Laws of Religion
Laws of Judaism Concerning Food
from the Biblical Books of Moses (Torah)
and the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah)
From the Biblical Books of Moses (Torah)
Flying insects that creep on all four are unclean* to an Israelite and an abomination. However, flying insects that creep all fours and have legs for hopping are permitted for eating, including the locust and grasshopper.
Touching the dead body of any of the nonpermitted flying insects renders a person impure until the evening.
Jewish Law (Halakha) from the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah)
There are eight species of flying insects (“locusts” in the Moznaim and Yale translations of Maimonides) permitted for eating by the Torah, including two types of grasshopper, two types of cricket and four types of locust (based on the Yale translation which differs from the Moznaim translation because of uncertainty about the actual identification of the permitted species). There are procedures, described by Maimonides, by which non-experts can identify permitted flying insects, based on their legs, wings, head and tail.
* We use the words "clean" and "unclean" to refer to animal species that are permitted (kosher) or forbidden for eating; other things or people are referred to as being "pure" or "impure" or, occasionally for more clarity, as "ritually pure" or "ritually impure." A separate section of this website is devoted solely to the issue of ritual purity in Judaism.
Abbreviations used in footnotes:
Gen: The Biblical book of Genesis.
Exod: The Biblical book of Exodus.
Lev: The Biblical book of Leviticus.
Num: The Biblical Book of Numbers.
Deut: The Biblical Book of Deuteronomy.
MT: The Mishneh Torah of Maimonides (Code of Maimonides). The names of the specific books and treatises within each book are given according to the Yale University Press translation and also the Moznaim/Touger Hebrew transliterations to facilitate locating the texts posted here.
F: indicates page numbers in the Feldheim Publishers, Ltd., translation of Book 1 of the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, the Book of Knowledge.
M: indicates page numbers in the relevant volume of the Moznaim Publishing Corporation’s Touger translation. (Some of the books of Mishneh Torah are published in several volumes by Moznaim, so the Moznaim volume numbers do not correspond to the Book numbers of Maimonides’ work.)
Y: indicates page numbers in the translation of the Yale University Press Judaica Series.
● The sources cited are described on the page Source Texts Used for Laws of Judaism.
 Deut 14:19
 Lev 11:20, Lev 11:23
 Lev 11:21
 Lev 11:22
 Lev 11:24-25
 MT Book 5, The Book of Holiness, Sefer Kedushah; Treatise 2 on Forbidden Foods, Ma’achalot Assurot; Chapter 1, sec 21 (pages 290M 157Y)
 MT Book 5, The Book of Holiness, Sefer Kedushah; Treatise 2 on Forbidden Foods, Ma’achalot Assurot; Chapter 1, secs 22-23 (pages 290M 157Y)
 MT Book 5, The Book of Holiness, Sefer Kedushah; Treatise 2 on Forbidden Foods, Ma’achalot Assurot; Chapter 2, sec 5 (pages 294M 159Y)