Gorging and Carousing: Accounts of Jewish Dietary Guidelines and Eating Habits

Yaacov Deutsch

in Judaism in Christian Eyes

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199756537
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950201 | DOI:
Gorging and Carousing: Accounts of Jewish Dietary Guidelines and Eating Habits

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Following a survey of the depiction of Jewish eating customs in ancient and medieval texts, this chapter scrutinizes the corresponding early modern accounts. It addresses the Jews' abstinence from pork; ritual slaughter; the separation between meat and milk and the tvila (immersion) of utensils; yeyn nesekh; and the perceived gluttony of the Jews. The chapter attempts to determine how the authors of the ethnographic accounts contended with these norms and guidelines, particularly their view of the fact that the attendant guidelines and practices set the Jews firmly apart from the rest of European society. As opposed to Yom Kippur and the birth rituals, which are primarily connected to the religious sphere of life and are observed on specific dates or occasions, the laws that govern food are applicable all year round. In consequence, they also had a substantial impact on the individual Jew's daily social interactions. In this respect, the descriptions of Jewish eating habits not only serves as a case study for the manner in which the various authors grasped the Jews' religious distinctiveness, but their cultural otherness as well.

Keywords: ethnographic accounts; social interactions; Jewish eating customs; pork; ritual slaughter; tvila; yeyn nesekh; gluttony

Chapter.  23640 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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