Nachal novea; makor chochma -
A flowing river; the source of wisdom (Mish. 18:4)

Parshas Sh'mini 5756

(Leviticus 9:1-11:47)

"This may you (the Jews) eat from everything that is in the water: everything that has fins and scales in the water, in the seas, and the streams, those you may eat." (Leviticus 11:9)


When a kosher animal, one that has split hooves and chews its cud, is ritually slaughtered the animal part, which is associated with immoral behavior, is destroyed and the human soul that had been trapped there is released and elevated to the upper worlds. It is a positive commandment from the Torah to perform ritual slaughter, known as shechita. However, one is not obligated to fulfill this commandment, in contradistinction to the commandment to blow the shofar (ram's horn) on Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year). One is obligated to perform the commandment of shechita only if one desires to eat meat. There is no Toraitic obligation to eat meat, therefore, there is no must to fulfill shechita. Shechita is mentioned only briefly in The Written Torah. However, all of its complex details were related orally to Moshe (Moses) at Mount Sinai and were not included in the written text, as the verse says, "You may slaughter from your cattle and your flocks that Hashem has given you, as I (Hashem) have commanded you." [Since we find no explicit teaching in the Torah regarding ritual slaughter, this verse alludes to the existence of the Oral Law that was communicated to Moshe at Sinai. Obviously, if a law in the Written Torah is not detailed as to how to keep it, Hashem must have taught Moshe the particulars in another way. (Rashi)] (Deut. 12:21)

 Fish are excluded from the laws of ritual slaughter. One must simply wait until the fish expires on its own, and then it is permitted to be eaten, as the Talmud teaches, "[From which verse] do we know that fish do not require to be ritually slaughtered? 'If all the fish of the sea will be gathered for them (the Jews), would it suffice them?' (Numbers 11:22) This verse suggests that mere gathering [of fish] is sufficient [to render them fit for eating without the need for ritual slaughter]..." (Talmud: Chullin 27b) (Aruch Ha'Shulchan: Hilchot Shechita 1) The fact that the Torah designates an animal as kosher should be enough. Why does the Torah require that an animal, already designated as kosher, go through shechita? Besides, isn't shechita cruelty to animals? Why are fish exempt from shechita? In the following paragraphs, based on the teachings of Rabbi Nachman and his chief disciple Rav Noson, let us delve into the nature of the laws of ritual slaughter.


Rabbi Nachman says that the desire for sexual immorality is the root of all sin. This evil is dependent upon the eyes. Every nation possesses good and bad characteristics, but the one evil that is found amongst all of the nations of the world, in one form or another, no matter how well they might try to disguise it, is the desire for immorality. This is why Rabbi Nachman defines this licentiousness as the universal evil. Rabbi Nachman explains that many of the people who have unfortunately fallen into this sin [and did not repent] are reincarnated as animals in their next lives as a way to rectify their sin. Since immorality is associated with bestial behavior, it is only appropriate that the one who has acted in such a fashion, should come back as beast. When a kosher animal, one that has split hooves and chews its cud, is ritually slaughtered the animal part, which is associated with immoral behavior, is destroyed and the human soul that had been trapped there is released and elevated to the upper worlds. Shechita eliminates the spiritual energies of bestiality and immorality from an animal so that the animal's meat is rendered spiritually safe and is thus permitted to eat.


Rav Noson teaches that shechita is associated with circumcision. Just as circumcision is performed with a sharp implement to cut away the foreskin (which contains the spiritual energies of immorality), so too ritual slaughter cuts away animalism, which contains the spiritual energies of immorality.


[The following is intended solely as an attempt to explain a difficult concept, which even after explanation is not fully comprehensible. We hope that, through this explanation, our readers will gain a greater understanding of Hashem's universe. Although no affront to any nation or group of people is intended, we realize that this passage can be construed as offensive and so, offer our apologies in advance.] There is a law called basar ha'misalem min ha'ayin, meat that is hidden from the eye. This law states that kosher meat must be under the constant supervision and watchful eye of a Jew from the time it is slaughtered until it is consumed. If at any time there is a lapse of Jewish supervision, the meat cannot be eaten. [Note: There are a few exceptions to this rule c.f. Shulchan Aruch: Yoreh Dayah 63)] Rav Noson explains the reason for this law. As mentioned above, shechita removes the spiritual energies of immorality from the flesh of the kosher animal. Also mentioned was the fact the nations of the world all possess the universal evil, the desire for sexual immorality. The eye is so powerful that it can transmit the spiritual essence of an individual onto the object of his gaze. Therefore, when a Gentile gazes upon unsupervised kosher meat, the spiritual energies of immorality that the shechita had removed are brought back to the meat, it regains its former forbidden status and now cannot be eaten. However, when meat is under the watchful eye of Jewish supervision, this prevents any outside spiritual energies from affecting it. In this particular case, it is the supervision that counts. If the meat is under Jewish supervision, even if a Gentile gazes at it, there are no negative effects upon the meat. The energies emitted from the Jewish supervision serve to protect the meat from any possible contaminating energies emitted by the Gentile's gaze. [Note: This is not to say that the Gentile is a contaminated person, rather that his soul is rooted in a place that is different than a Jewish soul. A Jewish soul is said to be rooted in holiness. The Zohar (the compilation and compendium of mysticism which was transmitted to Moshe at Mt. Sinai with the rest of the Torah) says that the definition of holiness is the avoidance of immorality. The Zohar also says that Hashem, the Torah, and the Jewish people are all one unity [of holiness]. The Torah is rooted in holiness and is the guide through which a person can strengthen his bond to those roots. Thus, through the observance of all of the laws of the Torah, which is the word of Hashem, we place all our behavior, and especially the aspect of sexual relationships under the realm of sanctity. Every Jewish soul is rooted in the Torah because at Mount Sinai, the Jewish Nation as a whole took a solemn oath to accept and abide by the Torah, something which no other nation had done. Thus, every Jewish soul is bound to the holy Torah, which is connected to the root of all holiness. This means that the essence of every Jewish soul is holy, regardless of any sin a particular Jew may have committed, as the verse says, "And your people [each Jew, even the worst sinner] are all righteous." (Isaiah 60:21) This means the inner essence of holiness that each Jew possesses can never be destroyed. However, the Gentiles, who are not obligated to observe the Torah and therefore are not connected to its holy roots, do not come under the realm of holiness. This does not imply that all Gentiles are immoral, but it does imply that they lack the special sanctity with which Hashem has endowed each Jew. Torah teachings state explicitly that every righteous person (Jews and Gentiles) has a place in Heaven and that all Hashem's creations are precious to Him. For reasons that are ultimately known only to Hashem, He has chosen the Jewish nation as His special people. It does not mean that we should treat non-Jews as inferior. Indeed, we must respect all people. It is just that there is a difference in the resonance of our souls and that the Jewish soul resonance is of something called 'holiness' and the non-Jew's is not. Therefore, because Gentiles lack this special sanctity, the spiritual energies with which they resonate can cause a dissonance which creates a blemish in the Jewish soul. Since a Jewish soul's every involvement in this world must be associated with high levels of holiness, we must avoid anything that resonates with "unholiness", including and especially the food we ingest. So in this light, we use the word immoral only in its relationship to holiness. All the above explains why a Jewish sinner is still considered to be holy and a righteous Gentile, although he may be a very good person, is not. This situation can be compared to members of a royal family. Although a particular individual might be a low-life, vile, uncouth and vulgar, if he is a member of the royal family he is still is given the privileges of royalty, whereas a decent person, because he is not a member of the royal family is not afforded such privileges. Rabbi Nachman says that in this world, it is impossible to fully understand this concept. But we must believe that there is a great spiritual gulf between Jews and Gentiles, even though we may not be fully able to recognize this, for there are countless verses in the Bible that emphasize and support this concept. Therefore, as mentioned above, our intent is not to degrade or insult any particular group, but to briefly explain the definition of holiness and its responsibilities and effects. This is a very complex and extensive topic and we are unable to elaborate further, due to considerations of space].


According to Rav Noson, we can now understand why the sages were stringent and required a seal within a seal when fish, meat, wine, and the blue dye used to color the tzitzes (fringes that are attached to four-cornered garments) are sent via a Gentile, without Jewish supervision. These four items each have a certain association with the need to guard against the energies of immorality that are emitted through the eye and thus require extra protection. Kosher meat and fish are from creatures that contained holy souls which had fallen and become trapped within them, mostly due to sins of immorality in their previous incarnation. Therefore, those fallen souls could be negatively effected and lose their opportunity to attain their rectification if the spiritual energies of immorality are cast upon the unsupervised meat or fish which contains them.

 Wine contains very lofty and holy spiritual energies. For wine was poured upon the altar amidst songs and praises to Hashem. In addition, the sages designated a special benediction over wine reflecting its special sanctity and importance. The spiritual energies of wine affect the mind more than any other food. This is why we must be most careful with the type of wine we drink, for the mind is a person's most important faculty--through the mind we come to perceive Hashem. Therefore, we must protect our wine from absorbing the spiritual energies of immorality, which could easily and quickly pollute our minds with its most destructive influences. There is an axiom that the name and numerical value of an item is a reflection of the type of spiritual energies it contains. There is another rule that all items which have the same numerical value have the same spiritual roots. The Hebrew word for wine is yayin, has a numerical value of seventy. The numerical value of the word sohd, secret, is also seventy. This indicates that wine and secrets are somehow connected. By drinking wine of holiness, one can expand one's mind so that one can grasp deep secrets of the Torah, which is said to have seventy faces or levels. Therefore, since kosher wine is so precious an item, it must be protected from the spiritual energies of immorality.

 The turquoise dye used to color four strings of the white colored fringes, one on each of the four corners of all four-cornered garments is derived from the blood of a aquatic creature known as the chilazon. The tzizes (fringes) garment contains spiritual energies that protect its wearer against the spiritual energies of immorality, as the verse says, "It [fringes placed on all four corners of a four cornered garment and the turquoise dye] shall constitute tzitzes for you (the Jews), that you may see it and remember all the commandments of Hashem and perform them; and not explore after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray [This verse says that the tzitzes especially protects against the sin committed with one's eyes, i.e. immorality]." (Numbers 15:39) Before this dye can be used, it must be protected from the spiritual energies of immorality that would taint its protective energies and therefore, it too needs extra protection. So, when any of the above four items are transported by a Gentile, they must have extra protection from the spiritual energies of immorality, which a double sealed container affords. Such a container makes the item as if it never left the supervision of the Jew.


Now we can understand why fish do not require shechita, whereas meat does. Since fish live under the water and are thus concealed from view, they are protected from the gaze of the seventy nations of the world. As mentioned above, kosher animals require shechita in order to remove the negative spiritual energies of immorality they have absorbed. Therefore, the righteous, who by definition are individuals who are very far removed from immoral behavior are compared to fish, who are also very far removed from the spiritual energies of immorality. This is why Yosef (Joseph) was blessed that his offspring should be like fish, as the verse says, "May they [Yosef's offspring] proliferate abundantly like fish within the land." (Genesis 48:16) Yosef is the only Biblical figure to be referred to as "HaTzaddik" (the saintly), because he resisted temptation and refused to have any immoral association with his master's wife. Just as the negative spiritual energies emitted from the eye have no negative effect upon fish in the water, similarly the offspring of Yosef are protected from the evil eye and the spiritual energies of immorality associated with the eye.

 An additional reason fish do not require shechita is that they live in the water. Besides the fact that water acts as a protective shield against the negative spiritual energies of immorality emitted from the eyes of the nations of the world, it also contains the spiritual energies of purity associated with the hereafter and the Messianic era, when morality and the knowledge of Hashem will prevail, as the verse says, "For the earth [in the Messianic age] shall be full of the knowledge of Hashem, as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9)


The power of the evil eye, which can inflict both spiritual and physical harm, is derived from the spiritual energies created by immoral behavior. The stronger one's association with immorality, the stronger the evil eye one produces. Therefore, Bilam (Balaam), the wicked Midianite prophet who attempted to destroy the Jews with his evil powers, had the most dangerous evil eye ever known to man because he was more steeped in licentiousness than any other person who ever existed, as the verse says, "The words of Bilam son of Beor, the words of the man with the open eye [toward immorality, which empowered him with the evil eye]; the words of the one who hears the sayings of Hashem, who sees the vision of G-d, while fallen and with uncovered eyes." (Numbers 24:3, 4)

 The spiritual energies emitted from the eyes of the nations of the world saturates the environment, making it very difficult for the Jews to focus their attention on Hashem. This gives the Gentiles the ability to rule and prevail in this world, for when the Jews are unable to focus on Hashem, they are given over to the control of the nations of the world. However, upon the advent of the Messiah, the powers that enable the Gentiles to dominate the world will be neutralized. The spiritual energies of holiness will shine throughout the world which will enable the holy people to easily adhere to the teachings of the Torah which in turn will elevate them to their rightful position.


Although the slaughter of any animal may seem to be an act of cruelty, when it is done according to Hashem's instructions, we see that it is actually an act of Hashem's kindness.

 The evil eye, which derives it potent negative powers from the spiritual energies of immorality, is responsible for bringing all curses and misfortunes to the world. Before Adam's sin, there was no desire for immorality. Even the animals were devoid of an intense sexual urge. As mentioned above, shechita helps elevate and rectify all those souls which have fallen into the body of an animal due to immorality in a previous incarnation. Before Adam's sin, the world was almost in a state of perfection and there were no sinners, so the animals did not need the rectification of shechita. Thus, at that time, it was strictly forbidden to kill any animal for food. However, Adam's sin blemished the entire universe, causing everything to need rectification. However, Hashem did not introduce the necessary rectifications of eating meat until Noach's (Noah's) time, ten generations after Adam. The reason for this is that the generations from Adam until Noach were not interested in trying to rectify and repair the damage that Adam had perpetrated. In fact they were interested only in finding ways to add to the spiritual damage that Adam had caused, as the verse says, "Hashem saw that the wickedness of man (during the generation of the flood) was great upon the earth, and that every product of the thoughts of his heart was but evil always." (Genesis 5:5) However, since Noach was the first person after Adam that was interested in rectifying the spiritual damage that Adam had caused, as the verse says, "And he [Lamech, prophetically] called his [son's] name Noach saying, 'This one will bring us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands, from the ground which Hashem had cursed [as a result of Adam's sin. This verse indicates that Noach would be unique in that no one else would work as he did toward rectifying the world from Adam's sin]." (Genesis 5:29) Therefore, Noach was the first one permitted to rectify the world through eating meat.


Rav Noson says that the fate of the world is determined by the actions of man who is given free choice to do either good or evil. The ramifications of man's choice to do evil also filters down to the animals as the verse says, "And Hashem saw the earth (during the generation of the flood) and behold it was corrupted, for all flesh [including the animals] had corrupted its way [with immorality] upon the earth." (Genesis 6:12) From the time of Adam until Noach's generation man had sinned to such a degree, that it not only polluted him; but the animals, vegetation, and soil. The entire environment was in such a need of cleansing that Hashem brought a world-wide flood. The Zohar says that the spiritual pollution was so intense that Noach and those animals that were deemed worthy to survive the flood had to be sequestered within the ark. The ark helped Noach and the animals achieve repentance and spiritual cleansing from the surrounding spiritually polluted environment.


Noach's first priority when he left the ark was to rebuild the destroyed world. The first thing that he did was slaughter several kosher animals and offer them on an altar to Hashem. That his very first act after the flood was to offer sacrifices and eat kosher meat indicates that shechita and the eating of kosher meat are a major method for the rectification and spiritual rebuilding of the world from the damage caused to the universe by Adam's sin.


Fish were protected from the spiritual energies of immorality generated by the generation of the flood because they were concealed by the waters. Therefore, the fish didn't need the spiritual cleansing of the ark that the surviving animals and birds required, as the verse says, "And all flesh that moves upon the earth expired [in the flood]--among the birds, the animals, the beasts, and all the creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all mankind. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, of everything that was on dry land died [The verse mentions only the death of land creatures, implying that Hashem spared the fish, because they did not participate in man's sins (Talmud: Zevachim 113b)]." (Genesis 7:21, 22) And thus, there is no need to perform shechita on fish.

 Fish were never effected by the spiritual energies of immorality and thus maintained the energies of moral purity. Moral purity is the very fabric of the Messianic era and the hereafter, therefore fish is associated with those times. The Sabbath and Festivals are also associated with the spiritual energies of the hereafter, and thus it is our custom to eat fish on the Sabbath and Festivals. When fish are removed from water, they quickly expire and since they came from such a morally pure environment it is permitted to eat them without shechita. However, out of the water, they also need extra supervision, as does meat, because they too are then exposed to the spiritual energies of immorality that are so prevalent in this world. (Lekutai Halachot: Yoreh Dayah: Hilchot Basar She'Mis'alem Min Ha'ayin 2:1-7)


From the above discussion, we see that, in this world, things are not as they appear to be on the surface. Although the slaughter of any animal may seem to be an act of cruelty, when it is done according to Hashem's instructions, we see that it is actually an act of Hashem's kindness. In His great love for us, Hashem enables fallen souls to receive atonement, thus enabling those souls to enjoy the eternal pleasures of the hereafter, while at the same time providing nourishment to sustain our lives. [Note: Those who argue that a reason not to eat meat is that the animals are terribly mistreated have a good point. However, it must be made clear that that mistreatment has nothing at all to do with the commandments regarding kashrut. The are other commandments in the Torah as to the proper treatment of animals. Those who are involved in the slaughter of kosher animals may be fulfilling the laws of kashrut, but if the animals are put through any additional pain, then those people are transgressing equally important commandments. May we all merit to keep all of Hashem's laws in the proper way. Amen!]


We mentioned that fish cannot live outside of the water. The following true story draws a moral lesson from this fact: Our Rabbis taught: Once the wicked Government [Rome] issued a decree forbidding the Jews to study and practice the Torah. Pappus ben Yehudah came and found Rebbe Akiva publicly bringing gatherings together and occupying himself with the Torah. He [Pappus] said to him, "Akiva, are you not afraid of the Government? He [Rebbe Akiva] replied, "I will explain to you [why I am defying the Government's evil decree and thus placing myself in jeopardy] with a parable. A fox was once walking alongside of a river, and he saw a large school of fish swarming from one place to another. [The fox] said to [the fish], 'From what are you fleeing?' They replied, 'From the nets cast for us by men.' He said to them, 'Would you like to come up on dry land so that you and I can live together in the way that my ancestors lived with your ancestors?' They replied, 'Aren't you the one that they call the cleverest of animals? You are not clever but foolish. If we are afraid in the element in which we live [the water], how much more in the element in which we would die [on dry land]!' So it is with us," continued Rabbi Akiva. "If such is our condition when we sit and study the Torah, of which it is written, 'For that [the Torah] is your life and the length of your days,' (Deut. 30:20) if we go and neglect it, how much worse off we shall be!" [The fox in this parable represents idolators who are always compared to animals for their bestial activities. The fish represent the Jews, as was mentioned above, Yosef's offspring were blessed that they should prosper like fish. The nets refer to the evil decrees that have always been enacted against the Jews. The "nets of man" refer to Rome, who were the descendants of the wicked Esau, the brother of the righteous Ya'akov. For the word for man, b'nei ADaM, shares the same root as the name ADoM (Edom), the label given to Esau, Rome. The water represents the Torah, which contains the spiritual energies of water, as the verse says, "Ho, every one that is thirsty, come to the waters." (Isaiah 55:1) When the fox asked that the fish live together with him on dry land as their ancestors had done represents the incident where the Roman Emperor had previously asked Rebbe Akiva's teacher, Rebbe Yehoshua ben Chanania, that the Jews, the descendants of Ya'akov should become reunited with Rome, the descendants of Ya'akov's brother Esau, and they should both be as one people again. This would have required that the Jews abandon the Torah. The fish responded and said, "We know from experience that if we leave the waters of the Torah, we will certainly die," for this had already happened in the past. The first Temple was destroyed because the Jews neglected the Torah, as the verse says, "Why is the land [of Israel] ruined [and] withered like a wilderness...? And Hashem said, '[it is] because they (the Jews) have forsaken My Torah..." (Jeremiah 9:11, 12) (MaHarsha)] It is related that soon afterwards Rebbe Akiva was arrested and thrown into prison, and Pappus ben Yehudah was also arrested and imprisoned next to him. [Rebbe Akiva] said to him, "Pappus, who brought you here? [Pappus] replied, "Happy are you, Rebbe Akiva, that you have been seized for busying yourself with the Torah! Alas for Pappus who has been seized for busying himself with idle things!" When Rebbe Akiva [who was 120 years old] was taken out for execution, it was the hour for the recital of the Shema [the Biblical requirement to utter the verse "Hear, O Israel: Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is the One and Only" (Deut. 6:4), where one proclaims the Oneness and unity of Hashem, which is required to be recited once in the morning and once in the evening]. While [the Roman executioners] combed his flesh with iron combs, he was accepting upon himself the kingship of heaven [through the recital of the Shema (Rashi)]. His disciples said to him, "Our teacher, [even] until this point?" [Before Rebbe Akiva began to recite the Shema, he prayed that his soul should depart with the word echad, 'one', so he could fulfill the commandment of martyrdom in the most perfect way. His students heard his prayer and they realized that if Rebbe Akiva would depart at that point, he would thus be shortening his life and would diminish his reward in the hereafter, for the more pain one experiences in the performance of a commandment the more reward. They felt that it would be better that Rebbe Akiva increase his reward. So in effect they asked, "You are only going to go until this point and not extend your life beyond the word echad, which is only the first phrase of the Shema and not endure further suffering in order to increase your reward?" (Anaf Yosef)] [Rebbe Akiva] said to [his students], "All my days I have been troubled by the verse, 'You must love Hashem Your G-d with all...your soul,' [which I interpret,] 'even if He (Hashem) takes your soul.'. I said, 'When shall I have the opportunity of fulfilling this [commandment]? [Therefore, I want to fulfill it in the most perfect way possible, which requires that I should expire sooner with the word echad and I am therefore willing to forego the extra reward that prolonged suffering would bring. (Anaf Yosef)] Now that I have the opportunity [to fulfill the commandment in the most perfect way] shall I not fulfill it?" He [Rebbe Akiva] prolonged the word echad until he expired while saying it. A heavenly voice went forth and proclaimed, "Happy are you, Akiva, that your soul has departed with the word echad [and you have thus fulfilled the acceptance of Hashem's authority upon yourself in the most perfect way possible! (MaHarsha)] The ministering angels said before the Hashem, "This is the Torah, and this is its reward?" "[In the merit of his Torah study (Rashi) Rebbe Akiva should have been] from they who die by Your hand, O Hashem!" (Psalms 17:14) [Hashem] replied to [the ministering angels], "The portion [of the hereafter of those evil men who executed him has been forfeited to Rebbe Akiva and therefore it was better for him to executed by them so he will inherit their portion which] is in [true] life [the hereafter." (MaHarsha)] (Psalms 17:14) A heavenly voice went forth and proclaimed, "Happy are you Rebbe Akiva, you are destined for the life of the world to come!" (Talmud: Berachot 61b)

HITHBODEDUTH (secluding oneself)

Rabbi Nachman taught that as well as reciting the mandatory daily prayers contained in the prayer book, we should also speak to Hashem, just as we would confide in our best friend: in seclusion, in the language and style with which we feel most comfortable. This is based on the advice of our sages, just to mention two sources: "Rebbe Yitzchak said: 'Why were our forefathers barren? Because Hashem desires the prayers of the righteous."' (Talmud: Yevamoth 64a) "Hashem seeks nothing other than to hear the prayers of Israel." (Medrash Tehillim 116:1) The following is an example of such a session: Help me with Your great compassion to overthrow, subdue, and break all bad desires and negative characteristics that are accessed from the seventy nations [of the world]. For all base traits originate from their spiritual source not from ours. In particular [eliminate] the burning torch of the desire for immorality, which tries to overwhelm us always. Help us to overthrow, subdue, and break this ravaging flame from our midst and from [all] our environs, because You, with Your great mercy, have chosen us from all the nations and have elevated us from all the languages [and it is not befitting the members of the holy people to be ensnared by the blight of immorality]. You have given us, as our portion, the holy tongue [Hebrew, which is associated with the spiritual energies of moral purity] through which You created the world. You have given us Your holy Torah through Moshe, Your prophet, in the holy language and You have transmitted Your word as a composite through all the trustworthy and holy prophets in the holy language, which incorporates the beauty and joy of the holy land. (1 Lekutai Tefilos 19)


Based on the advice of our sages (Talmud: Megilah 28b), Rabbi Nachman stressed that everyone should study at least one law from the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) [or its equivalent, other books which are based on the Shulchan Aruch] everyday without fail. (Sichoth HaRan 29) The signs of kosher fish, as defined in the Torah, are fins and scales. Fins [refer to] those that [the fish] uses to swim. Scales [are] those that are attached to [the fish]. (Maran) [Scales also means] that they can be easily peeled off [the fish] by hand or with an implement. However, if it is impossible to peel the scales from the skin of the fish, it is not considered to be scales [that would identify the fish as kosher]. (Rama) (Shulchan Aruch: Yorah Dayah 83:1)

 Volume 4, Issue 26