Re’eh: A New Menu

Among the many benefits to living in the land of Israel, one benefit stands out in this week’s Parasha: eating meat. Prior to living in the land, members of Bnai Yisrael only ate meat as part of a sacrificial offering. Now they did not need to share their steak with the Kohanim; they could slaughter an animal themselves and privately enjoy the meat among their family members. Parashat Re’eh provides us with a list of clean and unclean animals.

Rav Kook, who was the chief rabbi in Israel before the state was founded, explained that this list of animal restrictions indicates that the Torah did not view meat consumption as the ideal situation for Bnai Yisrael. According to Rav Kook, if the Torah had stated that Bnai Yisrael was not permitted to eat any meat outside of the sacrificial system, this law would have never been observed. Rav Kook believed that the laws of Kashrut were meant to expose humanity to the hardships faced by the animal kingdom and even make humans think twice before slaughtering their dinner.

  • How you do respond to Rav Kook’s understanding of the laws of Kashrut?
  • Do ethical considerations for animals play a role in your meat consumption? Why or why not?
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