1. If God wanted us to have vegetarian diets and not harm animals, why were the Biblical sacrificial services established?
During the time of Moses, it was the general practice among all nations to worship by means of sacrifice. There were many associated idolatrous practices. The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides stated that God did not command the Israelites to give up and discontinue all these manners of service because "to obey such a commandment would have been contrary to the nature of man, who generally cleaves to that to which he is used," For this reason, ...
There has recently been much interest in animal issues, especially related to diet, animal experimentation, and the wearing of fur. What should be the reaction of Jews to this subject? The following, in question and answer form, provides some background, and perhaps will help begin a respectful dialogue on this increasingly important topic.
1. What does Judaism teach about the proper treatment of animals?
Judaism teaches that we are forbidden to be cruel to animals and that we must treat them with compassion. Since animals are part of God's creation, people have ...
1. What is Jewish about vegetarianism and veganism?
Note that when the word vegetarianism is used below it implies both vegetarianism and veganism. he word vegetarian implies both vegetarian and vegan.
All the reasons for becoming vegetarian can be connected to important Jewish values. These include taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, helping hungry people, and seeking and pursuing peace. As later responses indicate, many teachings in the Torah, the Talmud, and other sacred Jewish texts can ...
This is factsheet five of a series of five factsheets related to Jewish teachings related to vegetarianism.
A. Jewish Teachings About Reducing Hunger
On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, while Jews are fasting and praying for a good year, we read in the haftorah the words of the Prophet Isaiah that fasting and prayers are not sufficient; we must work to end oppression and provide food for needy people:
"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the chains of wickedness, to undo the bonds of oppression, and to let the ...
This is Factsheet four of a series of five fact sheets on Jewish teachings related to vegetarianism.
A. Jewish Teachings on Resource Conservation
The prohibition against wasting or unnecessarily destroying anything of value, bal tashchit, ("thou shalt not destroy") is based on the following Torah statement:
"When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy (lo tashchit) the trees thereof by wielding an ax against them; for you may eat of them but you shall not cut them down; for is the ...
This is the third factsheet in a series of five
A. Jewish Environmental Teachings
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. (Psalm 24:10
The Talmudic sages assert that people's role is to enhance the world as "co-partners of God in the work of creation."(Shabbat 7a) They indicate great concern about preserving the environment and preventing pollution. They state: "It is forbidden to live in a town which has no garden or greenery" (Kiddushin 66a). Threshing floors had to be placed far enough from a town so that it would not be dirtied by chaff carried by ...
This is factsheet 2 of a series of five factsheets
A. Jewish Teachings Regarding Animals
God's tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalms 145:9).
The righteous person regards the life of his/her animal. (Proverbs 12:10)
It is prohibited to kill an animal with its young on the same day, in order that people should be restrained and prevented from killing the two together in such a manner that the young is slain in the sight of the mother; for the pain of animals under such circumstances is very great. There is no difference in this case between the pain of ...
A. Some Jewish Teachings on Health
v'nishmartem meod l'nafshotechem ("Be extremely protective of your lives.") (Deuteronomy 4:15).
You may not in any way weaken your health or shorten your life. Only if the body is healthy is it an efficient instrument for the spirit's activity....Therefore you should avoid everything which might possibly injure your health.... And the law asks you to be even more circumspect in avoiding danger to life and limb than in the avoidance of other transgressions. (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Horeb, Chapter 62, Section 428)
Is the Sixth Commandment
"Thou Shalt Not Kill" or
"Thou Shalt Not Murder"?
Vegetarian and vegan activists are increasingly convinced that a shift away from animal-free diets is a societal imperative because of the significant negative health and environmental effects of such dietse, and a religious imperative because the production and consumption of animal products violate basic religious mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people. Because of their strong ...
In promoting vegetarianism since 1977, I have been arguing that Jews have a choice as to whether or not to be vegetarians. In support of the view that Jews need not eat meat today is the Talmud (Pesachim 109a states that since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, Jews are not required to eat meat in order to rejoice on festivals), scholarly articles by Rabbi Alfred Cohen and Rabbi J. David Bleich that indicate additional sources and arguments supporting the view that Jews do not need to eat meat in this period, and the fact that several Chief Rabbis are strict ...
While there has been recent progress on Jewish consideration of environmental and vegetarian issues, much more needs to be done. One approach is to show how central these issues are in the Jewish tradition. This article discusses several statements in the Shabbat morning prayers that point to Judaism's great concern about animals and the environment.
In the Baruch Sheh'amar prayer, it states that, "Blessed is the One (God) Who has compassion on the earth; blessed is the One Who has compassion on the creatures [animals and people]". Since Judaism teaches that ...
Judaism places much stress on performing mitzvot, carrying out God's commandments. However, a "mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah" - a mitzvah based on an aveirah (sin or "illegitimate means") - is forbidden and is not considered a mitzvah. For example, if one uses a stolen lulav and esrog on Sukkot, it is not a proper mitzvah. Similarly, if money is stolen, it cannot be used to give tzedakah (charity). In fact, the sages indicate that it is better not to do the mitzvah at all than to do a mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah.
Eating meat is arguably a mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah, ...
Spirituality has led to a growing awareness of the unity of all beings, of our fundamental interconnectedness. For some this reflection has stayed on the level of purely personal enlightenment without much manifestation in behavior, but for others this understanding has led to a greater sense of responsibility, first toward all other human beings, and second toward animals. One form that this awareness takes is a growing move toward vegetarianism and veganism.
No surprise, then, that the Jewish renewal consciousness that increasingly manifests in all the various ...
Take a good look at American society today and you see both dysfunctional, shortsighted, thinking, and, if you look, you can see a new kind of thinking that takes the whole picture into account. On the one hand we have the heartbreaking and sickening epidemic of mass shootings that is only getting worse in our country today. You would think that this would now, finally, bring about an awakening to the well documented conclusion that we need better laws to control the number of guns and who wields them. The evidence is clear: The U.S. has many more mass shootings than other ...
Introduction: Many Jews think that vegetarianism and animal rights issues are not part of basic Judaism. To counter this belief the following quotations of important rabbis are presented.
Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael
While not a vegetarian, Rabbi Hirsch, one of the most important Orthodox rabbis of the 19th century, expressed very eloquently and powerfully ideas based on Torah values that are consistent with vegetarianism and seem to be inconsistent with realities of modern intensive livestock agriculture and the consumption of ...
This is Chapter 7 of the 2nd edition of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values t Help Heal Our Imperilled Planet."
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." — Dwight D. Eisenhower
"And the work of righteousness shall be peace; And the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever." — Isaiah 32:17
"Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an ...
This article was originally written years ago, but the basic nutrition facts are still valid.
CAUTION: The questions and answers below aim to stimulate consideration and discussion of issues related to diet and nutrition. They are not meant to take the place of professionsl diagnosis and advice. Hence, do not change medicines or other medical practices without the advice of a physician knowledgable about the effects of dietary changes.
1. How can people get key facts about nutrition and improved diets? The more information one has about health and nutrition the ...
People are increasingly concerned about adopting healthier diets. However, many are prevented from necessary changes because of myths about certain nutrients. For example, it is the common wisdom that one should eat ample amounts of meat in order to get adequate protein and large amounts of dairy products in order to get adequate calcium to avoid osteoporosis.
But, please consider the following: Countries with the highest consumption of dairy products, such as the United States, Sweden, Finland, and Israel also have the greatest incidence of female osteoporosis. ...
There have been two major health studies in recent years that have the potential to radically affect medical practice. They dramatically show how dietary changes and other lifestyle changes can prevent and in some cases reverse diseases.
The first study, the Lifestyle Heart Trial, was conducted by Dean Ornish, M. D. of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Salusito, California, and his medical colleagues. It's aim was to study if changes in diet, exercise, and stress levels can unblock clogged arteries and save lives, without the use of expensive surgical ...
The dietary laws are intended to teach us compassion and lead us gently to vegetarianism. (Rabbi Shlomo Riskin)1
JUDAISM MANDATES COMPASSION, NOT JUST FOR JEWS, but for the stranger, and even for enemies; not just for people, but for all of God’s creatures. Compassion is one of the characteristics associated with being a descendant of Abraham, the first Jew. Jews are to consider the welfare of animals and to avoid tsa’ar ba’alei chayim, inflicting pain on any living creature.
Judaism stresses the preservation of life and health. This is so important that if ...