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Torah Attitude: Parashas Vayikra/HaChodesh: Kosher animals feel no pain

Summary

When Mashiach arrives, all nations will live in peace and prosperity, and everyone will be able to grow intellectually and spiritually. Some vegetarians and advocates for animal rights have a problem to justify slaughtering animals for human consumption, and even more so for offerings that they do not understand. The Prophet Ezekiel writes in great detail how the future Temple shall be built, and how the offerings shall be brought at the inauguration and further. Adam and Eve were the last ones to be created. They were created one at a time to teach the importance of every single individual, and so that every person should feel that the whole world was created just for "me". Rashi points out that prior to the Flood man was not permitted to kill animals for human consumption. We do not find any explicit instructions in the Torah how to slaughter animals. The laws of shechita ensure that there is virtually no pain to the animal. Modern-day scientists have made an incredible discovery of a major difference in the way the blood flows in the species that are kosher and those that are not. Although Adam and Eve and their descendants were not permitted to eat meat they were allowed to bring animal offerings to G'd. Why does G'd command us in the Torah in this and next week's parshios to bring animal offerings?

Arrival of Mashiach

Last week we discussed how the world will be a better place to live in when Mashiach arrives. All nations will live in peace and prosperity, and everyone will be able to grow intellectually and spiritually. All of mankind will accept G'd as the Sovereign Ruler of the world and the Jewish people will be able to reach their full potential under the rulership of Mashiach.

Vegetarians and advocates for animal rights

Everyone understands that this is something to look forward to and eagerly await. But do we all look forward to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem with the daily offerings? Some people find it difficult to imagine that this will take place again when Mashiach comes. Especially some vegetarians and advocates for animal rights have a problem to justify slaughtering animals for human consumption, and even more so for offerings that they do not understand.

Ezekiel and Temple

However, the Prophet Ezekiel writes in great detail (Chapters 40-46) how the future Temple shall be built, and how the offerings shall be brought at the inauguration (see 40:18-26) and further (40:27). So let us see try to gain an insight and better understand the purpose of the offerings that we shall again bring once the Temple has been erected.

World created for "me"

At the time of creation, Adam and Eve were the last ones to be created. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 38a) teaches various reasons why G'd waited with the creation of man till the end. One reason, says the Talmud, was to ensure that everything else was ready for them as soon as they were created. The Talmud (ibid 37a) further discusses why every other species was created male and female simultaneously but only by man do we find that G'd first created Adam and only afterwards Eve. This, says the Talmud, is to teach the importance of every single individual, and so that every person should feel that the whole world was created just for "me".

Not permitted to kill animals for human consumption

The Midrash Rabbah (Koheles 7:13) describes how G'd showed Adam all the various trees in the Garden of Eden and said to him, "See how beautiful and good they all are. Everything that I created, I created just for you." At that point G'd put man in charge of all creation, as it says (Bereishis 1:27-28): "And G'd created man male and female And G'd blessed them and said,' fill the earth and conquer it, and rule over the fish of the sea, the bird of the sky and every living being that moves on the earth.'" But although man was made the master of all living beings, Rashi points out that prior to the Flood man was not permitted to kill animals for human consumption. Only after the Flood did G'd say to Noah and his sons (Bereishis 9:3): "Every moving being that is alive shall be for you to eat, like the green herb I have given you everything." At this point G'd added the seventh Noachide commandment, that pertains to all of mankind, and instructed Noah and his sons (ibid 4): "But flesh with its blood in its soul you may not eat." With this man was prohibited from eating any part of a live animal but was not instructed how to slaughter.

No slaughter instructions

As a matter of fact, we do not find any explicit instructions in the Torah how to slaughter animals. The Talmud (Chulin 28a) teaches that these instructions were part of the laws given to Moses at Mount Sinai, just like the instruction how to make tefillin. The Torah only hints at these instructions when it says (Devarim 12:21): "And you shall slaughter from your cattle and your flocks as I have commanded you." [emphasis added].

No pain to animal

The laws of shechita ensure that there is virtually no pain to the animal. The shechita method of slaughtering obligates the Shochet who slaughters to use an extremely sharp knife with a completely smooth blade and to make a very fast cut. Such a sharp and smooth cut is not felt and creates no pain, as the brain does not have sufficient time to register the cut and respond to it. However, all animals have front and back arteries that carry blood to the brain, so how does the shechita, that only cut the carotid arteries in the front, prevent the animal from experiencing pain, since the vertebral arteries at the back of the neck continue to flow?

Difference between kosher and non-kosher animals

Rabbi Zamir Cohen, in his book The Coming Revolution - Science Discovers the Truths of the Bible, quotes modern day scientists that have made an incredible discovery of a major difference in the way the blood flows in the species that are kosher and those that are not. In non-kosher mammals, the vertebral arteries flow directly to the brain through the rete mirabile. However, in cloven-hoofed, cud-chewing mammals and permitted foul, the vertebral arteries drain into the carotid artery and do not have any direct flow to the brain. There will therefore be an immediate drop in blood pressure at the time of shechita that causes the animal to lose consciousness, thus feeling no pain.

Animal offerings allowed

Although Adam and Eve and their descendants were not permitted to eat meat they were allowed to bring animal offerings to G'd. In this week's parasha, the Torah gives a detailed account of different offerings. The parasha starts with G'd telling Moses to instruct the Jewish people that if someone brings an offering from animals, he shall bring it from the cattle or flock. In general the Torah would use the Hebrew word "ish" that translates as "man". However, here the Torah uses the Hebrew word "adam". Rashi quotes the Midrash Rabbah (Vayikra 2:7) that explains that this comes to teach that anyone who wants to bring an offering should emulate Adam. The offerings that Adam bought were surely his, as no one besides his wife Eve existed. In the same way one must make sure that one's offering is truthfully one's own and not stolen.

Why commanded to bring animal offerings?

In Parashas Bereishis (4:3-4) the Torah relates the two offerings of Cain and Abel, and how G'd accepted Abel's offering that he brought from his flock. G'd's acceptance of Abel's animal offering seems to contradict what it says in Tehillim (50:1 and 13-14): "G'd spoke Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer your confessions to G'd." Even more so, why does G'd command us in the Torah in this and next week's parshios to bring animal offerings? G'd willing we shall try to clarify this next week.

These words were based on a talk given by Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto.

These words were based on a talk given by Rabbi Avraham Kahn, the Rosh Yeshiva and Founder of Yeshivas Keser Torah in Toronto.

Shalom. Michael Deverett

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