I would like to open a forum here for a discussion on the concept of “glatt” kosher meat. A common misconception is that the term glatt refers to a higher standard. In fact, “glatt” means “smooth” in Yiddish, and refers to the absence of adhesions on an animal’s lungs. If there are no adhesions the meat is glatt kosher. If there are, the meat is still perfectly kosher ( at least for Ashkenazim), it is just not glatt.

For the past few decades the Orthodox community has seemingly taken upon itself the chumra , or stringency, of eating only glatt kosher meat. This has resulted in higher prices for glatt kosher meat and the apparent disappearance of all other kosher but not glatt meat. It is almost impossible today to purchase red meat that is not glatt, from butchers, restaurants, or markets.

This brings up several important issues. From just about all sources it appears that only about 1 in 20 animals slaughtered actually are glatt. That is 5 percent. This means that it is virtually impossible for all but a small percentage of meat that is sold as glatt to actually be glatt. It’s been said that there are not enough glatt kosher cows slaughtered in the entire world to account for the meat sold as glatt in Brooklyn alone.

So, question #1: How do we account for the vast amount of meat that is marketed as glatt but obviously cannot be glatt?

Question #2: What happens to 95 percent of the meat that is not glatt but nevertheless is kosher? Since it is all but impossible to purchase this meat, and it is unlikely that it is discarded or sold as treif, or unkosher, it seems to have just disappeared.

Question #3: Why has the Orthodox community taken this stringency upon itself, since it has resulted in higher prices, divisiveness, and apparent mischief, if not outright fraud? If someone eats only glatt kosher rather than ordinary kosher, does God give that person some kind of extra credit? Does it cause some higher level of kedusha (holiness) or a better spirituality or a better result in the afterlife? Does it make you a better person or a better Jew?

Is it worth the communal problems that have resulted, including not being able to eat in the home of someone who doesn’t eat only glatt, or the higher prices foisted upon the community, causing some to give up keeping kosher, or the mysterious goings-on in the kosher meat business?

I would love somehow to be able to purchase plain ol’ kosher meat and to serve it to my fellow Orthodox compatriots, and to see a rational, unemotional discussion of these issues.