EIKEV (Deuteronomy, 7:11-11:25) — “Animal Wrongs”

G-d promises great rewards for following the Torah:

It will be that if you will listen to my Mitzvahs that I command you today…I will give rain for your Land in its proper time…you will gather your grain, grapes, and olives.  I will give grass in your fields for your animals; you will eat and be satisfied.  (Deuteronomy, 11:13-15)

Why does the Torah mention animals in the middle of a discussion about humans eating?  It would seem more logical that after mentioning grain, grapes, and olives, the Torah should then say, “you will eat and be satisfied.”  THEN, it should talk about grass for the animals. Why does the Torah interrupt a discussion of people food with a reference to animal food?

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Before I answer the question, I would like to share with you a disturbing bit of news.  The Rabbinical Council of America has asked that the following information be distributed to as many people as possible:

Holland Bans Shechitah 

The government of Holland has banned kosher slaughter, becoming the sixth European country to do so. The local Agriculture Ministry informed Jewish community leaders there that they would no longer be permitted to slaughter cows in a kosher manner [shechitah] because of its “cruelty” to the animals. Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior, the former Chief Rabbi of Norway, says he is not convinced that concern for the animals is the real motivation behind the new regulation: “They simply don’t want foreigners and they don’t want Jews. I won’t say that this is the only motivation, but it’s certainly no coincidence that one of the first things Nazi Germany forbade was kosher slaughter. I also know that during the original debate on this issue in Norway, where shechitah has been banned since 1930, one of the parliamentarians said straight out, ‘if they don’t like it, let them go live somewhere else.'” 

Melchior also says the cruelty accusations against shechitah are simply untrue: “The Torah forbids cruelty to animals, and the shechitah process ensures that the animal loses consciousness immediately. We have been dealing with this issue for many years, and there are many scientific studies that back us up.” 

M.E., a religious Jew from Holland, does not appear worried: “The main concern is whether there is kosher meat in the store or not… Of course the principle of the matter worries me. But I have heard on the inside that it was not done as a matter of policy, but rather just a few individuals who were able to convince the government to make this decision…” 

Rabbi Melchior plans to organize a Foreign Ministry campaign to respond to the European lies being disseminated about the so-called cruelty involved in shechitah. He will also have to respond to such accusations here at home; MK Avraham Poraz of the anti-religious Shinui party has congratulated Holland on its decision, saying that shechitah is cruel. Melchior said, “It is certainly infuriating to see a respected Knesset Member plays into the hands of Jewish enemies and thus cause harm to the Jewish community in Europe. The lie that ritual slaughter is cruel simply shows a hatred for Jewish life.” 

PLEASE PASS THIS IS ON TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE,

THIS MUST NOT GO UNNOTICED! 

Rabbinical Council of America

305 Seventh Avenue

New York, New York 10001

212-807-7888

212-727-8452 Fax

rabbis@rabbis.org  

www.rabbis.org

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Remember the question I asked above about the arrangement of the verses about food?  In the middle of G-d’s blessings of rain for our fields, and promises of ample produce, He mentions grass for our animals.  Only then does the Torah tell us to eat and be satisfied.

Do you know why the Torah mentions animal food before it mentions people eating?  The Talmud (Brochos 40a) tells us the answer:  You are not permitted to eat until you have fed your animals!  Once the animals have their grass to eat, only then does the Torah tell us to eat to our hearts’ content.

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Does this sound like a religion that would tolerate treatment of animals that is anything less than totally humane?  Is the instantaneous death of a chicken a bigger cause for concern to the Europeans than the disintegration of innocent Israelis sitting on a bus?!!  Perhaps the Europeans, most of whom did far too little to help their fellow human beings during the Holocaust, need to be a little less concerned about cows, and a little more concerned about people.

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

To leave a comment about this article, or to read other readers’ comments on this article, scroll down past the archive links.

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From the Archives

“Heels and Smiles” (2009)

… My Rebbe was a man who overlooked nothing.  He knew how to see what others ignored.  He was completely in tune with the world around him.

I remember one evening, toward the conclusion of one of his weekly Torah ethical discussions (“Shmuessen”) he asked us to shut off our tape recorders.  (That always meant we were going to get it!) …

Read more.

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“Dress Rehearsal” (2004)

…What is the statement about Tefillin and Mezuzah doing in the middle of a discussion about whether or not we get to live in the Land?  We already know about those Mitzvahs from last week’s Torah Portion!  Why does the Torah repeat it right after telling us that we may be banished from the Land?

Rashi gives us a fascinating answer to this question…

Read more.

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“Where Were YOU When the Lights Went Out?”  (2003)

… People are essentially good.  We do, however, tend to take liberties when it comes to minor infractions.  We wouldn’t dream of reaching into the cash register at the local supermarket and “sampling” its contents.  Yet, many people wouldn’t think twice about nibbling on a grape or two in the produce department.  Most of us don’t drive at 95 miles per hour in a 55MPHzone.  But how many of us stay under 56???…

Read more.

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“Animal Wrongs” (2002)

… Why does the Torah mention animals in the middle of a discussion about humans eating?  It would seem more logical that after mentioning grain, grapes, and olives, the Torah should then say, “you will eat and be satisfied.”  THEN, it should talk about grass for the animals. Why does the Torah interrupt a discussion of people food with a reference to animal food?   …

Read more.

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“Write Between the Eyes!” (2001)

…If the Torah says to write the words of the Shema ON OUR DOORPOSTS, why don’t we?  Why do we settle for attaching a piece of parchment to the doorpost?  Apparently, WE  ARE NOT  FULFILLING OUR OBLIGATION!!  If we want to be truly Torah-observant Jews, we should take a magic marker and scribble two Hebrew paragraphs on the doorposts of our homes! …

Read more.

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This is the weekly message at TorahTalk.net.) Copyright © 2000-2011 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (Brisrabbi.com) and chaplain inMonsey,New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

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Published in: on July 24, 2002 at 12:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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