Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Defending Shechitah

Today, the Dutch parliament voted to ban shechitah. This is just one part of an ongoing battle against shechitah in several countries.

As far as I am aware, the only approach used by Jewish groups to defend shechitah is to argue that it is painless. I don't know if that is true or not. (Some of the "scientific" defense of shechitah seems rather dated and biased. On the other hand, I have seen various quotes from Temple Grandin saying that shechitah can be done without undue pain, and that the main issue is how the animal is treated beforehand.)

But what I do feel is that an alternative strategy should be considered. Because I know of no theological reason why shechitah should necessarily be entirely painless. Furthermore, if you defend shechitah on the grounds that it has "scientifically" been proven painless, then you are effectively conceding that if science proves otherwise, then shechitah should not be done.

Instead, I think that shechitah should be defended on the following grounds: that to the extent that pain is caused to the animal, this is justified for religious benefits.

No country rules that no pain may be caused to animals. All legal systems allow pain to be caused to animals for human benefit. Medical experimentation is one example. Even farming animals for food usually involves some level of distress to the animals. Yet it is permitted, because people are entitled to eat meat.

Of course, this is not unlimited. The pain caused to animals must be commensurate with the human benefit. Many countries prohibit various blood sports in which the pain caused to the animal is not considered justified by the pleasure of hunting. But when there is substantial, legitimate benefit to humans, all legal systems permit causing pain to animals.

Shechitah is the only means by which Jews can eat meat. Eating meat is a legitimate human need, and Judaism is an ancient way of life which deserves respect. Even if shechitah does cause pain to animals, it is justified - especially since the suffering is likely not of long duration. I think that this is ultimately the correct defense (although I will admit that I am not certain if, strategically speaking, it is the best defense to use).

At the same time, the kosher meat industry certainly could improve a lot in terms of how the animals are treated before shechitah. I'm always amazed at how people who are makpid about every minutiae of rabbinic chumra are often entirely unconcerned with the d'Oraisa of tzaar baalei chaim. As Rabbi Aryeh Carmell ztz"l wrote:
It seems doubtful… whether the Torah would sanction “factory farming,” which treats animals as machines, with apparent insensitivity to their natural needs and instincts. (Masterplan, p. 69)

Many halachic authorities are of the opinion that minor benefits and financial benefits, such as those obtained via factory farming, do not warrant causing pain to animals. It is true that the majority opinion is in the other direction. Still, considering that many people are fastidious to meticulously fulfill the laws of kashrus according to all opinions, such punctiliousness should surely also apply to the laws of tzaar baalei chayim. That is to say, since there are opinions which state that financial benefits (such as those enabled through factory farming) do not justify the suffering thereby caused to animals, those who are meticulous to follow all opinions should surely be consistent and refrain from consuming animals farmed in such a manner. Additionally, they should be working to ensure that farmed animals suffer as little as possible, whether they are farmed for food or fur. Aside from the innate importance and value of that, I'm sure it would assist in the general campaign to defend shechitah.

52 comments:

  1. I doubt any of the opponents would be convinced by your argument. Those who favor these bans are generally a combination of those who believe that "ancient ways of life" deserve replacement by more progressive ways of life rather than respect, and old-fashioned anti-semites. neither group will buy your argument.

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  2. There's something slightly unnerving about admitting that Hashem davka wants us to cause more pain to animals than necessary. Also, admitting that we need to cause pain for religious reasons makes us sound callous, and then we leave ourselves open to charges that we are no different to those who inflict pain on humans (say via female genital mutilation) for religious or cultural reasons.

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  3. Hashem doesn't "davka want us to cause more pain to animals than necessary." He wants there to be one reasonably painless method of killing that can be legislated and fulfilled by all Jews at all times.

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  4. >Instead, I think that shechitah should be defended on the following grounds: that to the extent that pain is caused to the animal, this is justified for religious benefits.

    You're right that it should not be defended on grounds that it is painless (if it isn't) but your defense strategy cannot possibly work. People who are not themselves religious are often fed up with religion, and don't see barbarism as worthy of getting a pass for the sake of religion. Europe bore the brunt of the church for a thousand years, and now it's payback time, as far as people are concerned.

    So I don't think it should be granted that it's barbarism, but ask where is your tolerance for religion? There is no tolerance for intolerance. What should be stressed though is that it is no worse than clubbing baby seals on the head or foie gras or bullfighting or hunting for sport, and until these countries truly do away with these things they are simply hypocrites for singling out something which only affects a minority, Jews and Muslims, but ignoring the things that the majority happens to like to do to animals without the legislatures taking those up.

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  5. >Hashem doesn't "davka want us to cause more pain to animals than necessary." He wants there to be one reasonably painless method of killing that can be legislated and fulfilled by all Jews at all times.

    You're going to tell a European legislature that our God-given religion of minute laws, which admittedly are past the expiration date due to a newer superior method, should nonetheless be followed because if we can't do it this way in 2011 then there was no justification for it in 1011?

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  6. No, that's what I was saying to J. What I would say to a European legislature is what I wrote in the post.

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  7. Just some quibbles:
    > But when there is substantial, legitimate benefit to humans, all legal systems permit causing pain to animals.

    Not always. Look at how the animal rights industry has affected the use of animals in medical research. Odds are if the movement had existed back when Banting and Best were doing their landmark research on insulin we'd still have diabetics dying in the streets from lack of treatment.

    > Shechitah is the only means by which Jews can eat meat. Eating meat is a legitimate human need,

    Or is it a legitimate human desire? Meat is not essential to the human diet but a convenient source of protein and certain nutrients. There is nothing irreplaceable in meat that can't be substituted especially nowadays.

    At any rate, it is almost as if this is a punishment for the reaction of the "official" Jewish community to the Rubashkin debacle. How many times did we hear the line "But the meat was kosher and that's all we care about!" in response to questioning why kashrut authorities didn't care about cruelty to animals, cruelty to workers, use of illegal immigrants, etc?

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  8. I am in profound agreement. And this is not the only issue to which this sort of argument ought to apply.

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  9. Firstly, the legislation was done to ban Muslim slaughter. Trying to argue religious tolerance, when the entire purpose of the law was to get Muslims out of their country seems really naive to me.

    Secondly, why should the Dutch care if 500,000 Jews can't eat meat now? If they want to eat meat so badly, they can move to Israel.

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  10. Amateur,

    It's 50,000, not 500,000. Also, as the head of the Jewish Dutch community pointed out: This law will not save animals from pain since the law does not ban the inportation of shechted animals. In other words, roughly the same amount of animals will be shechted. The law only transfers the location of the slaughter houses. Unless the lawmakers decide to ban the importation of shechted animals, this law is only symbolic.

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  11. If these bans on traditional shechitah continue and are expanded, then changes will have to be made in the shechitah practice to convince the authorities concerned that it is a humane method of killing. Arguments that such bans are motivated by antisemitic bias, and that hunting animals is far crueler will not gain much traction - even if largely true. Instead, the Grandin criteria for the preparation of the animals for slaughter and their environment must be instituted. In particular, upside-down shechitah and shackle-and-hoist methods must be outlawed as cruel to animals. If this is not sufficient, then rendering the animal unconscious immediately prior to slaughter should be considered, i.e. anaesthetization. This can be done in such a way that that the animal's vital signs are unaffected. In which case, the animal should not be considered a safek treifa.

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  12. I agree with a few of the comments here. "Judaism is an ancient way of life which deserves respect" seems to be a very dubious statement from a secular point of view. I would claim the exact opposite, any ancient way of life which seems to contradict a more modern point of view is worthy of study as a point of curiosity, but it is abhorrent to actually consider living accordingly.

    And the best defense should really be the issue of hunting. Hit Esav where it hurts. Propose legislation that requires stunning the animal before shooting it in cold blood.

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  13. "Eating meat is a legitimate human need"

    Is it a "need"? There area lot of vegetarians and vegans that indicate that is not truly a "need".

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  14. Interesting how the moves against Jewish practice such as shechita or circumcision seem to be coming from the left.

    It seems like the far left and far right have something to unite them-Jews.

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  15. > Unless the lawmakers decide to ban the importation of shechted animals, this law is only symbolic.

    Hardly symbolic. First of all, a ban on imports might be next. And even if it isn't, the price of imported meat will impact many families' budgets.

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  16. I agree with the fact that there is no way to prove in court, that the animal suffers less with the Torah method of slaughter.

    We can not even prove it to ourselves.

    Until cows can speak for themselves, there will be no prove.

    On the other hand, red meat is an unhealthy food, Gam zu la'tovah.

    What I do see in all this, and at the risk of going against the theme of this post, is that this (along with all the other anti-Jewish sentiment throughout the world) is a message, if you will, from Hashem, that we must all go back to Israel, where we belong.
    For the time of the coming of Mashiach is upon us. Amein
    o

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  17. >Secondly, why should the Dutch care if 500,000 Jews can't eat meat now? If they want to eat meat so badly, they can move to Israel.

    Why Israel? Why not Belgium, where shechita is legal? Maybe they should move to Birobidzhan? Or Brooklyn?

    I think its relevant that apart for the right wing, the Dutch at least claim that they accept that Dutch Jews, who have been living there for centuries or decades, are Dutch. Maybe this isn't the case for recent Islamic immigrants (they're brown, you know) but it would be hard for the Dutch to say what you suggest they would.

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  18. I thought it only appropriate to share this link to a shechita performed by a Dutch ex-pat in Israel:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E9PYbEJVag

    Re: the "pain" argument, while R. Slifkin is right that such a "ta'am ha'mitzva" leaves itself open to doing away with shechita when a more painless method is available, we're not talking here about the theoretical reason for shechita.

    The Dutch people are concerned (so they say) with animal suffering. So we need to meet them on their terms - which is to say that indeed we DO need to regulate the industry to reduce suffering - and the way to do that is to focus on how these animals spend 99.9999% of their lives, and not obsess about the very brief moment of death, especially when care IS taken to ensure a quick end.

    As an internal-Jewish issue however, I resonate with Garnel's point about meat no longer being essential to the diet. There is no reason (other than our ta'ava) that animals should have to live lives of misery and be killed for us to have a sandwich. And I'd venture to say that if Moshe Rabbeinu were conscripted to build our nation today to be ahead of the curve, a genuine "goy kadosh", manifesting the highest and best human practices, I wonder if perhaps we might be vegans.

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  19. I'm sympathetic to your strategy, and agree that shechitah is vital to Jewish life and must be vigorously and intelligently defended. I also completely agree that people wishing to be careful about halachic observance should avoid buying meat that is factory farmed. A couple quibbles though.

    First, basically all meat is factory-farmed. A tiny proportion is raised on organic and free range facilities -- a small proportion of which is kosher-supervised and -slaughtered -- but there is no transparency to these operations, and animal welfare activists have painstakingly documented that these "happy meat" practices are in fact not much better, or any better at all in some cases, than traditional practices. Some of the operations that have been most praised as humane in fact perpetuate many of the most inhumane practices.

    Second, you say that eating meat is a legitimate human need, but this is not true at all. Humans don't need meat; they simply want and like to eat it (as G-d recognized in Bereshit, by allowing meat as people "desired"). In fact, a good halachic argument can be made that vegetarianism (or near-vegetarianism) is the ideal, and perhaps even required. First, the Talmud states that only the rich should eat meat, and even rich people should not eat meat more than once a week (Chulin 84a). Also, as stated in the Gemara, it is a mitzvah d'oraisa to reduce animal suffering. Therefore, when suffering is unnecessary, we should not inflict it. All now agree that meat-eating is not necessary. In fact, the American Dietetic Association acknowledges that balanced vegan diets are appropriate for all people, including small children and pregnant or nursing mothers. If we should reduce animal suffering whenever possible, all animal agriculture involves some suffering, and meat-eating is not necessary, then vegetarianism would seem the logical outcome.

    In case you're interested, here are links authored (or co-authored) by vegetarian Orthodox rabbi Richard Schwartz:

    http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Practical/Shop--ToDo/Religion/jewishvegbooklet72.pdf

    http://www.jewishveg.com/JudaismAndVegetarianism/JudaismandVegetarianism2001.pdf

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  20. Ditto what DES said.

    Interestingly we just started learning the laws of shechita in the Daf Yomi.

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  21. Accidental KorachJune 29, 2011 at 2:53 AM

    Consider whether breeding 'Ben Pakua' [fully grown calf in womb of shechittah slaughtered animal]
    which only requires shechittah because of ma'arat ayin (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 13:4, Shach 12) could be slaughtered without shechittah (if that becomes illegal i a host country).

    Animals could then be slaughtered for kosher consumption in the same manner as other animals and this whole discussion would be irrelevant.

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  22. "... I know of no theological reason why shechitah should necessarily be entirely painless."

    Perhaps not entirely. But, what is the "Rationalist" explanation for the ultra-sharp, nick-less knife of a certain length and width, and other minutiae of shechitah halacha if not to render the process as painless as possible given the existing technology? It would be sad if halacha fails to adapt to a newer technology that could be proven to be less painful then the old.

    (Bris with a flint knife anyone?)

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  23. Garnel writes: "How many times did we hear the line "But the meat was kosher and that's all we care about!""

    Zero.
    Sure, many shoppers might have cared more to get their meat than know the illegalities involved, but I never heard anyone actually say what you wrote.

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  24. But, what is the "Rationalist" explanation for the ultra-sharp, nick-less knife of a certain length and width, and other minutiae of shechitah halacha if not to render the process as painless as possible given the existing technology?

    I absolutely agree! But there's a significant difference between "as painless as possible given the existing technology" and "entire painless."

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  25. I completely agree with this post.

    What I don't agree with, is various commentators who see justification for banning Muslim schita. Why? Why do you want to deny other peoples rights? What's your justification? There are customs that are degrading, humiliating and are an affront to humanity, like burka, or women shaving their heads after marriage, or women having to ride in the back of a bus. I would like to see these banned everywhere for the benefit of humanity, but why is Muslim schita any less legitimate than the Jewish one?

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  26. 1. "If you defend shechitah on the grounds that it has "scientifically" been proven painless, then you are effectively conceding that if science proves otherwise, then shechitah should not be done."

    I disagree with that. By arguing the pain angle, you are merely entertaining their argument as an alternative arguendo. If somehow the pain could be proven scientifically, thus negating that particular defense, then the grounds for shechitah would merely shift to another reason. Nothing more than standard arguing in the alternative.

    2. Another argument against the ban is that it will only make criminals out of otherwise good citizens. Because Jews are not going to stop eating meat just because a sitting parliment declared it illegal. Opponents pointed this out (mut mut) during prohibition in the US, and ultimately they prevailed. Others have made the same point in connection with the aborted attempt to put a circumcizion ban on the ballot in SF, a ban which would never be observed. Its also the same theory as "ain gozrin gezeirah al hatzibor she'ee efsher lamod bo." All it does it serve to make legislators seem ineffectual.

    3. Agreed with Mike, the first poster, and S., that the propoents of the ban do not really care about the arguments, and do no really care if the animals are in pain or not - its just about anti-religion, and in some cases anti-Jew and anti-muslim. Its appropriate to apply here Hosea 13:2, "they kiss the calf but kill the man."

    4. I agree with you that most of the old-time shlachthouses were pretty inhumane. I visited several of these in the 80s and 90s, and it was almost enough to make one a PETA wacko. [Almost!] But my understanding is that these old-fashioned slaughterhouses are almost extinct. My impression, not first hand, is that the big operators like Empire and Meal Mart have actually done a great deal to make their process as humane as possible. Naturally there will always be detractors, but some people will never be satisfied until ALL animal killing is outlawed. And see point # 3 above.

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  27. Michael A. SingerJune 29, 2011 at 7:12 AM

    As far as I am aware, the only approach used by Jewish groups to defend shechitah is to argue that it is painless. I don't know if that is true or not.

    All bloodshed must necessarily involve some form of pain, unless the animal is rendered completely senseless.

    Regardless, what is the "nafka mina" in the eyes of the Dutch parliament between factory farming / non-kosher slaughter vs. kosher slaughter? If you are going to focus on a minority religious Jewish/Muslim practice at the expense of the vast majority secular practice, then that's pretty low. This should be defense enough of shekhitah.

    The extremism of the Dutch parliament is stunning. This from one of the earliest countries to welcome Jews back into early modern Europe (Manassah ben Israel was a scion of Amsterdam, as was Spinoza), and defender of Jewish rights to dwell in the New World (Dutch East Indies company vs. Stuyvesent)? It seems like the anti-immigrant (read "anti-Muslim") fervor has spilled over! Very dangerous...

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  28. There's a new technology that will probably pose some novel halachic questions, and may present some interesting opportunities.
    Interesting that Holland is in the lead with it.

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  29. Carol

    >What I don't agree with, is various commentators who see justification for banning Muslim schita.

    I didn't see any commentators saying this, let alone various. The word "Muslim" appears in two comments before yours, one was mine, and neither of us said that Muslim shechita should be banned.

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  30. Wow! S, you are right. I gladly take my words back. I'll be more careful in the future. Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

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  31. "Why Israel? Why not Belgium, where shechita is legal? Maybe they should move to Birobidzhan? Or Brooklyn?"

    Because in a few years, the odds are that Belgium will also outlaw it, and even Brooklyn.

    Unless you know of another country where the interests of Jews are held in top priority, Israel is the only place one can move to and be certain that shechita will not be outlawed.

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  32. (1) The Torah ALLOWS us to eat meat. It even DEMANDS that we eat meat as part of the Korban Pesach (Passover Paschal sacrifice) and that we eat meat on the Hagim.
    I am frankly put off by the self-rigtheousness of some vegetarians. My son-in-law is a vegetarian based on Rav Kook's philosophy and he does not begrudge the rest of us in the family to eat meat. Rav Kook also opposed missionizing for vegetarianism even though he was basically a vegetarian himself.

    (2) There is no question in my mind that antisemitism is a PRIMARY motivation for the recent attempts to ban shechita and now Brit Milah (circumcision). Poland, Nazi Germany and other countries in the 1930's banned shechita. Does anyone really think that in that era of virulent, genocidal antisemitism, that "concern for animal welfare" was really a motiviation for the ban, or just an excuse?
    Today, most mainstream antisemitism is coming out of the
    "Progressive Left", whereas the pre-war antisemitism came mostly out of the "reactionary right". No "progressive" has the right to ban ancient, mainstream religious practices and that is the argument I would use, ignoring the "pain factor" as Rav Slifkin indicates.

    I urge everyone to read Prof. Ernest Sternberg's seminal article about the new, radical "Purification" ideology which the radical Left/Progressives have adopted. A primary target of this group is Zionism, and thus Judaism. They say the world can not be "purified" and reach the "progressive utopia" until Zionism and, by extension, Judaism are eradicated. These moves against shechita and brit milah are just opening moves in the battle. Read at this link:
    (Rav Slifkin-I really think you would find this interesting and enlightening!):


    http://spme.net/library/pdf/PurifyingtheWorld.pdf

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  33. the chinuch (re'ah)says one reason for shechitah is it being a pain-free way of killing the animal.

    although I am not sure if this comment is allowed on a rationalist blog

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  34. My strategy for defeating the ban:

    1. Skepticism toward claim that it is less humane. Is there any evidence? Can we measure pain as it is experienced? Doesn't stunning often fail, causing seizures and pain?

    2. Asking very openly: why are they choosing this issue, which attacks the ability of observant Jews to live in the country? Aren't there many other ways to reduce animal suffering that don't involve an attack on a vulnerable group?

    3. Jewish groups should tell animal welfare groups: if you'll forget about banning shechitah, we'll join with you in calling for legislation that would reduce the worst abuses on factory farms, and even perhaps ban or restrict hunting (agaginst halacha anyway).

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  35. The reason they banned shechita is to get at the Muslims more than the Jews. The Jews in Holland shecht about 8 cows every two months. The Jewish religious population there is very small. I don't know how much it will affect the Muslims in Holland but there are big parties in Holland whose aim is to make sure Islam doesn't take over. I know Gert Wilders is very pro-Jewish but was in favour of the ban, to get at the Muslims.
    Some mussar haskel from all this - the party that put forward the motion to ban shechita only had one seat in government. Amazing what one person can do! (and terrible)

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  36. Y. Ben David: The following links (from an organization headed by the Orthodox Rabbi Richard Schwartz) answer all of the objections you wrote under (1), about the sacrifices, hagim, permission to eat meat, whether one should be quiet about one's vegetarian, etc.

    http://www.jewishveg.com/faq02.html

    http://www.jewishveg.com/faq31.html

    http://www.jewishveg.com/faq37.html

    http://www.jewishveg.com/schwartz/dietgod.html

    Regarding your being put off by self-righteousness of vegetarians, I will say this. No matter what vegetarians say and how they say it, whether they're trying to convince people or not, there are many people who, for some reason, have a strong negative emotional reaction and accuse the vegetarian of being self-righteous or whatever. This is true even for those who later become vegetarians. Vegetarian advocates realize this psychological mechanism and often try to craft their messages to reduce offense, but ultimately many will continue to have emotional reactions anyway. The prevalence of these emotional reactions, of course, says nothing about the validity of the actual ethical issues involved.

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  37. Apologies for the mistake -- he's Orthodox, though not a rabbi.

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  38. In my admittedly biased view, I think that you'll find a more balanced discussion of vegetarianism in my book Man & Beast.

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  39. One could make a case that any body which still allows bullfighting has no cause to ban shechita or hallal slaughter. This would only represent a temporary solution to the problem as it would quickly lead to the long-overdue banning of that barbarous form of animal sacrifice in the EU and the disappointment of Hemingway readers.

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  40. What is the value of Shechita, and is it still valuable today? At the heart of this question we could ask “what is the value of mitzvot?” We all agree that mitzvoth, or halacha, is valuable because HaShem commands them, but the question is still “what are the purposes of mitzvot, from HaShem’s perspective?” I believe that mitzvoth, and by extension halacha, are intrinsically valuable to us, humans, and that they serve to humble us, by making the mundane actions of our lives Holy. As we consider that our every action has religious significance our behaviour should become reflective, and considered an action for HaShem. Thus shichita has the function of imbibing the gluttonous action of killing an animal for, what is essentially our pleasure, with a Holy act. Halacha, as a rule should work to make us better, more considerate people. When we pursue halacha, follow the letter of the law, for halacha’s own sake, we have corrupted the intent of the mitzvah, and replaced the mitzvah with halacha. Thus with slaughter/shechita, while the original purpose of the shechita ritual is to elevate the process to one of religious value, and where our action is guided by more than just the fastest and most expedient way to slaughter the animal, on an industrial scale, the mitzvah is undermined when processes that are not technically in breach of halacha, but which none the less are designed with convenience and economics are employed. The religious approach to animal slaughter should be about consideration about needs other than our own; the needs of the animal we are about to slaughter, and realization that what we are about to kill is a life that is being sacrificed (in its literal intent of the word) to sustain us, and even to give us pleasure. When the slaughter of meat becomes an industrial commodity, we have lost the argument.

    Hence, I believe to “win” the argument over shechita we must restore the mitzvah of shechita to its rightful practice. If Animal Welfare advocates could be convinced that Shechita leads to a reflective practice that both minimizes that number of animals slaughtered and leads to practices that elevate value of the life of the animal being slaughtered, then it is possible that we could find common ground with them and reach a compromise that would allow the continuation of shechita practices.

    Some things to note. It is my understanding of the NZ law that the problem (from the economic perspective) with the law was that meat not slaughtered by stunning the animal first was to be labelled as such. Thus hindquarters, which are sold to the non-kosher meat market, and which subsidizes in part the cost of the cow and slaughter, could no longer be sold on. This leads to two problems, an economic and a waste problem, as nearly half the cow becomes unusable.

    Two: It is very likely that Shechita is stressful (although possibly painless) to the animal. Death is not instantaneous to the animal, which would be a cause of stress to the animal. I can imagine a supper sharp knife making a painless incision (I have cut myself with a scalpel enough times to know this), and “covering up the blood” from the slaughtered animal would lessen the stress imposed on the next animal to be slaughtered.

    Three: It is my personal suspicion that Political Animal Welfare advocates want to ban all industrial slaughter of meat. Kosher and Hallal are merely the “low lying fruit”.

    Four: (This is being written tongue in cheek) Resent attempts to ban circumcision and ritual slaughter are efforts by politicians to help broker a deal in the Middle East. By targeting these rituals, the atheists have forced Jew and Muslim to become allies. These measures are merely a ploy to drive us together. (Can you think of any other two issues likely to make Jew and Muslim sit down on the same side of the table, with common cause and as allies?)

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  41. Before the Dutch go banning shechitah, I want to know how they boil their lobsters and if they've also banned certain delicacies for their Chinese population.

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  42. I am not sure why should bullfighting be banned. It's a part of Spanish culture and is enjoyable. I like it and I also like the Portugese bullfighting where the bull is not killed. In Siberia the Russians used to hunt a bear with a knife. Why exactly is this a problem? What's next? Boxing? Wrestling? Why don't we just concern ourselves with the welfare of people first and worry about all these animals later?

    Ofcourse, we Jews have the prohibition of tzaar baalei chaim, but the rest of the world doesn't have it so why is this a problem?

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  43. Carol, bear-baiting also used to be cultural and enjoyable. So was the Cornish sport of nailing a cat to a post and head-butting it to death. And it used to be fun of a Sunday to go down to Bedlam and laugh at the suffering of the lunatics.

    Fortunately, most of the world has advanced beyond that sort of primitive barbarism

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  44. Todd, no problem with the advancement in civilization. I am not defending indiscriminate barbarism. I think in Catalonia they outlawed bullfighting altogether and if the rest of Spain follows suite, it's just fine with me. All I am saying is that these specific practices are a part of their culture and national character just like schecita is part of ours. Why don't we just leave each other alone and focus on the real problems that the world has?

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  45. Todd, no problem with the advancement in civilization. I am not defending indiscriminate barbarism. I think in Catalonia they outlawed bullfighting altogether and if the rest of Spain follows suite, it's just fine with me. All I am saying is that these specific practices are a part of their culture and national character just like schecita is part of ours. Why don't we just leave each other alone and focus on the real problems that the world has?

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  46. ignorant commentsJuly 5, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    Those saying that the law "targets" muslims are engaging in a typical leftwing pity party which sympathizes with the "poor victim faultless beloved muslim" enemy. But the fact is that muslim slaughter does not prevent stunning the animals first so the law doesn't affect them.

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  47. Actually it would be possible to provide mammalian meat without shechita by farming herds of animals that are "bnei pakuah". Such animals are the descendents of mothers that were delivered by caesarian section after having been slaughtered by proper shechita. Of course I am not certain about the economics of developing such a system but it should be investigated if the current trend against shechita continues in Europe.

    Shimon C.

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  48. As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, I want to point out that, while we oppose all slaughter of animals for food, we oppose the singling out of shechitah for special criticism. Reading the book "Slaughterhouse" by Gil Eisnitz made me aware of the many things that go wrong at non-kosher slaughterhouses.

    I hope the Jewish community will consider the ways that plant-based diets are most consistent with basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and pursue peace; also how animal-based diets and agriculture are contributing to an epidemic of diseases among Jews and others and to climate change, food, water, and energy, shortages and other threats to humanity.

    I would love to have a respectful dialogue/debate with a rabbi or other Jewish scholar on "Should Jews be Vegetarians?" It would be a kiddush Hashem (a sanctification of God's name) in showing the relevance of Judaism's eternal teachings to current threats.

    For more information on Jewish teachings on vegetarianism please visit JewishVeg.cm/schwartz, where I have 140 articles and 25 podcasts of my talks and interviews and the complete text of my book "Judaism and Vegetarianism." Please also visit aSacredDuty.com, where you can see our acclaimed, award-winning documentary "A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World."

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  49. Carol, wrestling and boxing are two sports that have consenting parties. The animals are not given a choice. They are exploited in every way imaginable at the whim of man.

    How can you seriously attempt to justify cruelty by rationalizing that it occurs all over the world? If anything our people should be a light unto the nations. We should be the facilitators of tikun olam, striving always to be more compassionate, evolved, and concerned about our planet and all its fellow creatures.
    Rina Deych, RN/Wildlife Rehabilitator
    Founding Member
    Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos
    http://www.endchickensaskaporos.com/

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  50. ... And has been said by others, meat is not a necessity. If it were we vegans would be long dead.

    Rina Deych, RN / Vegan Nurse

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  51. My grandfather, Joseph Levine,was one of the first kosher butchers in Boro Park in the 1920s. Interestingly, he loved animals and rescued many dogs, cats, and birds (unusual in the orthodox community). One day, he had occasion to visit a slaughterhouse. He was so horrified at how brutal the process had become that he gave up his business and stopped eating meat.
    Aside from the cruelty issue of how the animals are raised and killed, there is also the health issue. Meat and other animal products are responsible for cardiovascular disease, renal failure, many cancers, and even diabetes. Additionally, the meat industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.
    Switching to a plant-based diet is better for human health, the planet, and (obviously) the animals.
    Rina Deych, RN / Vegan Nurse

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