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Kosher, from the Hebrew kasher, means proper, and signifies that an object may be used in accordance with the Jewish religious laws. In current usage it applies primarily to the diet laws, although it also covers other aspects.
The Jewish diet laws are very detailed and strict. Following the prohibition in the Pentateuch: "You must not cook the calf in its mother's milk" (Exodus, 23,19), meat and dairy dishes must be strictly separated and different tableware used. The regulations are set out in detail in the Talmud and other works on religious law.
They include for example restrictions on the kinds of animal that may be eaten, and the special ways for slaughtering these. Only mammals may be eaten which have cloven hooves and chew the cud, for example cattle, sheep, goats and deer, but not horses, pigs or rabbits. Fish must have scales and fins. There are no general characteristics for birds, so the birds which may be eaten are listed by name.
The regulations for slaughtering are also precisely set down and must be followed by the shochet (ritual slaughterer). The meat must be soaked and salted for a period after slaughter so that any remaining blood is removed, a process known as "making kosher" (eating the blood of animals or fowls is forbidden). Only after all this may the meat be cooked.

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