The Root Cause Chinese Food is Kosher

The sage Hillel, when asked how long a man’s legs should be, replied, “Long enough to reach the ground.” Asked how long a man’s root should be, Hillel gave the same answer.

The word kosher comes from the same root as kashrut: the law that tells us what is kosher. But kashrut is more anciently derived either from  cash root, which is the fee that Chinese chefs pay hunters for the roots of male beasts such as tigers and rhinoceroses, or from cosh root, which is the hunter’s trick of clubbing such beasts in the root with a blackjack. (Slaughter by cosh root does not meet the requirements of shechita, the Jewish ritual of humane animal slaughter, but you try cutting a rhino’s throat without coshing it in the root first.) The chefs grind the beast roots into powders added to Chinese food to promote potency. Since the Torah commands Jews to be fruitful and multiply, and Chinese food serves this purpose, Chinese food is kosher.

A problem arises among some old Jewish men, for whom potency connotes stench, not virility. Such Jews eat Chinese food to drive away bill collectors and Seventh Day Adventists. Their conduct is a shanda but the rabbis can’t get close enough to these old boys to pass judgment, or even to kvetch.

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