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Literally, the remnant or the saving remnant. This concept dates back to biblical times, and refers to that part of the Jewish people left after a major calamity. The prophets often predict that a small portion of Jews will come back from exile and reestablish itself in its land. This, indeed, happened more than once in Jewish history. First, after the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C.E., and more recently in our time with the birth of the State of Israel.

The slaughter of ritually pure animals according to Jewish law. The laws which govern slaughtering grew out of a verse in the Bible (Deut. 12:21), and are contained in the tractate Hullin of the Talmud. The shohet (slaughterer) is required to follow a special course of study dealing with these laws, and is permitted to practice his profession only upon receiving a certificate known as a kabbalah. The shohet employs a special knife called hallaf, which must be applied to a specific spot on the animal’s neck. Before slaughtering, the shohet must examine his blade for flaws. To avoid causing the animal unnecessary pain, the shohet must follow strictly the rules for slaughtering; if he fails, the animal is ruled a nevelah (carcass), forbidden as food. After the slaughter, the shohet must subject the animal’s inner organs, particularly the lungs, to a minute examination. The discovery of the slightest sign of disease is sufficient cause to forbid the consumption of the animal. The shehitah laws were intended to safeguard the health of the individual, and to avoid pain to the animal as much as possible.

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