Shemini 5764 – Gilayon #338
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SPEAK TO THE ISRAELITE PEOPLE THUS: THESE
ARE THE CREATURES THAT YOU MAY EAT FROM AMONG ALL THE LAND ANIMALS.
The Laws of Slaughter and the Restrictions on Eating Meat are Stages Towards a
These are the creatures that
you may eat: It begins by
permitting certain types of meat, (and so with grasshoppers and fish), implying
that it would be best not to eat any living thing at all. That is why it had to
begin: Speak to the Israelite people thus: these are the creatures that you
may eat – the permissibility of meat-eating is a new idea that must be explicitly
(From the Hatam Sofer's Torat Moshe, as
quoted by Prof. Nehamah Leibowitz in her Iyyunim Hadashim BeSefer Vayikra,
A Torah scholar – a spiritual
man – regularly engaged in the slaughter and sacrifice of animals? This does
not jibe with the heart's pure feelings. Even though it remains necessary to
practice the slaughter and consumption of living beings, in any event it is
proper for this work to be performed by those who have not yet refined their
emotions. It is fitting for ethical, knowledgeable, and pious scholars to
supervise and see to it that the animals are not killed in a barbaric manner,
so that a noble light may enter into the whole matter
of meat-eating, a light which will, in time, illuminate the entire world. This
is truly bound up in the laws of slaughter.
(From R. A.I. Kook ZTz"L's Iggrot HaRAYaH,
The Commandments Were Given Only in Order to Purify
way, the book of Bereishit may be read as heralding things to come in the later
parts of the Torah. This interpretive principle, that "The deeds of the
fathers are a sign for the sons," is usually applied to the narrative
portions of the Torah, rather than to halakhic passages.
Bereishit contains few commandments, and the "halakhic"
materials of Bereishit receive scant attention from the Sages. That being said,
even a literal reading of the opening two chapters of Bereishit reveals that
they do contain a number of commandments.
first commandment is: Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth…().
second commandment received by Adam in the Garden of Eden is as for the tree
of knowledge of good and evil, you must not eat of it (2: 17).
This prohibition is prefaced with a positive commandment: You shall eat of every
tree in the garden (loc cit).
Sages learned the Seven Noahide Commandments from the phrase, and the Lord
God commanded (2:16), but do not treat You shall eat of every
tree in the garden as a commandment, but rather as a grant of permission to
eat fruits. It may be inferred – without entering into the details of he
Talmudic discussion – that Adam was given laws that related to his biological
existence as a living organism. Biological life, with all of its facets and
components, stands at the center of the commandments, be
they the commandments received by Adam or the commandments received by
precisely those aspects of human life that resemble animal life.
a doubt, of the commandments received by Adam, the prohibition to eat of the
fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil had the greatest impact on his
future. It is perhaps significant that Adam, the "vegetarian," had
only one prohibition imposed upon him. It was not a matter of happenstance that
that prohibition dealt with eating, a legal area of ever-widening scope to which
additional commandments would be added via Noah and the Israelites.
suggest that we chronicle the laws of forbidden foods, starting with the laws
received by Adam:
Not to eat from the tree of knowledge
Not to eat meat severed from a living animal.
Not to eat gid hanasheh (a particular sinew)
Not to eat the fat specified for sacrifice on the altar.
c) Not to eat unclean creatures, be they birds, domesticated animals,
wild beasts, fish, or crawling creatures.
cover the blood of slaughtered birds and wild beasts.
Not to eat an animal's flesh before it is brought as a sacrifice upon the
should be noted that the final prohibition (e) was cancelled by the "permission
to eat desired meat" granted because the prohibition made the regular
eating of meat a practical impossibility. Out of consideration for the reality
that Jews might live some distance from "the place" of sacrifice, the
halakhah limited itself to the laws requiring that the slaughtered animal's
blood be poured on the ground and not eaten.
so we find that the Torah is quite concerned with the proper nutrition of people
in general of the Jews in particular.
and large, these prohibitions tie the consumption of meat with sacrifice. The
Sages were serious when they stated that "a person's table is like an
altar which atones." One might say that, in a way, the laws of kashrut serve
as a substitute for the laws of sacrifice.
not my intention to belittle the importance of the laws of kashrut.
However, the growing concern with this aspect of Judaism, which has come to
monopolize Jewish life, (sometimes out of commercial interests), can serve to marginalize other fundamental Jewish values,
such as commandments pertaining to societal concerns. Narrow-minded
concentration on kashrut can damage the deepest spiritual strata of religious
Jewish life can only be possible when we realize that all categories of
commandments must receive their proper attention. Only then will every stratum
of Jewish values make its own contribution to the development of a balanced and
harmonious life for Jews.
Rabbi Dr. Shalom Bahbout
sits on the Rabbinical Court of Rome, and directs the Tifferet Yisrael Beit
Forbidden Foods: Feelings, Reasons and Commandments
ben Azaryah says: From whence do we know that a
person should not say, "I could not possibly wear sha'atnez,
I could not possibly eat pork, I could not possibly indulge in forbidden sexual
relations" – but rather [one should say] – "I could but what can I
do? My Father in Heaven has forbidden them to me." This is learned from
the verse and I have set you apart from the other peoples to be Mine (VaYikra ). One takes upon himself the yoke of he
(Sifra Kedoshim 10)
Philosophers maintain that
though the man of self-restraint performs moral and praiseworthy deeds, yet he
does them desiring and craving all the while for immoral deeds, but, subdues
his passions… The saintly man, however, is guided in his actions by that to
which his inclination and disposition prompt him, in consequence of which he
acts morally from innate longing and desire. Philosophers unanimously agree
that the latter is superior to, and more perfect than, the one who has to curb
When, however, we consult the
Rabbis on this subject, it would seem that they consider him who desires
iniquity and craves for it (but does not do it), more praiseworthy and perfect
than the one who feels no torment at refraining from evil; and they even go so
far as to maintain that the more praiseworthy and perfect a man is, the greater
is his desire to commit iniquity and the more irritation does he feel at having
to desist from it. This they express by saying, "Whosoever is greater than
his neighbor has likewise greater evil inclinations" (Sukkah 52a)… Furthermore, they command that man should
conquer his desires, but they forbid one to say, "I, by my nature, do not
desire to commit such and such a transgression, even though the Law does not forbid
it." Rabbi Simeon ben Gamliel summed up this
thought in the words, "Man should not say, 'I do not want to eat meat
together with milk…' but he should say, 'I do indeed want to, yet I must not,
for my Father in heaven has forbidden it.'"
At first blush, by a superficial
comparison of the sayings of the philosophers and the rabbis, one might be
inclined to say that they contradict one another. Such, however is not the
case. Both are correct and, moreover, are not ion disagreement in the least, as
the evils which the philosophers term such – and of which they say that he who
has no longing for them is more to be praised than he who desires them but
conquers his passion – are things which all people commonly agree are evils,
such as the shedding of blood, theft, robbery, fraud, injury to one who has
done no harm, ingratitude, contempt for parents, and the like. The
prescriptions against these are called commandments, about which the rabbis
said, "If they had not already been written in the Law, it would be proper
to add them" (Yoma
67b). Some of our later sages,
who were infected with the unsound principles of the Mutakallimun, called these
rational laws. There is no doubt that a soul which has the desire for and lusts
after the above-mentioned misdeeds, is imperfect; that a noble soul has
absolutely no desire for any such crimes and experiences no struggle in
refraining from them. When, however, the rabbis maintain that he who overcomes
his desire has more merit than and a greater reward (than he who has no
temptation), they say so only in reference to laws that are ceremonial prohibitions.
This is quite true, since, were it not for the Law, they would not be
considered transgressions. Therefore, the rabbis say, that man should permit
his soul to entertain the natural inclination for these things, but that the
Law alone should restrain him from them.
(RaMBaM Shemonah Perakim
7, pp. 376-78 in Isadore Twersky's A Maimonides Reader)
A Strange Fire
This is one of the points in
which Judaism and Paganism go in diametrically opposite directions. The Pagan
brings his offering in an attempt to to make the god subservient to his wishes.
The Jew, with his offering, wishes to place himself in the service of God; by
his offering he wishes to make himself subservient to the wishes of God. So
that all offerings are formulae of the demands of God, which the bringer, by
his offering, undertakes to make the normal routine for his future life. So
that self-devised offerings would be a killing of just those truths which our
offerings are meant to impress and dominate the bringers, would be placing a pedestal
on which to glorify one's own ideas, where a throne was meant to be built for
obedience, and obedience only.
(Rabbi S.R. Hisch's commentary on VaYikra 10:2, Isaav Levy translation)
Was the Holocaust a Preface and Condition for Redemption and
In the past, grave things were
said in connection with the Holocaust: There were those who claimed that the
Holocaust was a preparation, a kind of price that the Jewish People had to pay
in exchange for the creation of the State of Israel. There were those who
clamed that the State of Israel serves as a kind of compensation for the
Holocaust. They also claimed that this was the only way to cause the Jews, or
rather to force them, to emigrate to the
difficult to hear.
Yehudah Amital's "Af al Pi shemeitzar umeimar li",
quoted in M. Miyah's Olam
Banuy, Hareiv, Uvanuy, pg. 64)
There is no accomplishment or
blessing in this world that can compensate for the burning of those sinless
multitudes of people. All of these words about the creation of the State in the
wake of the Holocaust – they are hollow words. Neither the actual State of
Israel, which occasionally must bleed to survive, nor the ideal State of Israel
described in the prophecy of each man beneath his vine and beneath his
fig-tree can begin to justify what the Jewish People went through during
the years of the Holocaust.
Amital's lecture on the Yom Kaddish HaKlali – Ot Ve'Eid, Perek Iyyun Ve'Meida,
quoted in Miyah op cit pg. 64)
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