By Geoffrey Paul
March 9, 2010
If the Jewish world collapses suddenly, it will be the result of no Iranian missile, Islamisr terrorist attack or fascist onslaught. It will be because victory has gone to the aptly and wonderfully named Rabbi Karp in his efforts to have salmon declared treif (not kosher). Can you imagine, salmon, or lox, that mainstay of every Jewish social gathering, from an engagement to a circumcision, the highlight of synagogue breakfasts, the major ingredient of picnic lunches on the beaches of all five continents, the quick consolation, with hard-boiled eggs, for mourners - salmon not kosher?
At first I thought it was some great Purim leg-pull but I have now had confirmation from more than one source that the school of thought which has cast doubt over the use of shabbat lifts, attendance at chassidic rock concerts or surfing internet sites has come up with a challenge to the kashrut of wild salmon. The argument of Rabbi Moshe Karp, of Mod'iin Ilit, in Israel, presented in Yiddish to a gathering of his peers in Brooklyn, is that a parasite common to the salmon makes it not kosher.
He dismisses the fact that decades of ultra-orthodox arbiters have cleared the well-known and inifinitesimal parasite of any guilt in determining the kashrut of salmon by arguing that his halachic predecessors did not have access to the technology available today. This, he said, revealed that, through mutation, the parasite has developed into something else and that something else (don't ask me) makes salmon not kosher. And, for good measure, he includes in his ban American flounder, which we would identify as plaice, and - you've got to believe this - halibut.
With chicken a primary source of salmonella and beef being subject to bovine TB, we are all soon going to be reduced to being vegans which is not too bad a thing when you think of hummus and tehina and beans, barley and all the wonderful range of pulses. But that doesn't answer the problem of what goes into my occasional baigel and what partners the scrambled eggs at Sunday brunch? Tofu? Well, let me tell you, the Mishmashnitzer Rav says he has a problem with tofu - if you can make it taste like milk or meat, then might there not be a danger that, well, you know....oh, forget it!