Leading Idea: Eating animals.
This text parallels strongly elements of God’s blessing in Bereshit 1:28-29. Yet there is a striking difference. In the account of creation in Bereshit, God blesses us as have dominion over all of creation, but only the plant kingdom is given to us to eat for food. In this blessing, God not only gives us plants, but also the animal kingdom as food. In this, it marks a human transition from being herbivores to carnivores. Yet there are distinctions and limits here as well – we can eat flesh, but not blood, and we will be held accountable for killing another human being. What does this transition signify? What might it say about our relationship to creation and our nature as human beings? To what extent are we what we eat? Does eating flesh make us more violent or is it a release that leads us to be less violent? If we start thinking that it is acceptable to kill animals will we end up thinking it is acceptable to kill people? Both the Jewish textual tradition and philosophical discourse are animated around these questions, offering us multiple responses to that can inform our inquiry.
A related issue to that of eating meat concerns our relationship with animals overall. What does Judaism say about our treatment of animals; how we should relate to them and care for them? The source materials relate to this question of our care for animals.