On the Applicability of the Snappir V’Kaskesses rule vis-a-vis the Gefilte Fish & the Lox

Shlomo Cohen


It is a well known fact that in order to be kosher a fish must exhibit two signs. It must have both fins and scales.

The Gefilte fish – genus; Pikecarpus, species; Rokeachus  – and the lox – genus; smokedus, species; salmoniuos- are readily observed to have neither. {Other species in the genus include Cadilloxus and Lexusloxus.}

There are three separate sub-species of Gefilte fish: gefilte fish balls, gefilte fish lumps and gefilte fish logs. The largest log gefilte fish ever captured measured 4 feet long and was served at the wedding of the Boy-o-Boyaner Rebbe’s daughter.

How then can orthodox Jews justify eating these foods, indeed, elevating them to a status just short of a Mitzva?

Careful dissection of both fishes have determined that not only do they not have fins and scales but, unique in the aquatic world, neither appear to have differentiated heads and tails. Further research has failed to identity any internal organs. Their circulatory system appears to be based on their surrounding habitat as do their respective digestive systems. The reproductive capacities of both remain a biological mystery.  Both are evidently sub-arctic species as they putrefy quickly in warm temperatures.

While the lox is apparently able to survive in its natural habitat, the bagel, it will only thrive if cream cheese is present. The gefilte fish, on the other hand, does best in a thick medium known as fish gel. Upon removal from the gel the gefilte fish will only survive if covered with a heavy layer of horseradish. Even then, it has been noted, they never seem to last very long.

So closely identified are these two fish to Judaism that childhood legends are told. For example, the age-old legends, “How the Gefilte Fish Lost its Tail” or “The Fox and the Gefilte Fish”. Moreover, no childhood is complete if a parent did not share the story, “Goldilox and the three Bers” with the children. {In the original version the three Bers were Dov Ber, Boruch Ber and Mendel Ber.} Of course, everyone knows that Dr. Seuss did not become famous until after publishing “One fish, two fish, red fish, gefilte fish” and “Thidwick the big-hearted lox”.

The halachic justification for partaking of either species is based upon several long standing general rules:

-Al Titosh M’Toras Imecha – One may not stray from the creed of one’s mother. Since generations of Jewish mothers have insisted that their children eat gefilte fish and lox and moreover exhorted them to finish every last bite, we may safely assume that they would not have fed their children anything not kosher.

-Al Tifrosh M’Mussar Avicha – One may not disregard the exhortations of one’s father. Totty clearly supported mom’s ironclad rule that the fish be eaten to the last bite up to and including punishment. This is so even when he is a rabbi.

– Minhag Yisroel Torah Hi – That which generations of Jews have done takes on the force of law, No men’s club breakfast can be considered complete without bagels and lox anymore than a Shabbos meal is complete without gefilte fish.

-There is a clear Mesora among all Jews for centuries that these species are Kosher.

–       Not only do orthodox kashrus agencies endorse these products, we have found that they are so central to Jewish identification that even the conservative rabbis give the OC [the little c inside a circle] and the reform rabbis the OR [ the little R inside a circle] each found prominently displayed next to the name of the product.





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