Volume 27 Number 45
                      Produced: Mon Dec 29 14:55:01 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Yitzhak Grossman]
Judaism and Vegetarianism
         [Richard Schwartz]
Reductio ad absurdium
         [Yeshaya Halevi]
Vegetarianism (2)
         [Perry Dane, Menashe Elyashiv]
New List - yavneh-na
         [Joseph P. Wetstein]


From: Yitzhak Grossman <itzhakg@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Dec 1997 23:20:35 +0200
Subject: Fish

Does anyone know where Maharil is said to have disliked fish?


From: Richard Schwartz <SCHWARTZ@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 1997 13:11:36 -0400
Subject: Judaism and Vegetarianism

[I will insist that the major aspect of this discussion be focused on
the Jewish and Halachic aspects of the issue. I do not have any interest
in using this forum to debate the issue of whether or not vegetarianism
is or is not a direct contributer to health etc. Richard quotes a few
sources in this posting, and those that have interest in that issue are
encouraged to take the discussion off-line with him. I will accept at
most one additional posting on sources for the health issue if someone
convinces me to post sources for contrary studies. For the rest of the
discussion, I would like it to focus on the Jewish and Halachic
issues. Mod.]

     In response to some of the arguments against vegetarianism in past
issues of Mail Jewish:

     First a general question:  Since Judaism permits the killing of 
animals only if a basic human need is met, and we do not need to eat 
animals to live healthy vigorous lives (the opposite is arguably the 
case), what is the justification for killing animals for food?  
Please recall that hunting for sport is forbidden because it is not 
considered a legitimate need.  Please also consider that the 
realities related to the  production and consumption of meat have 
changed drastically in the last 60 years or so, in terms of the 
advent of "factory farming" and our increased knowledge of nutrition 
and health. 

     Second, because of the importance of the issues in terms of the 
health of the Jewish people and the environmental health of planet 
earth, I would like to recommend that a committee of Jewish scholars, 
and health, nutritional, and environmental experts be set up to issue 
a report on the true facts related to our diets, so that religious 
Jews can judge if animal-based diets are truly compatible with 
Halacha and Jewish values. I believe that such a report would be a 
great kiddush HaShem.

Barak Greenfield, MD wrote;

> 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.

    I would like to respectfully recommend consideration of the so-
called "China Study", run by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. of Cornell 
University, in conjunction with Chinese universities and the Chinese 
government.  It is perhaps the largest epidemiological study in 
history and it was called the "grand prix of epidemiology" by the New 
York Times.  It studied all aspects of people's lifestyles in 65 
Chinese villages and found tremendous differences in disease rates, 
and they correlated strongly with the amount of animal fat consumed.  
It also concluded that the less animal fat eaten the better, and that 
a completely plant-diet is the ideal diet for humans.

     We should also consider Dean Ornish, MD's controlled study which 
showed that severe heart problems could be reversed on a vegetarian. 
nearly vegan, diet, along with other lifestyle changes, while members 
of the control group who were following the recommendations of the 
American Heart Association (up to 30% fat; no red meat, but fish and 
chicken without the skin) did not get better, and in most cases got 
     There are many other indicators that a shift to vegetarian diets 
can improve health.  For example, when people in Norway were forced 
to adopt vegeterian diets during World War II, the death rate went 
sharply down, only to return to pre-war conditions at the end of the 
war, when there was a return to the pre-war diet. Also, migration 
studies have shown that when people from Japan and other countries 
come to the US and adopt typical American diets, their risk of cancer 
and other diseases soon parallels that of Americans.
      Since there are powerful lobbies trying to keep people confused 
about food choices, I again urge that a panel of experts be formed to 
report the true facts.

> 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.

     This is no doubt true, but some important Orthodox rabbis have 
been questioning modern "factory farming" practices:

1.  Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, a modern Torah scholar living in 
Jerusalem, in his book "Masterplan" states, "It seems doubtful from 
all that has been said whether the Torah would sanction 'factory 
farming,' which treats animals as machines, with apparent 
insensitivity to their natural needs and instincts.  This is a matter 
for decision by halachic authorities".

2. Rabbi David Rosen, a modern Israeli Orthodox rabbi and former 
Chief Rabbi of Ireland states the situation even stronger:

    . . . the current treatment of animals in the livestock trade 
         definitely renders the consumption of meat as halachically 
         unacceptable as the product of illegitimate means". 

     He indicates that he is not only referring to the production 
of veal and goose liver, the "most obvious and outrageous" examples 
of animal mistreatment, but also to common practices in the livestock 
trade, such as massive drug dosing and hormonal treatment.

3. The preeminent 18th-century rabbinic authority, Rabbi Ezekiel 
Landau asserted that the mere killing of an animal for food does not 
violate the prohibition against tsa'ar ba'alei chayim; this 
prohibition is only applicable "if he causes (the animal) pain while 
alive."   In view of the horrible conditions under which animals 
are raised today, it would be difficult to argue that this biblical 
prohibition is not being severely violated.

4.  Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (ZTL), the most influential Orthodox 
Jewish authority in the United States for many years, indicated in 
1982 that it is forbidden for Jews to raise calves for veal under 
current intensive livestock agricultural conditions, since this 
violates the prohibition of tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, and he explains 
why the production of veal is not a legitimate necessity which could 
justify such suffering. (Even Haezer, Part 4, end of no. 92, pp 164-

     Space and time do not permit me to give details of the horrible 
treatment of farm animals today, and to respond to all the points 
raised.  Please contact me if you would like further information.

> 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.

     Conditions are very different today.  Grain stocks are at record 
lows.  The respected Worldwatch Institute predicts severe grain 
shortages in the next decades.  Meanwhile, McDonald's opens an 
incredible 2,100 new outlets annually, according to a recent Newsweek.
Vegetarianism is certainly not the complete answer to world hunger, 
but it does mean that agricultural inputs such as land, energy, 
water, etc., could be applied to raisng more food for hungry people.

> 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.

     I do not claim that vegetarianism is mandated by Halacha.  I do 
believe that vegetarianism is the diet preferred by G-d (please let 
me know if you would like my article on this) and I also believe that 
Jews have a choice of diet, but that the choice should be based on a 
knowledge of the realities related to the production and consumption 
of animal products and a consideration of whether or not basic Jewish 
values and Halacha are violated by current practices.

     As a meat eater for over 40 years, I know how difficult it is to 
change one's diet, especially when so many Jewish events and simchas 
feature animal products, and there are very powerful lobbies that 
try to push their products, while downplaying negative factors.  
However, I believe respectfully that observant Jews should become 
aware of current realities about the negative effects related to 
modern intensive livestock agriculture and the consumption of meat, 
and then consider whether or not they violate Halacha and basic 
Jewish values.


From: Yeshaya Halevi <CHIHAL@...>
Date: Sun, 28 Dec 1997 12:41:24 EST
Subject: Reductio ad absurdium

Shalom, All:
	Responding to Kenneth H. Ryesky's pithy note that <<If one were
not permitted to write "God" in English (or languages other than
Hebrew), then we'd have an awful problem with people named G-ttlieb,
G-ttfried, Grussg-tt, G-ttesman, or, for that matter, Th-odore.  Not
only writing the name, but pronouncing it as well. >>, Steve White also
points out that when this is carried to a further extreme, what about
<<Ari-kel, Yisra-kel, etc.  >>.
	Not to engage in "one downmanship," but I distinctly remember
the first time I heard this reductio ad absurdium voiced.  I was at a
wedding in the early 1960s, and the yeshiva kid next to me politely
inquired if I would pass a bottle of "ginger kale."
      Yeshaya Halevi (<Chihal@...>)


From: Perry Dane <dane@...>
Date: Sun, 07 Dec 1997 15:13:40 -0500
Subject: Vegetarianism

Avi Feldblum writes:
>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.

	I am not a vegetarian.  But it does not seem to me that Singer
was "creating" a moral ethic.  Rather, he was responding to what he felt
was a moral imperative.

	That, of course, raises this issues: Does the halakhah require
that a Jew's entire moral outlook be "derivable from Torah," if Torah is
understood as the four corners of the halakhah?  There is, of course,
much in the halakhic tradition itself that would suggest that the answer
to this question is resoundingly "no."  As many authors have pointed
out, the halakhah itself often assumes that there are moral imperatives
"beyond" strict halakhic discourse.

Perry Dane                             <dane@...>
Professor of Law, Rutgers University   (609) 225-6004 (work)
School of Law -- Camden	               (609) 225-6516 (fax)
Fifth & Penn Streets		       (610) 896-5702 (home)
Camden, NJ  08102

From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 08:22:02 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Vegetarianism

Chihal wrote that he heard that it is in the Kabbala that vegetarianism is
the highest form of eating. See Rav Kook's Hazon Hasimhonut.
On the other hand I saw a Kabbalistic book (I do not have it handy) that
says that eating fish is a higher form of eating than eating meat.
Therefore fish should be eaten at the seudat Brit. But the highest form of
eating is ... eating locust (hagavim). It is so high that we are not able
to do it in our days, but can do in in kavanot (mentally). However, there
are Jews who do eat locust. My father in law told us that he eat them in
Morracco and that they are quite tastey. 


From: Joseph P. Wetstein <jpw@...>
Date: Tue, 7 Oct 1997 13:18:16 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: New List - yavneh-na

There is a relatively new list active that discusses aspects of Classic
Orthodoxy in the modern world... including what the world thinks of us,
what should our relationship as frum Jews be to the 'outside' world, and
matters of halachic and social import. Posts have included eruv in US
cities, kashrus (not specifics of what is-or what isn't kosher, but more
matters of philosophy), the need for reform in the frum world (batte
din, etc). It is not a digest.

Interested readers can write to:

<yavneh-na@...>  or 

<listproc@...> for a subscription. [I assume that the list name is
yavneh-na, so the message to the listproc should be:

subscribe yavneh-na "Your Real Name Here"




End of Volume 27 Issue 45