefer Hazechus Behaaloscha) writes based on this that it was permitted when eating the Manna to think of the taste of Chazir, causing the Manna to receive that taste.

It can be argued accordingly that it’s acceptable —and perhaps even commendable —to produce foods which possess a similar taste or appearance as chazir (see Imros Moshe 29 who questions the position of Rav Elyashiv on the matter based on the above sources. In fact, Rav Elyashiv wrote that his comments to distinguish between Shibuta which was created by Hashem and man-made Chazir substitutes were stated only had the Chida not given his opinion on the matter.)

Indeed, we find that when Bnei Yisroel arrived in Eretz Yisroel they were allowed temporarily to eat the head of the Chazir.

I should also mention that there are kosher foods which are traditionally called with non-kosher names, such as the sea donkey (See Avoda Zara 39a). The Chazir is just as not kosher as the donkey.

Indeed the Rashba (Mishmers Habayis 4:4) expresses surprise at his contemporary who used an example from Chazir: “What did he find about Chazir more than other prohibitions? Maybe it was written in order to shock the ears of the children to whom the Chazir is considered extremely distant…”.

Frankly, I am a bit surprised by your harsh tone about something which has no Torah source but is rather a matter of feeling, and arguably the feelings should perhaps be in the reverse direction.

As for the Minhag not to call the Chazirby its name, some explain this custom as follows: in order that the kids shouldn’t hear the name and inquire about it and then come to eat it. (Sefer Hatishbi Erech Davar. Notrikun Kav Yud). However, Reb Yeshaya Pik (in his Hagahos) argues that this is quite far fetched as there are many forbidden foods, yet they’re not referred to as such. A range of other explanations have been offered about this custom, none of them associated with the desire to avoid calling it by its real name (Reb Yeshaya Pik, because eating it leads to leprosy; Toras Moshe Vayishlach, because it will be permitted when Moshiach comes; Nefesh Chaya 156: 16 because disgusting items are usually called Acher. Others say because it portrays itself as something different than it really is).

Although we find that (according to some opinions) in the Beis Hamikdosh they didn’t use water from a well called Mei Raglayim, as it possesses the same name as the Hebrew word for urine, many arguments can be made to draw a distinction between that matter and the issue at hand.

I agree that “pork” would perhaps not be a good name as we are accustomed not to refer to the Chazir by name but as Davar Acher, and there is still a possibility that it’s linked with not wishing to state it’s real name (see Sefer Hasichos 5702 p. 21. Toras Menachem 5715 II p. 185). However, bacon which is a type of meat and refers to a part of an animal is a legitimate word to use.

I suggest that if you trust the rabbonim who are providing the kashrus about the most serious issues of Neveila, Treifah, Cheilev, Dam, Gid Hanashe, etc. you may certainly trust their judgment about such a matter which has no Torah source.

 

 

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