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Kashruth Question of the Week

Please explain the word “GLATT”-is it still shayach today?

Very, very much! Not only is it relevant today, but it probably has more applications today than it originally did. Glatt is a Yiddish word for “smooth” which means that whenever you slaughter an animal in a Kosher way, part of the process is that the lungs are examined to determine that they’re healthy. Certainly, if the lungs have a perforation or a hole, then it isn’t kosher. Sometimes when the lung is examined, there is not necessarily a hole, but it’ll have lesions attached to the lung. So it’s not clear what those lesions represent.

Do they have a hole under them or not? Is it healthy? Glatt requires that the lung be completely smooth, without any lesions. And that’s why, typically in beef that’s slaughtered in the United States, the percentage of Glatt meat is so low. The reason it’s so low is because the animal is checked, and by the time we finish all this checking, they’re going to get a very low percentage of Glatt animals. A very interesting piece of information is that Glatt for Ashkenazi Jews is a custom. As far as Halacha is concerned, Ashkenazim don’t require meat that is Glatt; it’s more of a custom that we keep nowadays. For Sephardim, it’s not a question of custom, it’s a question of law.

That’s why very often you’ll see Bet Yoseph. It requires that the lung be very smooth, without any lesions. So that’s what Glatt means and that’s why Glatt is as relevant today as it ever was.

However glatt actually now has a wider connotation. It also has a connotation of a concept in Halacha called “Basar Shehora Bachacham,” which means Meat on which there was a Shaila, and a Chacham Paskened. Glatt now means, there was no shaila from the animal. There was no need for a loophole to say this animal was Kosher. That’s what Glatt has come to mean, and that’s why you’ll see Glatt sometimes even on non-meat products or chicken. We don’t check the lungs of a chicken so how do you have Glatt chicken? The answer is we’re not checking the lungs, but we’re making sure that the meat has no Shailos and is completely Kosher. And that’s why Glatt has greater, wider connotations nowadays in the world of Kashruth than it ever did.