Secondary Sources: Animals and People: Killing Animals and Killing People – MS, HS, A

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Secondary Sources: Animals and People – Killing Animals and Killing People

Bereshit Chapter 9:1-7- בְּרֵאשִׁית

You are permitted to use the animals and employ them for work, rule over them in order to utilize their services for your survival, but you must not hold their life cheap or kill them for food. Your natural diet is vegetarian… Apparently the Torah was in principle opposed to the eating of meat. When Noah and his descendants were permitted to eat meat this was a concession conditional on the law against eating blood. This law implied respect for the principle of life (“for the blood is the life”) and hints that in reality all meat should have been prohibited. This restriction was designed to call to mind the previous total one.
Cassuto: From Adam to Noah, on Genesis 1:27
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Umberto Cassuto was also known as Moshe David Cassuto (1883–1951).
He was a rabbi and Biblical scholar born in Florence, Italy.


Since the land had become filled with violence and man had allowed himself to do terrible things, man was no longer required to go without killing animals for food. It was far more important that he should control himself and hold back from killing other human beings, and respect the life of his neighbor.

Nehama Leibowitz on Rav Kook, Professor Nehama Leibowitz was a famous Israeli Bible scholar who developed a particular style of Bible study that was very popular around the world.
Image source:


I permitted you to shed the blood of every living except your own blood which I did not permit since you are human. I shall require it …. This is a general rule. Subsequently the text explains its detailed application. “By the hand of man” – if many slay a single person or one individual another, I shall seek out the blood. I shall also seek it out from any beast, by commanding another to slay it. For animals are permitted to you but not you to them.

Abraham Ibn Ezra. Born in 1089 in Spain. He was a poet,
astrologist, scientist, and an expert in Hebrew grammar.
Image source:

Noach-9.1.7-Eating-Meat-SS-Eating-Meat-MS-HS-A-Image7Permission was not given to man to destroy even the most inferior of his kind, until the Divine command to Noah. A special command of God was even required to allow Adam and Eve to make use of the plants which are lesser than the animals, as it is stated: (1:29): “behold I have given you all the herbs of the field.” Similarly, God commanded the shedding of a man’s blood, if his sin warranted it…. as in the Law of Moses, …. For man is the highest of God’s creatures, created in His image and enjoying the gift of intelligence. Other creatures must therefore fear him and one man must not destroy the other, since by doing so man destroys the highest work of God, made in His image, and he goes and destroys it.

“Radak” is short for” Rabbi David Kimchi” He was born in southern France in the year 1160. He came from a family of famous scholars, which gave rise the famous saying; Where there is no ‘kemach’ (flour) there is no bread”.

Noach-9.1.7-Eating-Meat-SS-Eating-Meat-MS-HS-A-Image8October 7, 2010, 10:05am

Parshat Noah: Pondering the Eating of Meat

By Rachel Kahn-Troster

In this week’s parsha, as Noah stands outside the ark surveying a post-deluge world, God blesses him and gives him new dietary parameters: “Every creature that lives shall be yours to eat; as with the green grasses, I give you all these.” (Genesis 9:3) This divine permission to eat meat is a big departure from the instructions given generations earlier to Adam and Eve, who were only allowed to eat a vegetarian diet.

No explanation is given in the torah for this change, which is bundled together with other injunctions against eating the blood of animals and against murder. But the rabbis argue that the permission to eat meat is an attempt to put boundaries on something people were doing prior to the flood, killing animals wantonly and without regard to the fact that to eat an animal was to take a life. God was setting up checks and balances to explicitly prevent this cruelty.

But “This concession to human weakness is not a license for savagery,” argues scholar Nahum Sarna. Meat cannot be eaten without recognition of its origins in life; God’s permission can be seen as the original injunction to eat mindfully.

…have we fulfilled our obligation to God by eating humanely raised meat, or should we be aiming for Edenic ideal of not eating meat at all?

Can eating meat ever be a holy act? I posed this dilemma to Naftali Hanau, owner of Grow and Behold, an ethical kosher meat company. Hanau, a former vegetarian (because of the historical lack of humanely raised kosher meat), argues that questions of sustainable eating must go beyond whether or not one should eat meat.

There are many overlooked trade-offs in the food system. “How is it any better to eat conventional tofu, made from genetically modified soy and grown on a field covered in petrochemical fertilizer? Conventional food does not get a free pass on environmental sustainability just because something is a vegetable.” He pointed out that Amish farmers who raise his chickens – moving the coops by hand and restoring the soil – leave a smaller environmental impact than conventional vegetable farming.

One question I posed to Hanau was whether having greater access to sustainable meat meant he ate more of it, as I have found to be true in my house. He said that it had not, but that it was still an ongoing conversation in his family about how much meat to eat. Purchasing sustainable meat is not a license to eat it mindlessly, he says. All forms of eating can be savagery. All of them can be holy. This was the challenge to Noah and to us.

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is director of education and outreach for Rabbis for Human Rights-North America.

Read more:

New York Times Oct 7th, 2010.

The Ethicist Contest Winner: Give Thanks for Meat


A few weeks ago, we invited readers to make an argument for the ethics of eating meat. Thousands of readers submitted essays, and thousands more voted on the finalists that we posted online. Our panel of judges — Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer, Andrew Light, Michael Pollan and Peter Singer — chose the essay below by Jay Bost as the winner.

As a vegetarian who returned to meat-eating, I find the question “Is meat-eating ethical?” one that is in my head and heart constantly. The reasons I became a vegetarian, then a vegan and then again a conscientious meat-eater were all ethical. The ethical reasons of why NOT to eat meat are obvious: animals are raised and killed in cruel conditions; grain that could feed hungry people is fed to animals; the need for pasture fuels deforestation; and by eating meat, one is implicated in the killing of a sentient [conscious] being. Except for the last reason, however, none of these aspects of eating meat are necessary, yet they are exactly what make eating some meat unethical. Which leads to my main argument: eating meat raised in specific circumstances is ethical; eating meat raised in other circumstances is unethical. Just as eating vegetables, tofu or grain raised in certain circumstances is ethical and those produced in other ways is unethical.

What are these “right” and “wrong” ways of producing both meat and plant foods? For me, they are summed up well in Aldo Leopold’s land ethic: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the ecological community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

While most present-day meat production is an ecologically foolish and ethically wrong endeavor, happily

this is changing, and there are abundant examples of ecologically beneficial, pasture-based systems. The fact is that most farmers interested in ecology agree that animals are integral parts of truly sustainable agricultural systems. They are able to cycle nutrients, aid in land management and convert sun to food in ways that are nearly impossible for us to do without fossil fuel. If “ethical” is defined as living in the most ecologically sound way, then in fairly specific circumstances, of which each eater must educate himself, eating meat is ethical; in fact NOT eating meat may be arguably unethical.

The issue of killing of a conscious being, however, lingers….

For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death is part of the chain of life on this planet … Second, you combine this realization   with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks.

[language slightly adapted]

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