Volume 27 Number 29
                      Produced: Tue Dec  2  6:19:05 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Another Reply on Vegetarianism
         [Barry Parnas]
Basic Jewish case for vegetarianism (3)
         [Menachem A. Bahir, Eli Clark, Binyomin Segal]
Jewish Vegetarianism
         [Sheldon Meth]


From: Barry Parnas <BARRY.L.PARNAS@...>
Date: 01 Dec 1997 13:16:30 -0600
Subject: Another Reply on Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism - Point of Information

I caught several discussions on vegetarianism and, as a serious student
of non-western medicine and diet, I would like to add some points of
information from my experience.

Also, the nature of the discussion raises several issues: 1) the focus
on vegetarianism, and 2) "one size fits all" solutions.

First, why even discuss vegetarianism as seriously?  Ostensibly because
vegetarianism has ramafications in halacha for atleast the reason of
guarding one's health.  OK.  If it helps a person to be more healthy,
then it may be called for.  But, the claims for vegetarianism being
ultimately more healthy have never been proven.  And, the studies
supporting a more vegetarian diet don't support a strictly vegetarian

There are plenty of health practitioners, who actually work with people
on a daily, intimate basis (rather than as scientists doing narrow, cold
studies on statistical populations) who find that their patients need
some form of flesh.  In fact, people who were meat eaters and suffering
from at least one illness (chronic mercury toxicity) recover, while
vegetarians do not.

This brings us to the "one size fits all" issue.  Why would anyone think
that a single diet would work for everyone?  Or, a single lifestyle
(within halacha) be optimal for everyone?  Or, a single community or
shul or derech be optimal for everyone?  People are just too different.
Not everyone can sit and learn, not everyone can cut diamonds, not
everyone can bake bread.

One size fits all is a nice idea, but it's coldly analytical and the
stuff of books and academia, not the stuff of halacha.

The halacha permits meat eating.  If it works for a person, it's
permitted.  Like everything else, a person can pervert even those things
permitted by halacha, but that perversion does not destroy the
permissible proper practice.  The same is true for so many issues
discussed in this forum.  Torah makes possible a multitude of
permissible lifestyles.  Amazing.

Barry Parnas


From: Menachem A. Bahir <tjvmab@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 1997 20:31:33 -0700
Subject: Re: Basic Jewish case for vegetarianism

>From: <rturkel@...> (Rick Turkel)
>  Aside from the fact that we are commanded to partake of meat on
>shabbat and yom tov because "ein simxa 'ela bevasar veyayin" (there is
>no joy without meat and wine),

Rick, your line is originally from a paragraph of the Rambam talking about
different things that bring joy to a person on Shabbos . The paragraph ends
with the Rambam saying "...most men eat meat and drink wine" It is NOT one
the 613 Mitzvahs to eat meat, however it is one of the 613 Mitzvahs to make
Yom Tov a delight! If eating flesh is the only way you can make Yom Tov's a
delight well....Good Shabbos!

>From: Tzadik and Sheva Vanderhoof <stvhoof@...>
>First of all, animals were created to serve people.  Cruelty to animals only
>applies where the cruelty serves no constructive purpose for man. 

Not 100% true, in the Talmud Rabbi Yahuda the Prince was inflicted for 16
years with stomach problems not because he told a calf to go be slaughter
because that is what the calf was made for but because he showed NO
compassion toward the calf!
Menachem A. Bahir,the Jewish Vegan
http://jewishvegan.home.ml.org  or http://www.goodnet.com/~tjvmab

From: Eli Clark <clarke@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 12:38:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Basic Jewish case for vegetarianism

In Vol. 27 #26 Digest, Richard Schwartz <SCHWARTZ@...>
presents what he calls a "basic Jewish case for vegetarianism."  I
believe one of the key issues underlying his arguments is whether or to
what extent Halakhah takes a global approach in its prescription of
Jewish behavior.  In other words, when Jewish law dictates behavior for
Jews, does it take into account the impact such behavior would have on
the planet if all human beings -- Jews and non-Jews alike -- adopted the
same behavior?

Before addressing this question, we should identify the statements
presented by Richard which turn on this point.

He notes that:
* most farm animals are raised for food today under extremely cruel
conditions in small confined spaces;
* over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to
animals destined for slaughter;
 *animal -centered diets contribute substantially to soil erosion and
depletion, extensive airand water pollution related to chemical
fertilizer and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and
other habitats, and global warming;
 * livestock agriculture requires far more food, land, water, energy,
and other resources than plant-based agriculture.

For the sake of argument, let us concede all of these points without
question.  Nevertheless, I believe that Richard would agree that, if
tomorrow all Jews in the world stopped eating meat (not to mention all
observant Jews), the basic market demand for meat in the Western world
would not be so dramatically reduced as to end the cruel treatment of
animals for purposes of meat production, lessen the amount of US grain
fed to animals, reduce the deleterious effects on the environment caused
by animal-based diets or influence the the degree of resource depletion
attributable to livestock agriculture.

In other words, Richard's ecological arguments do not make sense when
applied to the Jewish community alone.  Therefore, it is not enough
enough to say that the halakhic prohibition against wasting (bal
tashchit) or cruelty to animals (tza'ar ba`alei hayyim) indicates that
Jews should foreswear meat-based diets.  For Richard's arguments to be
compelling we must accept one or more of the following propositions:

1. The Halakhah does more than govern an individual Jew's behavior
toward animals and the environment.  It also prohibits such cruelty to
animals or destruction of resources by non-Jews, when the non-Jew acts
directly for the benefit of the individual Jew, for the benefit of Jews
in general or for the benefit of non-Jewish eaters of meat.

2. Jews are obligated (by Halakhah) to consider the global impact of
human behavior on the environment.  Therefore, they must personally
refrain from behavior which has a negative impact on the environment and
(because this alone will not save the environment), they must actively
work to change the behavior of others.

3. Jews are NOT obligated to consider the global impact of human
behavior on the environment.  But they are required to be exemplars of
behavior for humanity.  Therefore, irrespective of any real impact on
the world environment, every Jew must refrain from eating meat because
that is what, Jewishly speaking, all humans should do.

It is my impression (and I welcome dissenting views) that there is very
little in halakhic sources to substantiate any of the three above
propositions.  There are, of course, some very specific rules regarding
causing others to sin (lifnei iver and siyu`a liydei ovrei averah),
which I am hard-pressed to apply to the question of eating meat.
Moreover, the basic halakhic obligations imposed on non-Jews do not seem
to govern most of the concerns enumerated by Richard.  Finally, though
various halakhot focus on the community, the land of Israel, a sovereign
Jewish state, and even the entire Jewish people, Halakhah does not seem
to address global human behavior as a general rule.  Even the seven
Noahide laws have an individual or communal basis, rather than a one
which is planet-wide.

That being the case, I think we are left with an argument that
vegeterianism may be said to fulfill the "spirit' of Jewish law.  Here
we move into gray areas which are subject to different interpretations.
Philosophically, Richard is correct when he states that Jewish law
teaches us to respect and revere Nature.  At the same time, as has been
noted, Jewish law regulates the eating of meat without proscribing it.
It is difficult to escape the conclusion that eating meat is halakhic.
(Of course, just as one cannot steal meat in order to eat it, one may
not eat meat in a manner which destroys natural resources or constitutes
cruelty to animals.  But, for these purposes, Halakhah would require a
far close causal connection between a particular Jew's eating a
particular piece of meat on a particular day and the anti-halakhic
activity vis a vis the environment or animals. )

Of course, an individual may take it upon him or herself to stop eating
meat.  There is ample halakhic precedent for the adoption of private
stringencies.  And I have heard that various great Jewish leaders did
indeed adopt this particular stringency.  But I do not believe this is
the basis for a general campaign against the eating of meat in halakhic



From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 22:09:22 -0600
Subject: re: Basic Jewish case for vegetarianism

Last year, when i taught kashrus in depth to my sophmore class, we did a
unit or 2 on cruelty to animals and vegetarianism. perhaps i can make a
few (somewhat contradictory) points, and introduce a few more sources as

Avi points out:
*A simple reading of the text of the Torah is, in my opinion clearly in
*support of a near-vegetarian diet. The language used for the eating of
*non-Korban (sacrifice) based meat appears clearly to be phrased as a
*concession to a person's desire/lust for meat, rather than a positive
*implication that we are to eat meat. In addition, I can easily argue
*that the reason for such "extensive" laws regarding meat was to make the
*eating of meat a difficult task and not one that would be often done
*(especially in the days before your local Kosher butcher store).

avi's read of the torah is not inaccurate. nonetheless - our desires are
not neccesarily a bad thing. lust is a desire that is given free reign,
desires can and should be channelled to the service of Hashem, and when
that is done those very desires can be seen as holy acts (see for
example OH siman 231). the torah describes how the desire of meat can be
channeled into the service of Hashem, either through the korban, or when
that is not possible then through the extensive laws of kashrus. notice
for example that shechita (slaughter) is referred to in the torah as
zevichah (offering).

and though i think Rick Turkel's point
*the fact that we are commanded to partake of meat on shabbat and yom tov
*because "ein simxa 'ela bevasar veyayin" (there is no joy without meat
*and wine)

is halachikly weak at best.the gemara (psachim) that mentions this as an
obligation is clearly referring specifically to yom tov and specifically
to the korbanos and that is how the mishna brura paskens. none the less
there are opinions in that same gemara that suggest that meat is an
appropriate physical pleasure to manifest the physical joy of yom
tov. that is - since we are supposed to enjoy yom tov in a physical
sense, and since meat is a physical pleasure, it is an appropriate tool
for the enjoyment of yom tov.  similar to the ideas expressed above.

it would seem then that certainly meat can not be allowed (like any
other desire) to become a lust, but none the less there are appropriate
ways to channel that desire into the service of Hashem.

Tszvi Klugerman says:
*I recall that Rabbi Weiss, who taught the Yoreh Deah Shiur when I was in
*RIETS explained that there were some people (possibly chasidei Ashkenaz,
*I don't remember) who felt that only on Shabbat was mankind worthy of
*eating meat and exerting their mastery over animals

there are a number of sources that indicate this type of idea. first of
all there is a gemara in psachim (49b) that says that an "am haaretz"
should not eat meat. most of the halachic sources explain this gemara to
be discussing the needed expertise in preparing meat (that would not be
relevant in our day of professional shochtim and butchers), but there
are others, i believe the tanya among them who explain this gemara in
light of the need to properly use meat in a spiritual sense.

*> >2) While Judaism mandates compassion for animals, most farm animals are
*> >raised for food today under extremely cruel conditions in small confined
*> >spaces, where they are denied fulfillment of their instinctual needs.
*In the secondly above, I guess the basic question I have is, is "those who
*are concerned" a voluntary matter, or is it mandated by the halachot of
*tzar baali chaim (cruelty to animals)? Does the condition of animals
*raised for food have a halachic basis in our choice to purchase such or
*not? What are the halachic sources. The third point above is totally
*irrelevant to the discussion.

rav moshe feinstein discusses this question explicitly in regard to
white veal. (even haezer vol 4 siman 92 section 3) rav moshe's opinion
is basically that while it is assur for the farmer to raise the animal
in this way, it is not -from strict halacha - the problem of the buyer
of food. he says that a "baal nefesh" should avoid this meat.

(just as an aside - rav ovadia yosef MAY disagree with this leniency. he
clearly forbids (yechaveh daat 3:66) attending a bull fight, regardless
of participation, in part because you can not encourage the cruelty,
which you do by paying for the event)

on the other hand, rav moshe states later in his tshuva that the
prohibition is based specifically on his assumption that white veal is
not better in any way (taste, health, etc) but is merely a marketing
trick to get more money from consumers. if feeding an animal a
particular feed under painful conditions makes the animal healthier food
or even better tasting - there is according to rav moshe no prohibition
of tzar baalei chaim in raising the animal in this way.

the whole issue of tzar baalei chaim is a pretty tricky one, as there
are some very basic philosophical differences among the rishonim about
the meaning of the prohibition and the extent. for example - is shechita
required because it is the least painful method of killing the animal?
the chinuch says yes, though there seems no evidence that we must always
kill an animal in that way (lets say for non food use). many disagree
with the chinuch and suggest that there are other reasons that shechita
is required, but that when killing an animal any method - even a painful
one - is permitted, as that does not fall under the rubric of tzar
baalei chaim. see for example nodah b'yehudah (taninah) yora deah
10. and for a completely different approach see rama oh 223.

my thoughts



From: Sheldon Meth <SHELDON.Z.METH@...>
Date: 1 Dec 1997 09:17:31 -0500
Subject: Jewish Vegetarianism

In the Hagaddah of the author of the Sefer Hatoda'ah, he states [sorry I
don't have it at hand; this is my recollection of his words] that
Vegetarianism is not a Jewish concept.  That is, it is OK if a Jew does
not want to eat meat, but one cannot claim that it has any basis in
Jewish Hashkafah.  The proof he gives is the mitzvah of Korban Pesach
itself: every Jew is required by Law to eat at least a kizayos [olive's
volume] of meat once a year.


End of Volume 27 Issue 29