Is Swordfish Kosher

Is Swordfish Kosher

The kosher status of swordfish has long been debated among Jewish authorities. Here is an overview of the history and issues surrounding swordfish’s controversial place in kosher dietary laws.

See also: Is Mahi Mahi Kosher?

Table of Contents

Swordfish was considered kosher and eaten regularly by Jewish communities for centuries. However, in the 1950s, some Orthodox rabbis began to prohibit swordfish based on an interpretation of kosher rules requiring fish to have scales. The initial ban on swordfish by prominent American Orthodox rabbis was rejected by Conservative authorities and many European Orthodox rabbis. The debate continues today with reasonable rabbi opinions on both sides.

Key Positions in the Swordfish Controversy

GroupView on SwordfishRationale
Orthodox (some)Not kosherLack of noticeable scales on adult fish
Orthodox (some)KosherHistoric tradition, tiny scales present
ConservativeKosherMesorah (chain of tradition)
ReformDebatableVaries by individual choice
  • The central issue is a Torah requirement that fish must have fins and scales to be considered kosher.
  • Swordfish has clearly visible, easy-to-remove scales as juveniles.

However, as the fish matures, the scale structure changes so that only the tips of the scales are visible on adults.

  • In the 1950s, American Orthodox Rabbi Moshe Tendler contended that the lack of visible exterior scales on adult swordfish means it should be considered not kosher.
  • This ruling shocked many Orthodox rabbis in Europe and the Mediterranean, where eating swordfish had never been controversial.

Conservative Jewish authorities permit swordfish based on the concept of “mesorah” – an unbroken chain of tradition within a Jewish community. There is extensive historical evidence of swordfish being treated as kosher over centuries. Reform authorities generally consider it a matter of individual choice.

Today, the kosher status of swordfish remains complex. While some Orthodox rabbis prohibit it, many also allow it based on the longstanding tradition. Conservative rabbis permit swordfish according to mesorah. Most observant Jews, if concerned, simply opt to eat other clearly kosher fish.


  • Swordfish was considered kosher for centuries until modern re-evaluation.
  • Orthodox authorities divided based on interpretation of what constitutes scales.
  • Conservative movement permits it based on mesorah (chain of tradition).
  • Issue remains controversial but with strong cases on both sides.

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Steve Momot

Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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