Why is Honey Kosher?

Question

On Rosh Hashana we eat apple and honey as a sign for a sweet year. Apropros, I have a question that no one I know can answer:

Why is honey Kosher? I thought that the product of non-Kosher animals was not Kosher as well. Bees are not Kosher, so why is honey Kosher?

I appreciate your time and hope you know the answer.

 

, 11 months

Answers

  1. The Sages teach, “That which comes from something which is Tameh [non-Kosher] is Tameh, and that which comes of that which is Tahor [Kosher] is Tahor.” the product of a non-Kosher animal is not Kosher. So why is bee-honey Kosher?

    The Talmud, ibid. 7b, quotes a Beraita (a Halachic teaching from the time of the Mishna) which says: “Why did they say that bee-honey is permitted? Because even though they bring it into their bodies, it is not a “product” of their bodies [it is stored there but not produced there].” All the Sages of the Mishna agree with this ruling. Only one of them, Rabbi Yaakov, disagrees with the reasoning. He claims that bee-honey is Kosher based on his interpretation of Leviticus 11:21. According to him, the verse prohibits one to eat a flying insect, but not that which is excreted from it.

    Maimonides, Laws of Forbidden Foods 3:3, codifies bee-honey as being Kosher, as does the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, 81:8.

    You may wonder: How could one even think that bee-honey is not Kosher, the Torah refers to the Land of Israel as “a Land flowing with milk and honey“, Deuteronomy, 8:8! Certainly the Torah would not choose a non-Kosher product as a means for describing the beauty of the Land of Israel! This may come as a surprise, but the honey mentioned in the verse about “milk and honey” is not bee-honey, rather it is fig-honey. The Talmud in Tractate Berachot, page 41b, Rashi, tells us that another verse “It is a Land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates – a Land of olives and honey” is referring to date-honey.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team