Vegetarianism and the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Judaism
- Published: Thursday, 18 June 2015 12:59
Some time ago an article appeared on the website My Jewish Learning written by Rabi Jill Jacobs.
Rabi Jill Jacobs
Here follows an excerpt:
The concept of Tzaar Baalei Hayim demands that we take animal suffering seriously.
Beginning with the first chapters of the Torah, Judaism establishes a fundamental connection between human beings and animals. Animals, created on the fifth day of the biblical story of creation, can be understood as prototypes of the first human beings – Adam and Eve, created on the sixth day. One of Adam’s first responsibilities as a human being is to name the animals. As evidenced by the episode in which a serpent tempts Eve to eat a forbidden fruit, humans and animals originally speak one another’s language (Genesis 1-3).
The story of Noah’s ark represents a turning point in the relationship between human beings and animals. Furious about human misbehavior, God decides to destroy the world by flood, saving only the righteous Noah and his family and enough animals to sustain all of the species. When the waters recede, God gives Noah seven laws – now known as the Noahide laws–aimed at establishing a just society.