Rabbi J. David, "Vegetarianism and Judaism," Tradition, Vol.
23, No. 1 (Summer, 1987).
Cohen, Rabbi Alfred, "Vegetarianism
From a Jewish Perspective," Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society,
Vol. I, No. II (Fall, 1981).
(ed.), Judaism and Animals Rights - Classical and Contemporary Responses,
Marblehead, Massachusetts: Micah Publications, 1992.
Roberta (ed.), Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition. Marblehead,
Massachusetts: Micah publications, 1995.
Roberta, and Rosa Rasiel, The Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook, Marblehead,
Massachusetts: Micah publications, 1997.
Roberta, Vegetarian Judaism - A Guide for Everyone, Marblehead, Massachusetts:
Micah Publications, 1998.
Schwartz, Richard H. Judaism
and Vegetarianism, New York: Lantern Books, 2001. (2nd Edition: Marblehead,
Massachusetts: Micah Publications,1988.) (1st edition: Smithtown, NY: Exposition
and vegetarianism? Can the two be related? After all, what is a simcha (Jewish
celebration) or holiday dinner without gefilte fish, chopped liver, cholent, roast
beef, chicken, and chicken soup? And what about passages in the Torah referring
to Temple sacrifices of animals and the consumption of meat? In spite of these
considerations, there has been much Jewish vegetarian activity recently in the
United States, Israel, England, and other countries, and there is a broad and
increasing literature showing connections between Judaism and vegetarianism.
SCHWARTZ has written a comprehensive analysis of all aspects of Jewish vegetarianism.
The first chapter presents a "vegetarian view of the bible" that discusses
God's first, strictly vegetarian, dietary law (Genesis 1:29); God's second vegetarian
attempt in terms of the manna; and the view of some Jewish scholars that people
will again be vegetarians in the time of the Messiah. The next five chapters consider
Jewish teachings on (1) compassion for animals, (2) preserving health, (3) protecting
the environment and conserving natural resources, (4) helping hungry people, and
(5) pursuing peace, and then discuss how animal-based diets and agriculture serious
violate these teachings. The book addresses 37 questions that are often asked
of vegetarians who take the Jewish tradition seriously. These include: Don't we
have to eat meat on the Sabbath and Jewish festivals? Weren't we given dominion
over animals? What about sacrificial Temple services? Jewish vegetarian groups
and activities in the United States, Britain (where the Jewish Vegetarian Society
has its international headquarters), and Israel are discussed. Also provided are
biographies of famous Jewish vegetarians, an annotated bibliography, recipes and
food-related suggestions, and action ideas for those who might want to promote
KALECHOFSKY (1998) builds on and extends Schwartz's work.
She uses similar arguments in terms of contradictions between Judaism and realities
of animal agriculture and diets to assert that vegetarianism is the ideal diet
for Jews today, and adds an additional one, "klal Yisrael", her view
that all of klal Yisrael, the Jewish people, could once again share meals in each
others' homes and at each others' celebrations if all Jews were vegetarians. The
chapter on health has extensive discussions of recent problems related to meat,
including "mad cow disease", genetic engineering, and recalls of meat
due to outbreaks of E.coli and salmonella poisoning.. An insightful historical
and sociological context is provided in the chapters, "Kashrut and Modernity,"
and "From Living Soul to Animal Machine".
BERMAN provides a less
polemical, but more psychological, analysis than Schwartz and Kalechofsky. The
book is relatively short (the main text is only 72 pages) but there are valuable
chapters on "Slaughter as a Mode of Worship" and "The Dietary Laws
as Atonements for Flesh Eating.", which speculate that the sacrifices provided
a cover for meat eating in a religion that has such strong teachings on compassion
for animals, and that the dietary laws provided a replacement for the sacrifices
of animals. While vegetarianism is viewed favorably, the author states that if
he is invited to a dinner and meat is served, he would play the "visiting
anthropologist" and eat what is served, so as not to embarrass the hostess
and other guests.
KALECHOFSKY (1995) provides thought provoking essays
on Jewish connections to vegetarianism by and about 17 rabbis. The rabbis in the
anthology are a varied group: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist;
male and female; modern and from previous generations; recent converts to vegetarianism
as well as long-time proponents. They also use a variety of arguments for vegetarianism,
all based on Jewish values: preserving health; showing compassion to animals;
protecting the environment; and sharing with hungry people. Rabbi Everett Gendler's
essay adds an additional cogent argument: Humans are to exult in creation and
to join a chorus of all living creatures in singing God's praises; but instead,
people, sharply deviating from this mission, have treated their fellow choir members
horribly and have killed them and eaten their corpses. Particularly powerful is
the essay by Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, in which he indicates
that eating meat is not acceptable today according to halacha (Jewish law) because
of its negative health effects and the cruelty to animals on factory farms.
KALECHOFSKY (1992) provides a wide variety of insightful essays on Jewish teachings
related to animal rights and vegetarianism, including two chapters each from the
books by Schwartz and Berman. It also includes the essay by COHEN, a modern, Orthodox
scholar, that provides a comprehensive overview of the topic. Since he is not
a vegetarian, many of his statements that favor vegetarianism are very important,
including the following: "If a person is more comfortable not eating meat,
there would be no obligation for him to do so on the Sabbath" and... "we
may clearly infer that, eating meat, even on a Festival is not mandated by the
halacha (Jewish law)'. He also concedes that ,". . . if indeed eating meat
is injurious to one's health, it is not only permissible but perhaps even mandatory
that we reduce our ingestion of an unhealthy product to the minimum level".
BLEICH, another non-vegetarian Orthodox rabbi, a noted modern Torah scholar and
professor at Yeshiva University, in his scholarly overview of vegetarianism, also
concedes that Jews need not be vegetarians: "The implication is that meat
may be consumed when there is desire and appetite for it as food, but may be eschewed
when there is not desire and, a fortiori, when it is found to be repugnant",
and Jewish tradition does not command carnivorous behavior..."
and RASIEL provide a thoughtful analysis of the connections between vegetarianism
and Jewish holidays, along with 170 recipes and many food-related ideas to add
to the joy of the festivals.