Volume 27 Number 32
                      Produced: Sun Dec  7  7:38:47 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Animal cruelty
         [David Charlap]
Basic Jewish case for Vegetarianism
         [Richard Schwartz]
Basic Jewish Case for Vegetarianism
         [Barak Greenfield]
One Size Fits All
         [Tzadik and Sheva Vanderhoof]
Vegetarian (2)
         [Yeshaya Halevi, Avi Feldblum]
         [Linda Katz]
         [Eli Clark]


From: David Charlap <david@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 1997 11:21:25 -0500
Subject: Animal cruelty

<bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal) writes:
> (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)

IMO, there is one big difference between a bullfight and eating meat -

When you buy meat, your purpose is not the cruelty, but in getting the
meat.  The fact that it is possible to raise and slaughter animals
without cruelty, and that you would never explicitly seek out meat from
animal cruelty (although you might explicitly seek out meat from non-
cruel farms) underscores this.

On the other hand, with the bullfight, the entire purpose of the event
is the cruelty to the animal(s).  Nobody goes for any purpose other than
to watch a person slowly kill an animal for the crowd's amusement.  (I'd
guess that Rav Ovadia Yosef would also forbid other sports of animal
cruelty, like cock fighting and pit-bull fighting.)

This difference in intent may be enough to permit meat from cruel farms
while still forbidding animal-cruelty sports.

David Charlap        | The content of this message is not the opinion
<david@...>      | of Visix Software, nor of anyone besides myself
Visix Software, Inc.


From: Richard Schwartz <SCHWARTZ@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 10:01:03 -0400
Subject: Basic Jewish case for Vegetarianism

Tzadik and Sheva Vanderhoof wrote (in responding to my paragraph below):
> > >5) While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, that we are not to waste or
> > >unnecessarily destroy anything of value, livestock agriculture requires
> > >far more food, land, water, energy, and other resources than plant-based
> > >agriculture.
> > 
> > It seems like a stretch to apply "bal tashchit" in such an indirect way.

Avi Feldblum comments on the above:
> I would say that there is a distinction between wasting/destroying
> something, where I think that "bal tashchit" clearly applies, and not
> doing something in the most "efficient" manner, where I would need to
> see that halacha views that as falling under "bal tashchit".

     Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch states (Horeb, Chapter 56, Section
399): "destruction does not only mean making something purposely unfit
for its designated use; it also means trying to obtain a certain aim by
making use of more things and more valuable things when fewer and less
valuable ones would suffice."  Hence, I believe that "bal tashchit" does
apply, since humans can live very well without an animal-based diet that
requires far more land, water, energy, pesticides, chemical fertilizer,
and other agricultural inputs than the vegetarian diet that G-d first
gave us in Genesis 1:29.

Avi Feldblum also writes:
> In summary, I think that Richard raises some interesting points that
> would merit discussion on the list. As yet, he has not convinced me, so
> I'll stick with my Friday night chicken soup and Shabbat Chulent, but
> I'm ready to listen to what people have to say.

     I appreciate Avi's willingness to consider the issues, and the 
respectfulness in all of his comments. 
Richard H. Schwartz
Professor, Mathematics    College of Staten Island
2800 Victory Boulevard  Staten Island, NY 10314  USA  (718) 982-3621
Email address: <Schwartz@...>

From: <DocBJG@...> (Barak Greenfield)
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 03:04:38 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Basic Jewish Case for Vegetarianism

In his posting, "Basic Jewish Case for Vegetarianism," Richard Schwartz
employs various arguments to try to promote his ideology as being not only
compatible with, but mandated by Judaism. However, perhaps an alternative
analysis of his points is in order.

1. Health reasons 

While overindulgence in meat can clearly lead to various maladies, there
is no evidence that eating it in reasonable quantities is
harmful. Studies that claim to show that vegetarians live longer than
those who eat meat fail to take into account other lifestyle factors,
such as body weight, exercise, and smoking.

2. Compassion for animals

The halacha prohibits cruelty to animals for cruelty's sake, not when
incidental to some other purpose (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, chapter 191,
paragraph 1). I am not aware of any halachic authority who has issued a
blanket prohibition against eating meat merely because animals are
raised in cramped conditions.

3. Worldwide hunger 

While it is true that grain which currently is used as animal feed could
instead be fed to starving people, that is hardly the reason for famine
in various parts of the world. There is enough of a worldwide grain
surplus to feed many starving nations, even while continuing to feed
livestock.  Available grain either is not delivered to places of need,
or is not distributed there because of heartless third-world leaders or
lack of sufficient infrastructure.

4. Violates the principle of bal tashchit (not wasting things of value)
because "livestock agriculture requires far more food, land, water, energy,
and other resources than plant-based agriculture."

In other words, a cow eats more than a person. While undoubtedly true,
this has been known since creation, and since the halacha has never
prohibited eating meat in the past, it seems unreasonable for it to
start now.

Mr. Schwartz is certainly entitled to personally prefer the vegetarian
life.  However, the suggestion that this position is somehow mandated by
halacha requires more critical analysis.

Barak Greenfield, MD


From: Tzadik and Sheva Vanderhoof <stvhoof@...>
Date: Sat, 6 Dec 1997 23:38:05 +0200
Subject: One Size Fits All

>From: Barry Parnas <BARRY.L.PARNAS@...>>
>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.

Although the original subject of this excerpt was vegetarianism, I think
he's touched on an important question of hashkafa that I'd like to
explore...in particular "not everyone can sit and learn".  I know there
is definitely a stream of hashkafa that posits exactly that everyone
*should* sit and learn.  Those who grow up in this "circle" are
basically expected to learn all day in kollel for life, regardless of
ability, personality, inclination, needs, etc.  A person is looked down
upon if he works, even more so if the job is not connected with learning
Torah (such as a "cheder rebbe") and even *more* so if the job is not
even connected with mitzvos (such as a scribe).  Such a person (say some
sort of professional or manual worker) is referred to as one "who has
gone out into the street".

I recently attended a shiur where the speaker touched on this
concept...he was talking about the "world of imagination (olam ha
dimyon)" and one of the remarks he made was "Anyone that's ever left
yeshiva to go to work is living in the 'olam ha dimyon' ".  The
speaker's point was that although the person in question may have proof
that he cannot survive financially without working, the only reason he
pays attention to these proofs is that he lacks faith that G-d will
support him, stemming from his living in the "olam ha dimyon", by which
he meant (I think) paying attention to what "the world" thinks is
important (i.e. material posessions) and not what G-d thinks is
important (i.e. learning Torah).

I've also heard many people argue that sometimes it actually is
necessary to work, because the kesuba obligates a husband to support his
wife or for other financial reasons.  But what I haven't heard much
discussion about is the question of a person who may be able to get by
financially without working but wants to work for the fulfillment of
working in a certain field that is special to him.  Rather, whenever
I've heard the question of "to work or not to work" argued, it's always
assumed that the only reason a person would want to work instead of
learn full time is purely financial.  However, would it be hashkafically
acceptable to choose to work for other reasons, i.e. ability,
inclination, personality, etc?

[As an aside, I heard one rabbi refute the idea that a husband is
obligated by the kesuba to work to support his wife.  This rabbi argued
that learning in kollel fulfills this obligation because the husband is
doing a "spiritual hishtadlus".  That is, by learning Torah, the husband
is doing G-d's will so G-d in return will provide support.]

I've tried to be objective about this here...I'd like to hear arguments
on both sides...



From: <CHIHAL@...> (Yeshaya Halevi)
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 10:22:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Vegetarian

Shalom, All:
        Since nobody seems to have said it yet, please permit me to quote
Isaac Bashevis Singer (may his name be remembered for a blessing).  Singer
said he was a vegetarian for reasons of health.  "Not my health," he said,
"but the chicken's."
        Also, I have heard that some kabalists maintain that the highest form
of keeping kosher is to be vegetarian.  Any comments on that?
        Lastly, in Isaiah, regarding the Messianic Age, the prophet says that
the wolf shall dwell (in harmony) with the sheep.  Doesn't this imply that
vegetarianism is a higher state?
    Yeshaya Halevi (<Chihal@...>) -- a self-confessed carnivore

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Dec 1997 07:26:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Vegetarian

Yeshaya Halevi writes:
>         Since nobody seems to have said it yet, please permit me to quote
> Isaac Bashevis Singer (may his name be remembered for a blessing).  Singer
> said he was a vegetarian for reasons of health.  "Not my health," he said,
> "but the chicken's."

It would appear to me that this attitude is clearly NOT in accordance to
Halacha, as the Torah states that the animal world is given to man to
eat from it (within the confines of halacha). This would represent, in
my opinion, creating ones one moral ethic seperate from that derivable
from Torah.



From: <MSGraphics@...> (Linda Katz)
Date: Fri, 5 Dec 1997 00:27:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Vegetarianism

A side point to this discussion ("most farm animals are raised for food
today under extremely cruel conditions in small confined spaces")-

I'm not positive about this- but I have been told on more than one
occasion (while discussing the rather horrible methods used in mass
production and feeding of chickens and livestock,) that Empire chickens
are essentially free-range and are not fed fecal waste.

Maybe someone on the list involved with Empire could confirm this. We
can't count on it for our beef, unfortunately.

Also- no one mentioned the first instance that we see- where the "lust"
factor is discussed in the context of meat consumption- in the desert-
where the (vegetarian) mohn became boring and distasteful (despite the
fact that it could taste like anything the person wanted) and the Jews
complained for lack of meat. (Whether the foul they were sent constitute
"meat" as we think of it is a separate discussion... but it was

Clearly, there is precedent here for assuming that some people will have
at least a psychological desire for meat and that, while maybe this is a
weakness, it is not some kind of problem we are expected to overcome, as
Hashem responded by giving it to them.

(Yet it is interesting that those who disgustingly gorged themselves
were punished by literally eating themselves to death.)

Linda Katz
MS Graphics   http://members.aol.com/msgraphics


From: Eli Clark <clarke@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 09:50:00 -0500
Subject: RE: World-to-Come

In mail-jewish Vol. 27 #26 Digest <howardg@...> (Howard Gontovnick)
asks for recommend readings that explain the emergence of the
world-to-come in the Torah and in Midrashic writings of the Tannaitic
Rabbinic period.

An excellent introduction to the theology of the Rabbinic period is E.E.
Urbach's Hazal:Emunot ve-Deot, which includes a section on reward and
punishment and and a chapter on redemption.  For the hebraically
impaired, the work is available in English translation, under the title,
"The Sages."




End of Volume 27 Issue 32