I've always been skeptical (but particularly more so since the
controversy surrounding the kosher slaughter house Agriprocessors in
Iowa) of the claim that kosher slaughter, "shechita", is the most
humane slaughter available.
Which Jewish denomination (Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist,
Reform), would be most open to taking a critical look at "shechita"
(ie most open perhaps to pre-stunning of the animal), and which
denomination would be most compatible with vegetariansm?
(I know it's not likely to be orthodox. From my readings - could the
answer be Reconstructionist?).
No one is disputing that shechita is the most humane slaughter. The issue at
Agriprocessors was not about shechita itself but rather about the rotating
Weinberg pen and that the specific cow in the PETA film was not shechted
properly. Nobody (including PETA) was making the case that treif slaughter
is generally more humane than shechita.
> Which Jewish denomination (Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist,
> Reform), would be most open to taking a critical look at "shechita"
> (ie most open perhaps to pre-stunning of the animal),
Whichever denomination most espouses the consumption of treif (non-kosher
meat). The meat of pre-stunned animals is total treif. So, if you can find
the denomination that preaches that eating treif meat is preferable to
eating kosher meat, you will have your answer. Again, the issue is not about
shechita. The issue is about the Weinberg rotating pen and that the specific
cow in the PETA film was not shechted properly. No legitimate Jewish group
is going to take a *critical* look at shechita, as shechita is the only
means of slaughter permitted by Jewish law (not to mention the most humane
method available). Jewish law permits only shechted meat.
> denomination would be most compatible with vegetarianism?
Any of them. Jewish law does not prohibit a person from being a vegetarian,
provided the person is not choosing vegetarianism for *ethical* reasons.
Since the torah clearly permits the consumption of meat, and the torah is
our absolute standard for morality, a person who avoids meat for *ethical*
reasons is essentially making a statement that the torah is immoral.
> (I know it's not likely to be orthodox. From my readings - could the
> answer be Reconstructionist?).
So IOW, vegetarianism is your religion? (I.e., your basis for choosing a
*denomination* will be based on the extent to which said denomination is
compatible with vegetarianism? Isn't that a little backwards?)
There's a good book called Think Jewish by Zalman I. Posner. You can buy it
Chabad is far from the only shul out there, but as long as you're looking
around, you might as well stop past a chabad shul just to say hi. Check out
chabad.org. You can type in your zip code and get a list of the local chabad
In addition to this group, which is a great place to ask questions you can
also ask questions at askmoses.com. They provide an online chat kind of
You know what they say, though: two Jews, three opinions. Ultimately the
choice is yours. I think its great that you are becoming more interested and
maybe just a little more observant. I hope that these resources are of help
> "scooby" <brianm...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
> > I'm Jewish, and looking into the different Jewish denominations
> > (Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform).
> > I've always been skeptical (but particularly more so since the
> > controversy surrounding the kosher slaughter house Agriprocessors in
> > Iowa) of the claim that kosher slaughter, "shechita", is the most
> > humane slaughter available.
> No one is disputing that shechita is the most humane slaughter. The issue at
> Agriprocessors was not about shechita itself but rather about the rotating
> Weinberg pen and that the specific cow in the PETA film was not shechted
> properly. Nobody (including PETA) was making the case that treif slaughter
> is generally more humane than shechita.
Actually, I think *he* is suggesting that it might not be humane.
At least, that's how I'm reading his post.
> > Which Jewish denomination (Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist,
> > Reform), would be most open to taking a critical look at "shechita"
> > (ie most open perhaps to pre-stunning of the animal),
> Whichever denomination most espouses the consumption of treif (non-kosher
> meat). The meat of pre-stunned animals is total treif. So, if you can find
> the denomination that preaches that eating treif meat is preferable to
> eating kosher meat, you will have your answer. Again, the issue is not about
> shechita. The issue is about the Weinberg rotating pen and that the specific
> cow in the PETA film was not shechted properly. No legitimate Jewish group
> is going to take a *critical* look at shechita, as shechita is the only
> means of slaughter permitted by Jewish law (not to mention the most humane
> method available). Jewish law permits only shechted meat.
While I know that some groups do not (collectively) feel that kashrut
is important, I don't know of any group which says that eating treif
is explicitly preferable to kosher meat. I could be wrong, but I think
that if you go looking on that basis you'll be looking for a long time.
> >and which
> > denomination would be most compatible with vegetarianism?
> Any of them. Jewish law does not prohibit a person from being a vegetarian,
> provided the person is not choosing vegetarianism for *ethical* reasons.
> Since the torah clearly permits the consumption of meat, and the torah is
> our absolute standard for morality, a person who avoids meat for *ethical*
> reasons is essentially making a statement that the torah is immoral.
Compatible? As Cindy says, any group is compatible, depending upon
your reasons. For health/allergy reasons? No problem. Due to cost?
Should be no problem, though you may have people from the community
coming by with cooked meals once and a while, for special occasions,
as well as getting invitations to dinner so that you might be able
to celebrate "properly". But to elaborate on what Cindy said, if you
choose to be vegetarian based upon ethical or moral grounds, then what
you're doing is choosing a moral compass from a source other than
the Torah. There, you'll wind up in some trouble from the more
observant groups. You'd be ignoring Jewish law and custom in favour
of a set of rules and customs alien to Jewish practice. While in
theory additional practices may not necessarily be incompatible with
Jewish law (depending upon what they are, of course), when you
reject the *Jewish* practices to follow them, you'll find yourself
beyond the pale of Orthodox Judaism (and, I suspect, much of
> > (I know it's not likely to be orthodox. From my readings - could the
> > answer be Reconstructionist?).
> So IOW, vegetarianism is your religion? (I.e., your basis for choosing a
> *denomination* will be based on the extent to which said denomination is
> compatible with vegetarianism? Isn't that a little backwards?)
My personal suggestion would be to study, and choose the level of
observance that "speaks" to you. You might then find that your personal
practices change as you learn more (or, maybe, the reasons for those
Don Levey If knowledge is power,
Framingham, MA and power corrupts, then...
NOTE: email server uses spam filters.
So, I'm being un-Jewish and saying the Torah is immoral, if I object to
slavery on ethical grounds. Really.
Not necessarily, as there are places where the Torah makes
"concessions" to human nature, basically legislating the minimum
ethical standard (standard example: tefat to'ar). There is plenty of
room for "lifnim mishurat hadin" (going beyond the strict requirements
of the law) when a case can be made that the Halakhic ethic points in a
> So, I'm being un-Jewish and saying the Torah is immoral, if I object
> slavery on ethical grounds. Really.
First, define "slavery".
slavery: One bound in servitude as the property of a person or household.
(I'm not sure why you wanted the definition. )
I appreciate your answer. Am I correct in paraphrasing that one can accept
vegetarianism on ethical grounds under the principle of "lifnim mishurat
hadin" and thus be consistent with the Torah?
"Shlomo Argamon" <arg...@argamon.com> wrote in message
I know that Amos and Isaiah spoke out against the sacrificial system,
when sacrifices were offered by people whose conduct was immoral. I tend to
think that animal sacrifices were part of an ancient religious mode that is
obsolete today. However, it may be true that if people personally brought
animal sacrifices to a Temple, and only ate meat on those occasions, there
would be a lot less animal slaughter and hence cruelty than there is today.
I think I read some reform commentary that said in the future only one
animal might be sacrificed a year at a final Temple. Another commentator
said that the permission of Noah to eat meat was something new. I interpret
it as the flood waters had just receded, and perhaps the earth was too soggy
to grow crops, but Noah had a big ark stocked with animals. Perhaps it was
just a concession, and eating meat is something to be gotten rid of some
day. In C7 "Clues from a Shifting Paradigm," in Glen Quasar's Into the
Bermuda Triangle, he makes, on first impression, a fascinating case for a
truly world-wide flood about 7000 years ago. There are arguments against
being purely vegetarian. Some people say that the human body is evolved so
that one needs some meat, at least from time to time, whether it is immoral
or not. Another is that if domestic animals were not slaughtered, they would
grow old and get sick and still have to be taken care of. The answer to me
would be to breed down the numbers, or possibly to breed them back totheir
genetic ancestors, and let them go wild. Another interesting argument is
going vegetarian would increase the amount of land needed to be planted,
which would be destructive to the habitats of all sorts of wild
creatures.But so is the expansion of human settlements. On the other hand,
there is the possibility of growing high-protein algae in tanks, or even of
living on the power of sunlight, as at least one person is supposed to do -
it seems like more trouble than it is worth, though - he has to stand
barefoot and faces the sun a couple of times a day. Maybe they coudl find a
way to broadcast the sun on TV - that would be more comforable, and we'd
never have to go outside. I don't think Elijah needed to eat very much, but
the ravens did bring him bread and meat - hope it wasn't raven sandwiches.
So, if there's a new showoff Temple going to be built - but who has
Temples nowadays? - I would prefer it be without any sacrifices - but it
should probably have something to distinguish it from a synagogue. Maybe a
moat filled with alligators to deter the overly-pious.
There is a wonderful Jewish vegetarian group, veggi...@yahoo.com
There's certainly a place for Jewish vegetarian thought.
No, the technique of shechita has not changed. The issue was not about
shechita itself but rather about the rotating Weinberg pen and a botched job
portrayed on the film. And the issue was only about shechita at Postville,
not about shechita at the other 29 kosher slaughterhouses.
>Peta recently exposed some of the worst example.
> They didn't choose to show the most humane example. (I have my own
> problems with Peta). Not every animal is killed in the most human way
> possible. There are those who feel that being vegetarian is in perfect
> harmony with Jewish through. One site is http://www.jewishveg.com/
This site comes within a hair's breadth of asserting that the torah
"mandates" vegetarianism, and the author, who lacks for Jewish educational
background, is rendering his own interpretations of torah to make the case
for his personal agenda. He attempts to prove his case by citing famous
rabbis who paskened that there was no halachic prohibition against being a
vegetarian, but this is a far cry from the author's view that the torah
practically mandates it.
I am sorry Rob but it is clear from other threads that we are not allowed to
have a personal conscience other than that dictated by Halachah.
Anyone who has such differing beliefs must be wrong and the person holding
such beliefs is considered to be wrong-headed.
What about Voltaire's dictum that I disagree with your beliefs but I would
die for your right to say them (rough quotation).
The (very) bad news is that you are correct: Many Orthodox Jews (especially
on this forum) do have this belief. This is the way that Judaism is taught
in many Orthodox settings, especially from Haredi ("ultra-Orthodox") rabbis.
However, the good news is that this is not the traditional Jewish position.
Contrary to what they claim, many of the Orthodox Jewish participants on
this forum are quite ignorant of the fact that there were two very different
points of view within traditional Judaism, causing a debate which still
exists to this day. Even within Orthodox Judaism many Orthodox rabbis have a
view which differs from what you have read here, despite the fact that none
of our Orthodox participants will admit it,
In simple form, the debate in traditional Jewish theology and law has always
been this: Is something "good" just because God asks us to do it? Or does
God ask us to do what is "good"? If the former is true, then we are
obligated to blindly follow any law that we believe is from God, even if the
result is immoral. We just say "Well, it seems immoral, but it must really
be moral since it is from God." However, the other traditional position is
that God Himself is constrained, as it were, by morality: God may not give
us an immoral order, and if we think that a rule leads to an immoral result,
then we must reinterpret the rule.
Contrary to what you have heard here, the former is not Orthodox, and the
latter is not Reform. In truth, both poisitions are part of a well-meaning
debate that has always existed within rabbinic Judaism. Perhaps this
excerpt from an essay by an esteemed Orthodox rabbi and philosopher will
"Morality, Halakha and the Jewish Tradition"
Rabbi Shubert Spero
Ktav, Yeshiva University Press, 1983, Library of Jewish Law and Ethics
Lecturer in Jewish Philosophy at cleveland College of Jewish Studies
Rabbi of Young Israel of Cleveland, Ohio
=== bein quote ===
In order to properly examine the relationship between Halakhah and morality
in Judaism, it is necessary that we back up a bit. For the Jew, the
effective source of the basic rules he is to follow in his behaviour is the
word of God as found in the Torah. These include moral imperatives, ritual
commands, and civil laws. The exegetical process called midrash was utilized
by the rabbis to "unpack" all of the implications of the written text, to
introduce oral traditions, to resolve disagreemts, and to arrive at
definitive rulings. The corpus of final and accepted rulings in all
questions of Jewish law came to be known as Halakhah. The word comes from
the root meaning "to walk" or "to go" and denotes a "way" or "norm" and
As we indicated earlier, those moral rules in the Pentateuch which are
particular and specific were explicated, elaborated, and developed by the
halakhic process in the same manner as were the ritual laws.(2) Indeed, not
only was the logic the same, but often the very same concept would have
application in both a problem of morality and a matter regarding Temple
procedure. (3) All of this, of course, is as expected. Moral rules are
mitzvot, and therefore are authoritative in terms of their source and
obligatory from the point of view of the agent. Moral rules in both their
positive and negative forms are meant to be observed in real life and ought
to be presented in the form of clear guidelines for behavior. This is what
Halakhah is designed to do. Hence, it is to be expected that the Jewish
moral code will be treated by ad wil find its final form, in Halakhah....
Is there a morality independent of Halakhah?
Further consideration of our material, however, leads to the conclusion that
while much of the moral content of Judaism is incorporated in the Halakhah
and there finds its fullest realization, certain special areas of
experience, for reasons we shall attempt to discover, seem to lie outside
the sphere of the Halakhah. The clearest evidence of this is to be found in
the concept of lifnim mi-shurat ha-din, usually rendered "beyond the line of
the law" or "beyond the measure of the law" or "beyond the strict law."
Thus, we find the teachings of Rabbi Yochanan: "Jerusalem was destroyed
because they based their judgment solely upon Torah law and did not act
lifnim mi-shurat ha-din." (6) On other occasions, the Talmud, in conscious
contrast to the din (law), speaks of a higher standard of behavior which it
calls "the standard of saintliness" or the rabbis may sometimes note, "the
spirit of the sages is pleased with him." (7)
....It has become rather popular over the last few decades to describe the
essence of traditional Judaism as halakhic Judaism, with emphasis upon the
unique role and overriding primacy of the Halakhah. It is to Halakhah, say
these publicists, that we are to look if we wish to find the philosophy of
Judaism, the aesthetics ofJudaism, and certainly the morality of Judaism.
(9) This is an exaggeration and, in a sense, a distortion. Yet there are
those who become so convinced of the all-pervasive role of Halakhah in
Judaism that they would strive very hard to make sure that everything a Jew
is supposed to do and believe, be it law, morality, custom, philosophy, or
even dimly perceived ideals, somehow belongs under the heading of Halakhah.
And I suppose you an stretch the term Halakhah until it covers anything you
want it to cover. (10) But to do this is to reduce the issue of the
relationship between Halakhah and morality to a semantic question. And this
is to obfuscate, when we should be trying to elucidate.
=== end quote ===
What I find so interesting about this statement is that Christian
missionaries make the same claim: That average Jews are totally gullible and
ignorant and that *the rabbis* are privy to all sorts of secret information,
which they are deliberately withholding from the other Jews.
> However, the good news is that this is not the traditional Jewish
> Contrary to what they claim, many of the Orthodox Jewish participants on
> this forum are quite ignorant of the fact that there were two very
> points of view within traditional Judaism, causing a debate which still
> exists to this day.
Not only have a number of the O posters on this forum learned in yeshiva and
not only does at least one of them (and maybe more) have semicha (Orthodox
rabbinical ordination), they learn from primary source material. I find it
fascinating that a poster who has never learned in yeshiva and whose primary
sources for Judaic information are English translations of tertiary source
material and the Jewish Encyclopedia continues to pretend to be more
knowledgable about Judaism than the O Jews.
1) Being a Jew and becoming more spiritual.
2) How #1 ties in with not eating animals.
3) "Modern" animal treatment and slaughter.
Lets not mix 'em up.
Robert had some interesting material to which he referred. The above quote
seems not informative. Comments on the material he quoted might have been
Interesting. If I may follow-up on this:
What if I simply held the belief that it is "wrong to kill animals for food." A
lot of people I know feel this way.
While you could always wait for them to die of old age before eating
them, that wouldn't be kosher either. :-) Seriously, the biggest
problem with that approach is that it still places you at odds with
the Torah, which specifically tells us that it's okay to eat animals
possessing particular characteristics (split hooves and cud), and
tells us how to kill them prior to eating. In fact, about the only
things lacking in Torah are recipes...
Well, I see what you're saying. Not being a vegetarian, that doesn't bother me
too much. But then again, let's say that as a member of a particular
profession, I have a whole body of beliefs pertaining to that--areas in which
it is common to say, "it is right to do X" and it is "wrong to do Y."
For example... let's say I am a veterinarian, and I say, I feel it is essential
that all "cats not used for breeding should be neutered to prevent
overpopulation, and it is wrong to allow cats to breed without restraint."
Would that be contrary to Jewish belief? Or perhaps I am a lawyer and I say "it
is wrong for a money judgment to be rewarded without X and Y taking place?"
This is interesting--things I have never thought of, frankly.Thanks.
>From a torah perspective, it is problematic, because you are saying it is
>"wrong" to do something which the torah permits. For Jews, God/the torah is
>the ultimate determiner of right or wrong, so by making such a statement,
>you would be saying your own sensibilities supercede those which came from
>God. It's a form of replacement theology.
To be fair:
1. It is only for *some* Jews that the Torah is the ultimate
determiner of what is right and wrong.
2. Even for those Jews, there is always an element of human
interpretation involved, as to precisely what God meant, and how we
are to apply it.
3. To argue that what was once permitted may nowadays be immoral is
not to claim that one's own sensibilities supersede God's word.
Rather, it is a claim that reasoning, which is God-given, may cause us
to interpret some things as being once permissible but not so in the
present, in a way that conforms to what we believe to be God's eternal
>While you could always wait for them to die of old age before eating
>them, that wouldn't be kosher either. :-) Seriously, the biggest
>problem with that approach is that it still places you at odds with
>the Torah, which specifically tells us that it's okay to eat animals
>possessing particular characteristics (split hooves and cud), and
>tells us how to kill them prior to eating. In fact, about the only
>things lacking in Torah are recipes...
Of course, many Jews would argue that what the Torah specifically says
is that these things were OK at the time.
If this is a joke...you'll have to tell me the punch line.
Nice to find somebody who can spell "supersede" :-)
henry dot goodman at virgin dot net
I don't like this any more than you do. Less.
So then if the person who broached the issue would get back to me privately I
would appreciate it. thanx
Cindy, your question is the answer!
I am reminded of a story about the Chazon Ish. When he had just
finished learning the aleph-beis he came home proudly and told his
father that he is a "baki" (expert) in the entire Talmud. When his
father expressed surprise, he said; "You can ask me _any_ letter you
want in the Talmud and I will know it's name".
When you are not aware of the depth and breadth of a subject, you can
easily convince yourself that your cursory knowlege is all there is!
It is a tremendous Mitzvah to always be happy! - Reb Nachman of Breslov