Volume 16 Number 17
                       Produced: Fri Oct 28  8:28:12 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Judaism and Vegetarianism responses
         [Richard schwartz]
Meat production/animal cruelty analogous to tangerines/grafting
         [Arthur Roth]
         [Zvi Weiss]
Vegetarianism Continued
         [Doni Zivotofsky]


From: Richard schwartz <RHSSI@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 94 10:29:57 EDT
Subject: Judaism and Vegetarianism responses

     I would like to respectfully reply to some of the recent responses
to my Judaism and vegetarianism postings.  First, with regard to the Vol
15, #91 postings:
     In response to Harry Weiss, I am not trying to convert
vegetarianism to "almost a religion".  I and most other active Jewish
vegetarians are trying to challenge other Jews to put into practice
Judaism's wonderful values related to taking care of our health, showing
compassion to animals, preserving the environment, conserving resources,
and sharing with hungry people.  The Torah must have mastery over every
age, and we believe that this strongly suggests vegetarianism today,
when the world faces so many crises that can be linked to livestock
agriculture and animal-based diets.
     Also, do you really want to compare the treatment of household pets
to the brutal treatment that many animals suffer from on factory farms?
     In response to Doni Zwitofsky, conditions for animals today are
tremendously different from those in the time of the Avos (patriarchs)
With regard to farmers treating animals well so that they will produce
more, the bottom line today seems to be profit, and if more profit can
be made by cramming more animals into confined spaces and mistreating
them in many other ways, this is what is happening on factory farms.
     In response to David Charlop, as "rachamim b'nei rachamim"
(compassionate children of compassionate ancestors), can we ignore the
horrible treatment of farm animals, because the factory farms are run by
non-Jews?  Can we be sure that Jews are not involved in any stage of the
process.  Also, what about the horrendous treatment of ducks and geese
to make pate de fois gras, a major industry in Israel?
  In response to Dr.Jeremy Schiff, since the destruction of the Temple,
we are no longer required to eat meat in order to rejoice in our
festivals.  In this regard, please note that several former and present
chief rabbis (including Rabbi Shlomo Goren and Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen
(of Haifa) are strict vegetarians, and recent scholarly articles by
non-vegetarians Rabbi J. David Bleich (in Tradition) and Rabbi Alfred
Cohen (Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society) state that Jews need
not eat meat today.
     In response to Jeremy Nussbaum, thanks for your positive responses
to Zvi Weiss's posting on Judaism and Vegetarianism.
     Next, some replys to responses in the Vol 15, #81 issue:
     In response to Zvi Weiss, let me say that I am sorry if I offended
you or anyone else.  This is certainly not my intention, and if I ever
go too far in trying to start a respectful dialogue on what I consider
an essential issue for Judaism and the world, I sincerely appologize.
     I am NOT "campaigning to forbid something that Hashem has
explicitly permitted". I only want people to be aware of what appears to
be major inconsistencies between basic Jewish teachings and the
realities of livestock agriculture.  I do hope that when committed,
compassionate Torah Jews are aware of the facts, that they will shift
toward vegetarian diets.
     With regard to G-d permitting us to eat something that is harmful,
please recall that (1) G-d's first dietary law was strictly vegetarian
(Genesis 1:29); (2) our body structure, teeth, etc. are much closer to
other vegetarian animals than it is to carniverous animals; many sages
regarded the permission to eat meat as a concession to human weakness
and/or uncontrolled lust; (4) As Rav Kook indicated, perhaps the many
restrictions related to the consumption of meat were intended as an
implied reprimand, designed to keep alive our reverence for life, and to
bring people back to G-d's original diet.
    With regard to your disdain for Nathan Pritikin, certainly he is not
a Torah scholar, butas Pirke Avot teaches us, "Who is wise? The person
that learns from every other person". At a time when about 1700
scientists, including 104 Nobel laureates have issued a "Warning to
Humanity", stating that we must change our ways in order to avoid major
environmental threats, can we so easily shrug off the views of
non-Jewish experts?
     In response to Doni Zwitofsky again, you wonder if it is the eating
of meat rather than possibly other factors that are the cause of current
health problems.  Please consider that there is abundant evidence, some
of which I previously cited on this; but, what if it were only one
factor - wouldn't this still be a consideration since the preservation
of health and life is so important in Judaism?  On your point that our
animal-based diets are not important with regard to current global
threats, there are many books, including Beyond Beef, by Jeremy Rifkind,
and Diet for a New America, by John Robbins, which abundantly document
the many negative effects of meat-centered diets.
      In view of the importance of the issues, I hope that the Jewish
community will find a way to do a complete analysis of all aspects of
our diets.
     To help in this regard, I will gladly send a complimentary copy of
my book, "Judaism and vegetarianism", a book that has been endorced by
Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa to the first 20 people
who will e-mail me and indicate how they will use the book.
        Richard Schwartz, Ph. D.  (<rhssi@...>
       Author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, and
Mathematics and Global Survival.


From: <rotha@...> (Arthur Roth)
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 22:07:23 -0500
Subject: Meat production/animal cruelty analogous to tangerines/grafting

    Several posters have offered various refutations to Richard
Schwartz' claim that halacha requires us to be vegetarians because of
cruelty to animals in meat production factories.  One such refutation
(don't remember whose, sorry) pointed out that avoiding cruelty to
animals is required only of Jews, so that we would be permitted to eat
from non-Jewish-owned meat "factories" that engaged in these practices.
    It seems to me that this case is analogous to the question of
tangerines, which are produced by grafting, a practice that Jews may not
engage in.  The tangerines are nevertheless OK to eat.  Since they don't
even need hashgacha, one of the following (don't know which one, maybe
someone can tell me) must be true:
  (i) It is OK to eat them even if grown by a Jew, or
  (ii) We may assume that they were not grown by a Jew since the
majority of growers are non-Jewish.
    By analogy, it should be OK to eat meat without worrying about
whether the "factory" owner was Jewish using whichever of the above two
arguments is applicable.  If (ii) is correct, then we would have a
problem with either meat or tangerines only if we knew with certainty
that the producer was Jewish.  If (i) is correct, even this case would
not be a problem.  Thus, the refutation of Richard Schwartz has even
MORE force behind it than expressed by the original poster.  I echo that
poster's sentiments that such attempts at a logical analysis of the case
at hand do not in any way condone cruelty to animals; indeed, I
personally find such practices (even by non-Jews, who have no halachic
prohibition against it) abhorrent.
    Note that neither the original poster nor I have challenged, for
this purpose, the notion that the usual practices in meat production are
considered cruelty to animals according to halacha.  I personally don't
know enough about meat production to have an opinion on this specific
point, but other posters have challenged it on various grounds.
    Sorry, Richard, but I'll continue to enjoy my meat!


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 22:20:00 -0400
Subject: Vegerarianism

1. I do not know of ANYTHING overtly harmful that G-d has permitted us.
   Jeremy Nussbaum provides no examples to support this thesis.
   Furthermore, there ARE halachot that urge us to take [physical] care
   of ourselves.  Given the fact that the Torah permits/mandates meat
   EVEN as it urges us to be careful seems a clear enough indication
   that meat is not treated as a harmful substance per se.
2. The obligation for the Korban Pesach is upon EVERYONE ... The only
   point is (a) that one is not liable to Karet if one is not in
   Jerusalem -- in which case one is expected to take advantage of
   Pesach Sheni as a "make-up" and (b) that it is probably NOT a good
   idea to compare discussion re "B'sar Ta'ava" (meat eaten solely out
   of a desire to eat meat) with the instances where it is a mitzva.
3. I do not believe that Rav Kook ever opposed meat per se in the
   context of the Torah-mandated Korbanot.
4. Of course, keeping G-d's Torah does not absolve us from
   responsibility to know what is going on... I specifically noted that
   if the meat is suspected of being tainted or contaminated, then
   there are [I think] halachic guidelines re NOT eating such meat.
   However, I still feel that we cannot use our "superior understanding"
   as a basis to refute matters that seem to be explicitly prescribed by
   the Torah.  Attempting to find a basis to PROHIBIT meat on the basis
   of our "superior understanding" when the Torah permits it seems to be
   an exercise in arrogance.  It is in this context that I was
   particularly irritated by the comparison of meat consumption to
   smoking.  Smoking is -- inherently -- an action of ingesting a toxic
   and dangerous substance.  Consumption of meat -- as activity
   permitted/mandated by Torah cannot be lumped together with smoking
   unless one is prepared to say: I know better than Torah Law in this
5. I *do not* slander all vegetarians.  People who do not eat meat
   because: they do not like meat, they cannot afford meat, they wish to
   exercise self-discipline, they suspect meat of being contaminated
   with toxins, pesticides, or other chemicals are not at all part of
   this discussion.  My "ire" is aimed at those who do not eat meat for
   "moral" reasons.  My "morality" is Torah-based and I feel that this
   Torah-based morality is superior to the Human originated stuff.
   People who claim that it is "inherently" wrong of us to eat meat
   ... that it is just a "base" concession which we should
   overcome... it is THOSE people with whom I have an issue...



From: <DONIZ@...> (Doni Zivotofsky)
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 20:08:10 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Vegetarianism Continued

Richard Schwartz's next segment against the use of any animal products
by frum Jews, brings out the concept of Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim -
minimizing the suffering of animals.  This is a concept that I think the
Torah emphasizes in a number of mitvos (eg.  Shiluach Hakan, osso ve'es
bno, kilayim, shechitah, basar vechalv (how abhorrent to seethe a kid in
its own mothers milk), to name but a few).  A nice review of this
subject can be found in a book by the same name by Noah J. Cohen and
published by Feldheim publishers.  I feel strongly that the Torah
mandates kindness to animals and, as a Jewish applicant, used this
concept as the thesis for my entrance essay to veterinary school.
     However, Richard wants to use the examples he brings from the Avos
(forefathers) as support for an animal-product free lifestyle.  Yet the
ancestors of our people all made a living from animal agriculture. They
obtained food, clothing and currency from their animals and or their
animals' "byproducts".  Their wealth and success is often measured by
the numbers of their livestock.  Why did Yosef tell paraoh that the
children of Israel would have to live separately from the rest of the
egyptian population - to tend to their flocks that the rest of the
Egyptian animal-worshipping population would not tolerate.

One of the best examples might be from this week's parsha (weekly Torah
portion).  Avraham Avinu receives three guests.  To honor them he serves
butter, milk and then a "tender young bullock" (veal?)  Rashi brings the
gemarah that he actually slaughtered three calves so that each guest
could have a whole tongue with mustard (Did they have it on "real Jewish
     In any event, I think that a more appropriate conclusion from the
example of biblical personalities and their animals might be that God
gave us the domestic animals to care for (to farm).  We may use them
(and, as Tzvi Weiss points out, sometimes must use them to fulfill
mitvos) but we must always be considerate of their needs.  This may be
analogous to a Jewish concept of slavery where the slave at times must
be treated better than the master - and sometimes one's animals receive
first priority over the master (eg. feeding one's animals first).

 It does not, however, preclude human beings from using animals for
labor, transportation, shelter, clothing, meat or milk.
     If one has a problem with certain practices of "factory farming"
than maybe those practices themselves should be avoided.

However, many of the claims of abuse in so-called factory farming are
exaggerations or misunderstandings.  Our domestic animals are just that
domestic.  They are not wild animals and most could not survive if set
free in "nature".  At some point in history they were bred to be as they
are today,or maybe God gave them to us this way, but nonetheless they
are dependent on humans for their basic needs of food and shelter.  What
measure can we use to determine if these animals are in fact suffering?
On a "short- term" basis the reaction of the animal might be helpful
although maybe not a true indicator.  Does it avoid how it is being
treated or cry out in pain?  On a longer term basis we must look at
other measures.  I think a good indicator would be how well the animal
thrives and produces.  A suffering animal will not thrive or produce
well.  That outcome will be bad for the farmer (factory or not) as well
as the animal so it is not likely that a farmer will pursue such a
program if he can avoid it.  Some examples from the business that I am
most involved with - lactating dairy cows: We may be consulted to
determine why a producer's cows are not producing as well they could or
are not as healthy.  Cow comfort can be the culprit and farmers will
readily accommodate their cows when we point out the difference it can
make.  When we walk into the barn one of the first observations we make
is if the cows are laying comfortably with sufficient space and adequate
clean bedding and if the majority of the cows are ("contentedly")
chewing their cud.  In the same vein, I have often seen ads looking to
hire exclusively women to milk cows because the general perception is
that women milkers handle the cows more gently and the cows thus have
less stress and produce better.  I could bring more examples from other
areas but I think the point has been illustrated.
     To briefly address some of the specific points Richard mentions.
1) Veal calves taken off the mother after two days of nursing to be
raised separately but on a nutritious diet ( like Similac).  I think it
is important to qualify and quantify what you mean by being made
"anemic".  Licking their own urine - lots of cattle (adults included)
will do this and without any dietary deficiencies.  A third of normal
healthy cattle will occasionally eat dirt/soil for "no good reason".
Cows are funny.  Where do dogs gravitate to when they are taken for a
walk?  The excrement of another dog.  It is important not to be too
anthropomorphic when trying to determine what is normal for animals.  2)
Artificial insemination - is this really cruel?  Where does it say that
animals must be exposed to members of the opposite sex or have
intercourse with them.  AI sure cuts down on the incidence of venereally
transmitted diseases.  It also permits certain manipulation for the
benefit of man and beast. Eg.  Genetic selection for disease resistance,
selection of "calving- ease bulls" for inseminating maiden heifers to
minimize trauma and possibly death to first time mothers.  3) dehorning
cattle (and castration which I'm afraid D/T halachic constraints I can't
defend) are done for the safety of the animals as well as their human
handlers.  If done early the trauma is minimal.  (i.e. resume eating
etc.. without signs of stress, immediately).  Some country's, such as
Great Britain have legislature now which prohibits these procedures from
being done without proper anesthesia.  There may be a little added
expense and inconvenience but it is probably worth the effort.
        There will probably always be the abusers but I don't think we
can say it is the rule or the policy of the industry of animal
agriculture.  I believe that the Torah mandates that we be vigilante in
the prevention of Tsa'ar Ba'alei Chaim but that need not preclude the
use of animals for our benefit.



End of Volume 16 Issue 17