As required by the bible [Leviticus 11], the water buffalo has split hooves and chews its cud.
Also, Amar knew, with Amar’s and Zivotofsky’s help, that Rome’s Jewish community had an ancient tradition of buffalo eating [water buffalo milk is used to make the finest Mozzarella cheese]. He was also made aware that veteran Israeli shochets slaughtered water buffaloes here for popular consumption as late as the 1940’s. But koshering the buffalo was not so simple. The souls of millions of Jews might suffer if the chief rabbi erred. Amar was cautious – and strict.
Amar wanted to know whether water buffaloes have upper front teeth. The Talmud says animals with them may not chew their cud.…
But six months ago another piece in the water buffalo’s kosher puzzle was solved. While touring the Hula Valley, Israel’s largest grazing range for wild buffalo, Amar was presented with a water buffalo skull that lacked the incriminating teeth. This last piece of evidence seemed to clinch the decision to kosher the buffalo. But Amar wanted to cover all his bases.
The chief rabbi felt the skeleton was not good enough. He wanted a freshly slaughtered head, not a skeleton.
On Tuesday, three water buffalo heads were delivered to Amar’s office in the Chief Rabbinate. The buffalo was declared kosher.
So, let’s see. Jews in Israel ate water buffalo until they became scarce in the late 1940s. Italian Jews have been eating water buffalo cheese for thousands of years. So there is a well-established mesorah (tradition). The animal meets all kosher requirements. Yet it took years and intense lobbying to get our haredi chief rabbis to deem the water buffalo kosher. Pathetic.