The rules of Shechita for performing a proper cut during kosher slaughter
Rabbi Chanoch Kesselman from the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations in London has provided an accurate english translation for the rules of shechita. Following these rules will improve welfare during slaughter and reduce the animal's reaction.
There are five rules that Jewish law requires for a correct cut. I have observed that if the rules are disobeyed the animal will struggle. If these rules are obeyed the animal has little reaction. The five rules are (Code of Jewish Law Y.D. 23):
- 'Shehiyah' (Delay) - A pause of hesitation during the incision of even a moment makes the animal's flesh unkosher. The knife must move in an uninterrupted sweep.
- 'Derasah' (Pressing) - The knife must be drawn across the throat by forward/backward movements, not by hacking or pressing. Any undue pressure renders the animal unkosher.
- 'Haladah' (Digging) - The knife must be drawn over the throat so that it is visible while shechita is being peformed. It must not be stabbed into the neck or buried by fur, hide, or feathers in the case of a bird.
- 'Hagramah' (Slipping) - The limits within which the knife may be applied are from the large ring in the windpipe to the top of the upper lobe of the lung when it is inflated, and corresponding to the length of the pharynx. Slaughtering above or below these limits renders the meat unkosher.
- 'Ikkur' (Tearing) - If either the esophagus or the trachea is torn during the shechita incision the carcass is rendered unkosher and cannot be eaten by Jews. Tearing can occur if there is a nick in the chalaf (special knife used only for shechita).
The shochet also has to check the blade before and after each animal is slaughtered to make sure it is perfectly smooth and has no nicks. A nick will cause pain. If the blade is not perfect it is forbidden to use it. It must be re-honed or replaced.
The transection must be examined by the shochet immediately after the incision to ascertain that is was done according to the requirements of shechita.
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