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The Schwartz Strikes Back

Richard Schwartz, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Professional Nuisance Emeritus and Vegetarian Advocate to the Blogs has responded yet again.
According to Rashi, Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, the Rambam, the Ramban, Rabbi Joseph Albo, and other outstanding Torah commentators, G-d’s initial intention was that people be vegetarians.

Death did not yet exist in the world and thus people could not yet be eating meat. However you are inverting this to suggest that the vegetarian diet was morally superior when it was simply the product of a different world in which it was physically impossible to do otherwise. One might as well claim that nudism was G-D's original intention and is thus morally superior to wearing clothes and should be our practice today.

(Chava and Adam's leather clothing) This may be from animals that died a natural death or it might be clothing from plants.

Were the sacrifices then also mandated by the Torah to be from plants or animals that died naturally? In fact such sacrifices are forbidden. Indeed you may note in what detail last week's parsha went into the process of sacrificing and butchering an animal. Thousands and thousands of animals brought up to be sacrificed, parts of which were considered holy and eaten by the Kohanim. Animal rights activists and vegetarians would be apalled.

According to a midrash, both Moshe and king David were deemed suitable for leadership because of their compassionate treatment of animals.

Certainly true but you're missing the point. Treatment of animals which they cared for with the ultimate aim that they would be disposed of for human use as G-D intended them to. Do you think Moshe and King David simply walked the sheep around and that the sheep never ended up as mutton?

The Torah repeatedly mandates and prescribes the use of animals for food, whether it is through sacrifices or celebration. Quoting Rabbis today who are vegetarians or quotes emphasizing the importance of how we treat animals does not change this simple fact.

The focus of our worship of G-D, for which today prayers are only a substitute, Korbanot Peh (sacrifices of the lips) took place around altars in which animals were butchered and whose priests ate their meat as laid out in minute detail in the Torah.

No one argues that we have an obligation to treat animals well as they are gifts from Hashem given for our use. That last part of the sentence is the one veggies have so much trouble with. We are meant to make use of animals as we live our lives as Hashem intended us to and not to worship animals or be their caretakers.


  1. Anonymous22/3/05

    The ideas espoused by Dr. Schwartz have been advocated by many rabbis, including chief rabbis like Kook, Cohen, Sachs, and Rosen. Feel free to disagree with these deeply knowledgable leaders, but stop suggesting the arguments are unfounded.

  2. Anonymous22/3/05

    Pardon Me Noam, said Matt munching yet another juicy rare glatt kosher hamburger, But these guys dont have a leg(of lamb) to stand on.
    People have eaten meat from after gan eden or before since Hashem killed an animal to make clothes for Chava and Adam. I am sure that luscious meat didnt go to waste(yum).
    This is just more attempts at covering over as one poster put it an inner lack with more outer stringencies. These guys are acting in hysterical ways, said Matt as he removed his clothing to be more*original*.. Oh, and Noam, pass me that Ketchup will you ?


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