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Rationality and Halacha: The Halacha L’Moshe MiSinai of Treifos

Here is a link to an article in Ḥakirah, the Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought titled:

Rationality and Halacha: The Halacha L’Moshe MiSinai of Treifos



August 8, 2011 at 7:08 am Leave a comment



VOLUME 54 (1), 1999


AUTHOR:   L.S. Shore
                      Dept. of  Hormone Research, Kimron Veterinary Institute
                     P.O.B 12,  50250 BetDagan, Israel      


    Scientific research in veterinary science and halacha in the last 100 years has centered on four areas: physiology of shechita, problems of food quality resulting from the laws of kashrut, identification of piscine species, and reducing traifot caused by veterinary intervention and modern animal husbandry


Scientific and experimental approaches to halachic problems of veterinary interest  prior to the present century may be divided into four categories: (a) Direct observations: this includes performing animal dissections (Rabbanu Shimshon, 11th century; Rosh, 12th; Ravid, 12th ; R. (Rabbi). Y. Eybshutz, 17th; (for references see 1-4),  physiological experiments (R. Y. Lamperinti, 18th;  R. Y. Landau, 18th )  and  incidence surveys (R. Y. Iserlin, 15th); (b)  Use of general scientific literature (R. Y. Lipshutz, 19th; Malbim, 19th; R. Y. Epstein, 19th);  (c) Formal requests to scientific bodies (London Bet Din, 19th;  R. Eybshitz, 17th, [5]); and (d) Reliance on the minhag of Rabbi Shlomo Luria that diseased animals should be considered non-kosher even though there are no halachic problems. In its most developed form, this minhag was used to forbid any animal with a disease or abnormality, which was known to be fatal in sheep, cattle, or poultry and the ritual slaughterer was obligated to declare the meat non-kosher (even if the information was from a non-Jewish authority). The use of the minhag of Rabbi Shlomo Luria fell into disuse at the beginning of this century as it was considered that nowadays there are government veterinary regulations which forbid the slaughter of sick animals (4).

In 1894, the Orthodox Jewish Society inFrankfurtpublished an extraordinary document containing the opinions of over a hundred prominent European physiologists and veterinarians supporting the merits of shechita (6).  Among the most prominent were Rudolf Virchow (1821-1906), Ernst Hoppe-Seyler (1825-1895), and Emil Du Bois-Reymond (1818-1896). At about the same time, the earliest scientific publications dealing with shechita written by a physician, Isaac Dembo,   (1847?-1906) appeared (7,8) and the work was dedicated to Bois-Reymond. Two other papers, one dealing with the degree of exsanguination (Goltz, 1890) and the other on the measurement of ECG after slaughter appeared at this time (Kirilow, 1893), but the papers by Dembo had much more impact in giving the impression that kosher meat was of better quality (9).  Until the early 1950’s, there was little further interest in the scientific community in this kind of research. For example, one of the major technical developments, the

Weinberg slaughtering pen, was developed by a tailor, apparently solely on his own initiative (10,11). All these efforts were spurred by the campaign, which continues today, to outlaw shechita on humanitarian grounds. 

Modern scientific work (since 1960) on halachic problems of veterinary interest has been primarily concerned with (a) the physiology of shechita; (b) problems caused by halachic requirements in the preparation of food – defeathering and salting; (c) identification of species, and; (d) iatrogenic “treifa” – halachic problems caused by veterinary medicine and modern ways of raising animals – veterinary surgery, immunization, and factory farming.


Physiology of Shechita

There are three basic issues with respect to the physiology of shechita: (a) the stress of the restraining methods; (b) pain perception during and after the incision, and (c) latency of the onset of complete insensibility.  These topics have been the subject of extensive reviews (12-14).  Most recently, Dr. Levinger (9) published a book, Shechita in the Light of the Year 2000, which gives a comprehensive review of the work done in this field.

As mentioned above, the pioneering author in the scientific defense of shechita was Isaac A. Dembo (7,8). His major contribution was to show that shechita does not cause more pain than any other technique. This work was continued by Levinger (9,15-17), who was and continues to be the leading authority on veterinary problems of Kashrut.  Levinger attempted to define the loss of sensibility and the time of death by measuring the corneal reflexes, the drop in blood carotid and vertebral arterial pressure, and the heart rate and respiratory rate using the best available instrumentation.  Subsequent investigations were centered on the determination of death as measured by loss of sensibility by electroencephalograms (EEG) (“brain death”) (18,19); electrocorticograms (ECoG) and evoked cortical potentials (20,21); metabolites and blood gases (22); and cortisol and beta endorphin levels (18,23). 

The problem in some cattle of a prolonged consciousness after the initial cutting has been a cause of great concern and has been a major argument against shechita, especially inAustraliaandNew Zealand. The problem has been related to the unique artery,  “rete mirabile epiduris” , in cattle which allows blood to reach the brain from the vertebral column even when the carotid arteries are occluded or cut (12,24). However, this structure was found to have great anatomical variation and it is highly improbable that significant amounts of blood can reach the brain by this pathway (9,25). (The rete mirabile was considered by Galen to be the center of the soul and this belief persisted till the mid-14 th century when it was demonstrated this structure does not exist in man [26]).  Furthermore, several investigators were unable to demonstrate differences in time to loss of consciousness between cattle and sheep (which do not have a caudal rete) (19,20,27). The most recent research has shown that by using the proper slaughter apparatus (with the cow standing upright with a properly designed head restraint) and with proper handling,  the cow is apparently unaware of the throat being cut and collapses in 10 to 15 seconds (13). The rise in cortisol levels in head-restrained animals was minimal (23).  However, the lack of a basic understanding of what constitutes consciousness and pain in animals makes evaluation of this work difficult. Perhaps the techniques of positron emission topography combined with brain scanning and electromagnetic transducers for measuring blood flow will someday provide such an understanding.

A  related problem is occlusion of the carotid artery which would not allow rapid loss of blood from the brain.  It is not known what factors cause the spasmodic occlusion of the artery;  it is believed to be related to  stretching of the carotid and can be greatly reduced by correct slaughter procedures (13). 

It has generally been assumed by many consumers that kosher meat is of a better quality than non-kosher meat (9). (About 75% of purchasers of kosher deli products in theUSare not Jewish [28]). Dembo (8) suggested that this is due to the greater degree of exsanguination, which is affected by a variety of factors such as breed and age. Attempts to demonstrate that shechita results in better quality of meat, as measured by hemoglobin concentration, pH,  water content or bacterial count,  have been  inconclusive  (9, 29-31). 

Recently it was demonstrated that the commonly used pneumatic bolt gun injects brain tissue into lung (32) and other organs (T. Garland, personal communication). Whether this injected brain material could actually result in the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is highly speculative.



 Warm scalding (58÷C) or steam defeathering (62÷C without immersion) are prevalent industrial methods for defeathering. However, this presents the halachic problem of “cooking” the meat prior to the removal of blood so that cold scalding (maximal 7C÷) is used in the kosher meat industry. This presents two problems:  (1) poor defeathering and (2) employment of additional defeathering machinery with resultant mechanical damage to the skin.


In spite of research into the mechanism of feather attachment (33-36), the problem of poor defeathering remains. Methods to improve defeathering by cervical transection (35) or use of papain (34) have not been adopted by the industry.  Recently,  there has been shown some renewed interest in a modified cervical transection technique (M. Zaks, personal comm.). 


Damage to the carcass

Extensive work on bacterial contamination and the method of defeathering  has recently been reported (37-41). The authors found striking differences in skin topography using scanning electron microscopy and immunoflorescent dyes when various methods were compared. Conventional defeathering (hot scalding) results in a smooth skin surface to which bacteria are only loosely attached. However rough surfaces, in which bacteria become entrapped or embedded, are produced by both steam spraying and kosher defeathering. These rough surfaces are very different from each other. The rough surface produced by kosher defeathering is a result of the partial delamination of the epidermis during the extended picking procedures. The surface produced by steam spray defeathering is due to the total removal of the epidermis and exposure of collagen in the dermis. However, in various reports (37,38), there were fewer salmonella positive birds following koshering  than following steam or hot scalding defeathering, depending the conditions of the experiment.  On the other hand,  Listeria (a bacterium which is salt and cold resistant) contamination was higher in one kosher plant, which was related to the salting process.

Two additional problems of carcass damage are skin tears (42) and skin discoloration due to hemorrhage.  Although the industry has conducted projects to reduce these defects, these studies have not been reported in the general scientific literature. These problems are of great economic importance in countries with special classifications for the appearance of the carcass. 



The amount of salt in chicken meat varies greatly depending on the halachic stringency of the slaughterhouse and the site of sampling (43). In general, the salt content in kosher poultry is about 4 times above the level for non-salted poultry. The breast was found to have much less salt than the thigh and leg (44).  Soaking poultry meat in fresh water does not appreciably reduce the salt content (about 15%) (45). On the other hand, salting of red meat does not greatly increase the salt content as the salt penetrates less than 1 cm (J. Regenstein, personal comm.). Recently, the problem of pollution by high salt effluents from slaughterhouses has become a concern.


Identification of species

Identification of species has primarily centered on fish. The main problem is whether the fish has “kosher” scales (ctenoid or

cycloid as opposed to ganoid or placoid) at some point in its life cycle and whether the scales can be removed with reasonable force without tearing the skin. Levinger (17) and Atz (46) have published extensive lists of kosher and non-kosher fish.  A related problem is the extent to which non-kosher fish are caught and kept on board with kosher fish and this was the subject of a recent industrial survey of tuna fishing.  Although it was demonstrated 200 years ago (47) that chemical methods can be used to determine the degree to which scales can be removed, this technique has not met with wide acceptance. (The debate about whether swordfish or eels are kosher has engendered some scientific discussion, but is primarily a halachic concern.)


Iatrogenic “traifot”

Some of the various veterinary procedures which can result in traifot have been reviewed by Levinger (17,48). It is not known today what the effect of veterinary intervention is on the slaughterhouse incidence of traifot. Recently there was a great deal of discussion on traifot caused by veterinary surgery, primarily in cases of left displaced abomasum and bloat. The problem is related more to the production of “Chalav Yisrael” milk than to post-mortem traifot.  The syndrome of left displaced abomasum has increased in recent years both in the US and Europe, probably due to the higher nutritional level associated with high milk yielding cows (49,50) . In Israel it may be related to extensive use as feed of industrial surpluses, such as molasses. However, Israeli veterinarians are well aware of the problem and perform surgery using the “Dutch” method, which does not cause traifot. Interestingly, most (80%) cases of displace abomasum inIsraeloccur after the switch from wheat silage to corn silage and corn-based feeds which occurs before Passover (U. Bargai, personal communication). Whether wheat silage is really hamatz, has been the subject of a recent work by Zaks et al. [51].



The problem of immunization causing traifot has been a subject of heated debate between the Rabbinical and Veterinary communities inIsraelfor some time. Although generally the inoculations are harmless, inoculations in the thigh, neck, or wing have been reported to cause some local damage (52).  Fortunately, the invention of “in ovo” injection of vaccines (53) promises to overcome this problem.  This process, which has only recently become commercially available, is being adopted by Israeli hatcheries. 

The extent to which traifot in cattle are caused by modern husbandry is largely unknown.  In surveys performed inIsraelin 1970-1971, the two principal types of traifot in cattle were found to be foreign objects causing perforation of the stomach wall and lung adhesions (16).  The problem of foreign object perforation can be greatly reduced by the placement of magnets in the reticulum (54). Although magnets are widely used inIsrael, the extent that this has reduced traifot has not been documented.


Damage to the esophagus in force-fed geese was the subject of some studies by Levinger (55,56). He found that attention  to optimal pressure, the correct length of the tube and the nature of the material used for tubing can greatly reduce the damage to the esophagus.  In chickens, the problem of leg inflammation, which causes damage to tendons of the lower leg (Zomet Hagidim), has received major attention from the Israeli Rabbinical establishment. It is believed that this is a result of raising chickens on wire floors, since the syndrome is not seen in chickens raised on deep litter. Industrial surveys inIsraelindicate that in some flocks the incidence of damaged tendons can reach 15-20% (57).

In summary, scientific studies dealing with veterinary problems in the kosher meat and poultry industry today can be characterized as sporadic, generally out-of-date, and grossly underreported. Attempts by Dr. Levinger inIsraelin the early 1970’s  to develop a scientific basis for research into these problems was not continued due to lack of funding. Considering that the rapidly growing kosher food market is one of the great success stories of recent decades, this policy, or lack of it, on the part of funding agencies can at best be characterized as short sighted.  This is especially so as the kosher meat industry must meet the new environmental, hygienic, and food quality requirements which will seriously challenge its profitability in the near future (58).

Scientific research on problems of halacha of veterinary interest is just one area of halachic problems of concern to the veterinarian.  Other topics of interest include: cruelty to animals, treatment of animals on Shabbat and Holidays, halachic requirements in raising and slaughtering livestock (e.g. firstborn calf, milking on Shabbat) and problems of concern to the kosher consumer (e.g. parasites in fish, blood spots in eggs).



I would like to thank Dr. Y. Klinger, Director of the Kimron Veterinary Institute, Dr. J. Regenstein,CornellUniversityand Dr. I. Levinger for their invaluable assistance in the preparation of this document. 



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August 8, 2011 at 6:25 am Leave a comment

רחמיו על כל מעשיו / יעל שמש

תעשיית הבשר היום רחוקה מאוד מדרישת התורה להתייחס אל בעלי החי באופן אינדיבידואלי ורגיש. אף שהדברים נראים כמובנים מאליהם, השיקול של צער בעלי חיים כמעט אינו תופס מקום בפסיקה ההלכתית


יש הטוענים שגישות צמחוניות ואקולוגיות צריכות להיות בין האחרונות בסדרי העדיפות, מאחר שאת המאמץ המוסרי יש לרכז בדאגה לזכויות בני אדם וליחסים שבין אדם לחברו. עדיף בעיניהם שאת התסכולים והאלימות הטבעית יוציא האדם באכילתם של בעלי חיים, ולא באלימות אחד כלפי השני. דברים אלו אינם נכונים, ואף מנוגדים לדרכה של תורה.

האידיאולוגיה הצמחונית והטבעונית פירושה הרחבת מעגל החמלה האנושית, ואין היא באה על חשבון חמלה כלפי המין האנושי, אלא להפך! “טוב ה’ לכל ורחמיו על כל מעשיו”, נאמר בתהלים (קמה, ט), ולא עולה בדעתנו להאשים את הקב”ה שחמלתו כלפי ברואיו שאינם משתייכים למין האנושי היא על חשבון חמלתו כלפי ברואי ה’ האנושיים. למעשה, יש התאמה ברורה בין רגישות לסבל בעלי החיים לרגישות לסבל האנושי, ורבים מבין הצמחונים והטבעונים, הרבה מעבר למשקלם היחסי בחברה, פועלים גם למען אוכלוסיות חלשות בחברה האנושית.

אין היתר להתעלל

גישה צמחונית-טבעונית הולמת את רוח ההלכה, משום שגם אם התירה לנו התורה לאכול בשר בעלי חיים (לפי הסברו של הראי”ה קוק ב’חזון הצמחונות והשלום’ ההיתר ניתן באי רצון ומתוך התפשרות עם הטבע האנושי), היא לא התירה לנו להתעלל בהם. מניעת צער בעלי חיים היא חובה הלכתית. לפי הגמרא זוהי מצווה מדאורייתא (בבלי בבא מציעא לב ע”ב), וכך פסקו רוב הראשונים. אישוש לקביעה זו מובא, בדרך כלל, ממצוות פריקה (שמות כג, ה; דברים כב, ד), ויש הלמדים אותה מאיסור חסימת שור בדישו (דברים כה, ד). ואילו הרמב”ם (מורה נבוכים ג יז) מסתמך לא על אחת מן המצוות שבתורה, אלא על תוכחת ה’ כלפי בלעם: “על מה הכית את אתנך” (במדבר כב, לב). חשיבותה של מצוות צער בעלי חיים ביהדות ניכרת גם בכך שיש בה היבט אוניברסלי, שהרי בין שבע מצוות בני נח כלול גם איסור אבר מן החי (בבלי, סנהדרין נו ע”א ועוד).

ההלכה מכירה בכך שלבעלי החיים יש צרכים והיא מורה להתחשב בהם. כך למשל, הטעם שניתן בפרשת משפטים למצוות שמירת יום השבת הוא: “למען ינוח שורך וחמֹרך, וינפש בן אמתך והגר” (שמות כג, יב). כלומר, התורה מגִנה על זכותם של בעלי החיים ליום מנוחה, כפי שהיא מגנה על זכותם של היסודות החלשים והמנוצלים בחברה האנושית – בן האמה והגר.

ר’ אלעזר הקפר קבע ש”אין אדם רשאי ליקח לו בהמה חיה ועוף אלא אם כן התקין להן מזונות” (ירושלמי, יבמות טו, ג; וכן בכתובות ד, ח). בנוסף, ההלכה מחייבת להאכיל את בעלי החיים שברשות האדם קודם שיאכל האדם עצמו. חז”ל פירשו את לשון הברכה שבפסוק “ונתתי עשב בשדך לבהמתך ואכלת ושבעת” (דברים יא, טו) כהוראה התנהגותית: “אסור לאדם שיאכל קודם שייתן מאכל לבהמתו, שנאמר ‘ונתתי עשב בשדך לבהמתך’ והדר ‘ואכלת ושבעת'” (בבלי, ברכות מ ע”א).

יתרה מזאת, ההלכה לא הצטמצמה לצרכים הפיזיים, הבסיסיים וההכרחיים של בעלי החיים, אלא התחשבה גם בצרכיהם הנפשיים, כפי שמעידה הבהרת המכילתא בנוגע להוראת התורה בדבר שביתת בהמות ביום השבת, שיש להניח לבעל החיים “להיות תולש מן הקרקע ואוכל” ואין לכלוא אותו, משום שכליאה אינה נחשבת למנוחה אלא לצער (מכילתא, משפטים כ). כך פירשו גם רש”י ומלבי”ם על אתר, וזה האחרון אף חידד את ההבנה לגבי משמעות המונח מנוחה: “ועם מנוחה משתתף גם נחת רוח הפנימי”.

ממקורות שונים עולה שיש להתייחס לבעלי החיים כאל אינדיבידואלים, ולספק את הצרכים המיוחדים שלהם. כך למשל עולה מהפסוק “יודע צדיק נפש בהמתו” (משלי יב, י), וכן מהמדרש המתאר את משה ואת דוד כרועים מסורים המעניקים לכל אחד ואחד מבני הצאן יחס אישי. תכונה זו שלהם היא שהפכה אותם בעיני ה’ לראויים להנהיג את עם ישראל (שמות רבה ב, ב).

שידוד מערכות הלכתי

באופן מצער, הדרישה לראות את בעלי החיים כיצורים אינדיבידואליים שיש להתחשב בצורכיהם, והמצווה להימנע מצער בעלי חיים, מנותקות לחלוטין מן המתרחש בתעשיות המזון המודרניות המתייחסות לבעלי החיים כאל מוצר, מכשיר להפקת רווחים, ולא כאל יצורים חשים, ברואי ה’. משום כך, תעשיות אלו לא מספקות להם את תנאי הקיום המינימליים, הנדרשים גם לפי ההלכה.

האומנם יעלה על הדעת שההלכה מתירה לצופף תרנגולות מטילות באופן שכל חייה התרנגולת אינה מסוגלת לזוז ממקומה או לפרוש את כנפיה? האם היא מתירה את המתתם האיטית והמיוסרת של כל האפרוחים הזכרים מזן מטילות, המושלכים לשקית, זה על גב זה, מוחצים את אחיהם לצרה ומתים מחנק? האם היא מתירה את העיוותים הגנטיים בפטמים (עופות בתעשיית הבשר), כדי שיפתחו חזה ענק ורגליים קצרות, עובדה הגורמת לקריסת גופם? וכאשר העופות האומללים הללו, שחוו רק סבל בחייהם הקצרים, עולים על שולחן השבת, האם זה באמת מכבד את השבת, או שמא יש כאן שידוד מערכות ערכי והלכתי? אלו שאלות שכל אדם בעל מצפון, הכרה דתית ומחויבות להלכה צריך לשאול את עצמו ואף להשיב על השאלה.

הרב ד”ר בנימין לאו התייחס לסוגיית צער בעלי חיים, וקבע שהיא צריכה להיות שיקול בפסיקה ההלכתית בנוגע לכשרות המוצר (‘במעגלי צדק’, גיליון א). למרבה הצער, אף שהדברים נראים כמובנים מאליהם, השיקול של צער בעלי חיים כמעט אינו תופס מקום בפסיקה ההלכתית. כאשר אני שואלת עצמי כיצד הגענו למצב המצער והתמוה הזה, ייתכן שיש מענה חלקי בתחושה שיש דברים חשובים ובוערים יותר על סדר היום. לכך בוודאי מצטרפת כוחה של ההדחקה האנושית המסוגלת לחולל נפלאות. אולם מהרבנים, כמנהיגי הציבור, אני מצפה שלא יאפשרו להדחקה לדחוק את מצוות צער בעלי חיים מסדר היום הפרטי ומסדר היום הציבורי, וישמיעו קול צלול וברור למען בעלי החיים, שהרי הם, כידוע, אינם מסוגלים להשמיע את קולם.

לא לחינם קבע ר’ שמשון רפאל הירש שאין יצורים הזקוקים להגנת הקב”ה כמו בעלי החיים, משום שהאדם, ברדיפתו אחר הבצע, שוכח “כי כאדם כבהמה גם היא תחוש ותרגיש כל חיתוך, דחיפה, הכאה, כובד עמל רב, פחד ובהלה, רעב וצימאון” (ספר חורב, מערכת “החוקים”, ה, א עמ’ 90). יתר על כן, בפירושו לפסוק “אדם ובהמה תושיע ה'” (תהילים ל, ז) הבהיר רש”ר הירש: “לאדם ולבהמה רוצה ה’ להמציא חיים אמיתיים מלאי אושר”. כמה רחוקים אנו מהתוכנית הא-לוהית בכל הנוגע לבעלי החיים.

לתפיסתי, ברבים מן המאבקים למען בעלי חיים (ואף למען הסביבה), על הציבור הדתי לצעוד כחלוץ בראש המחנה, ולא להשתרך מאחור, או – גרוע מכך – להיעלם ולהיאלם. להזכירנו: המצווה למנוע צער מבעלי חיים היא חובה מוסרית והלכתית כאחד, והיא אכן צריכה להיות שיקול בפסיקה ההלכתית – כמו גם שיקול בבחירות האישיות של כל אחד ואחת מאיתנו.

ד”ר יעל שמש היא חברת המחלקה לתנ”ך באוניברסיטת בר-אילן

פורסם במוסף ‘שבת’, ‘מקור ראשון’, ה’ באב תשע”א, 5.8.2011

August 7, 2011 at 8:26 am Leave a comment

Rabbi Fred Greene’s annotated bibliography of “Judaism and Animals”


Berman, Louis A. Vegetarianism and the Jewish Tradition. New York: KTAV, 1982.

Cohen, Noah. Tsa’ar Ba’ale Hayim: The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Its Bases, Development and Legislation in Hebrew Literature.

Cohen sees this doctrine throughout Jewish literature in order to establish a coherent system of human legislation whose purpose is to defend the “sub-human” creation and to make humans more humane.


Kalechofsky, Roberta, ed. Judaism & Animal Rights: Classical & Contemporary Responses. Marblehead, Mass.: Micah Publications, 1992.

A collection of even-handed essays from rabbis, activists and scholars, including Aviva Cantor, Shlomo Riskin, Richard Schwartz, Louis Berman, Ronald Androphy, Marjorie Cramer, among others. Micah Publications is the publishing arm of Jews for Animal Rights. 255 Humphrey St., Marblehead, MA 01945.


Kalechofsky, Roberta, ed. Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition. Marblehead, MA: Micah Publications, 1995.

Essays by Abraham Isaac Kook, Everett Gendler, Arthur Green, David Rosen, Harold Schulweis, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, among others.


Klagsburn, Francine. Voices of Wisdom. “Showing Kindness to Animals.” Pantheon Books, 1980: 457-461.

Lee, Rena. Agnon Vehatzimchanut [Agnon and Vegetarianism : Studies in the Work of Shai Agnon from the Vegetarian Viewpoint.] Tel Aviv: Reshafim Ltd., 1993. (Hebrew)

Lee explores Agnon’s vegetarianism throughout his work. Agnon, she writes, condones the slaughter of animals for the purpose of eating meat, as long as it is according to hilchot shechitah. Both Agnon and Rabbi A. I. Kook maintain that the restrictive laws of eating meat serve as an interim solution for the meat eating world, i.e. the least of evils of meat must be eaten. See his stories, Kissuy Ha’adam (“The Covering of the Blood”), Ad Hena (“Until Now”), Zivchey Metim (“Sacrifices of the Dead”), and Hachnasat Kallah (“The Bridal Canopy”).


Rosen, Steven. Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World Religions. New York: Bala Books, 1987. (Preface by Isaac Bashevis Singer.)

Schochet, Elijah Judah. Animal Life in Jewish Tradition: Attitudes and Relationships. NY: Ktav Publishing House, 1984.

Schwartz, Richard. Judaism and Vegetarianism. Florida: Exposition Press, 1982.

Toperof, Shlomo Pesach. The Animal Kingdom in Jewish Thought. New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1995.



Abrams, Judith Z. & Steven A. Abrams. “Responsa: May animals be used for medical research to aid humans?” Moment. December 1994.

“Animals, Cruelty To,” Encyclopeadia Judaica.

Artson, Bradley Shavit. “Tza’ar Ba’alei Hayyim: Compassion to Animals.” The Jewish Spectator, Winter 1991-92.

Artson articulates two contemporary Jewish perspectives about kindness to animals — one is the view that there is a difference between the human and non-human animal; the second is that there is a reasonable relationship between humanity and the animal world in which human beings must pursue acceptable ethical behavior. Thus, he calls for an end to cruelty to animals because we are God’s agents responsible to minimize their pain.


Bleich, J. David. “Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature: I. Vegetarianism and Judaism & II. Meat on Yom Tov.” Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Thought. Date not cited, 1989. pp. 82-90.

Bleich is a renown halachacist in the Orthodox community. His perspective is that since vegetarianism is not directly and definitively supported within the corpus of the Written or Oral Law, then it is not an ethical desideratum not part of normative Jewish practice.


Golinkin, David. “Responsa: Is it permissible for Jews to purchase and eat veal / to raise veal calves?” Moment. Feb. 1993: 26-27.

Golinkin was chair of the Va’ad Halachah of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel. He explores treatment of veal calves and how that is antithetical to the doctrine of tza’ar ba’alei chayim.


Jacobs, Sidney. “Who Shall Live? Who Shall Die: Jews, Judaism and Animal Rights.” The Animals’ Agenda. October 1989.

Karas, Phyllis Klasky. “Is Kosher Slaughtering Inhumane?” Moment. February 1991. [See also Phyllis Klasky Karas. “Behind the Kosher Slaughtering Controversy.” The Jewish Journal. Jan. 26-Feb. 1, year?.]

Karas addresses current methods of slaughter and the living conditions of animals prior to slaughter. Her conclusions are that less painful methods of slaughtering animals are available to the Jewish community, although alternative methods are too costly to be implemented.


Kook, Abraham Isaac. “Fragments of Light: A View as to the Reasons for the Commandments” in Abraham Isaac Kook: The Lights of Penitence, the Moral Principles, Lights of Holiness, Essays, Letters, and Poems. Translation by Ben Zion Bokser. New York: Paulist Press, 1978.

Levy, Ze’ev. “Ethical Issues of Animal Welfare in Jewish Thought.” Judaism. Winter 1996.

Levy, a professor of philosophy at Haifa University, objectively explores the status of animals in Jewish thought.


Plaut, W. Gunther. “Steak and Sacrifices,” The Jerusalem Report. April 7, 1994.

Plaut’s Commentary on Parashat Tzav, Levitcus 6-8.

Rosenthal, Edward. “Ethical Vegetarianism: The Perspectives of a Reform Jew.” CCAR Journal. Spring 1992: 49-60.

Rosenthal reviews his own transition to vegetarianism from a Jewish viewpoint. He considers vegetarianism, not only as an important statement about kashrut, but from a Reform perspective, an ethical mitzvah.


Schulweis, Harold M. “Thou Shalt Eat Vegetables,” Reform Judaism. Summer 1995:22ff.

Schulweis suggests we should consider that our kashrut be based on ethics. A vegetarian diet, while difficult, is the highest form of following God’s dietary laws. While eating meat is certainly permitted, he suggests that we voluntarily cut milk out of our diets — at least to cut meat out of Shabbat.


Shapiro, Zachary R. (HUC-Cin.) Thesis: “Fables in Jewish Writing: A Perspective on the Ethical Dimensions of Animal Literature

© Fred Greene, April 6, 2000

August 7, 2011 at 8:23 am Leave a comment

Tsa’ar Ba’ale Hayim the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Its Bases, Development and Legislation in Hebrew Literature

“…the material pertaining to “Tsa’ar Ba’ale Hayim” will be treated in two distinct books. Book I will deal with its bases and development as reflected in the Biblical, midrashic and talmudic literature; Book II will examine its practical application and will deal with the actual Biblical and post-Biblical legislation relating to the treatment of the beast. Through them, it is hoped, facts and truths will once again be placed in their proper perspective and that the findings based on a scientific examination of the sources investigated will categorically support the contention that in Judaism, kindness and the prevention of cruelty to animals is a Biblical concept and therefore embodied in the very structure of Israel’s institutional life. Book I: Bases and Development in Biblical, Midrashic and Talmudic Literature. Part I, Relationship between God and Beast. Part II, Relationship between Man and Beast. Book II: Legislation and Development in Biblical and Post-Biblical Literature. Part III, Treatment of the Beast. This was a dissertation submitted to the faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of the Catholic University of America in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.”

Purchase at or


August 7, 2011 at 8:21 am Leave a comment