Sunday, December 04, 2005

A rabbi on animals, humans and things...

Anyone who has worked in or inspected a slaughterhouse knows that it is not pleasant. Not surprisingly the bloody environment seems to have a desensitizing effect on people who work there. This makes one’s first encounter with a shochet even more shock ing. Instead of a toughened exterior immunized to the pain, one sees a man who might slaughter dozens of animals a day, yet whose soul weeps for each and every animal he dispatches to the butcher store. The Psalms and prayers he recites during his work address the difference between humans and animals, his ultimate purpose of providing food for humans, and the moral legitimacy of eating meat.

Nonetheless, there have been several attempts to persuade legislators to ban this form of religiously based slaughter. Here is how it has happened during the recent past in Europe—and how it could, and perhaps will, happen here in America. The broad coalition of animal rights enthusiasts and their fellow travelers have unified through the cement of secularism. They derive some legitimacy from the claim that all religions pro scribe cruelty to animals. Every trend that becomes dangerous, no matter how far fetched, can only do so if it contains enough truth to provide it with the launch pad of legitimacy. In the case of animal rights, some legitimacy was provided by the fact that, indeed, all decent people abhor acts of cruelty to animals. From there to trying to eliminate the use of animal furs in clothing and fashion is a gigantic leap. From there to banning the use of animals in pharmaceutical and drug testing is an even greater leap. From there to suggesting that eating meat is somehow morally reprehensible, and certainly that killing an animal without stunning it (rendering it unkosher), is only one more leap.

These great leaps are made with the fervor of genuine faith. [...] In their furious determination to refute the first few chapters of Genesis, extreme secularists are driven to insist that animals and people are identical in essential nature; different only superficially. In reality the entire point of those early chapters is that God is building up to the pinnacle and ultimate purpose of Creation. First come inanimate objects followed by vegetation and animals. Only then do we see man being formed and, as I remind my six daughters, thereafter we reach the pinnacle when God creates woman.

Secularism crouching beneath the banner of the animal rights movement is determined to eliminate any moral endorsement of the differences between man and animal. Using animals in any way at all is distasteful. No, it is evil. After all, would you test a potentially dangerous drug on your cousin before using it yourself? Would you wear the skin of your sister? Would you become a cannibal? The answers to all these questions then become moral justification for eliminating their practice.

Eating meat is bad enough, but eating meat as a form of sacramental experience is too much for these radical extremists. It is intolerable to them that animals should be killed religiously as a daily reaffirmation that God permitted the eating of animal meat. To me, the highest purpose of animals is to assist in furthering the spiritual development of humans. In exactly the same way, the highest purpose of minerals is to allow vegetation to grow and the highest purpose of grass is to enable the higher life-form of animals to thrive. Thus there is a violent collision of philosophies between secularism, as seen through the lens of extreme animal rights advocates, and religion. At its crux is the question of whether any external brake on my desires and appetites exists. [...] I am devoted to reaffirming the difference between humans and animals, which I do by eating meat every Sabbath. Animal rights secularists rightly recognize the danger that I represent to their worldview and eventually target ritual slaughter as practiced by religious Jews. [...]
It is important for Jews to realize that whenever this happens in modern, secularized societies it is always instigated by the Left. In Sweden, for example, it was not the traditional Lutheran clergy that supported the ban on ritual Jewish slaughter, it was the Left-wing animal rights enthusiasts.
(America's Real War
By rabbi Daniel Lapin :82-83)

Generally in American culture we do not realize all the sacrifices made for us, we don't have to look at all the animals slaughtered and so on. For the opposite view that perverts that basic natural categories of human and animal see: (Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, by Charles Patterson)

There is this small problem with it, given that the Nazis pioneered anti-vivesection laws. I.e. early animal rights laws. Hmmm, all the sacrifice of the animals for the sake of humans probably cannot be understood without some form of knowledge about the Lamb of God, ironically I think that some rabbis may have more knowledge about how sacred a sacrifice is than many American preachers.

Karl Kraus with his typical wit on the topic:
When someone has behaved like an animal, he says: 'I'm only human!' But when he is treated like an animal he says: 'I'm human too!'
(Half-Truths and One-and-A-Half-Truths :108)

Another contrast, the revival of an ancient form of paganism with the typical urge to merge:
A number of contemporary movements,including the animal rights movement (with its idea that man is no higher than animals), also exemplify the confusion. As animal liberationist and founder of PETA Ingrid Newkirk says, “a rat . . is a pig ... is a dog ... is a boy.” There are movements to break down the barriers between generations: Witness the recent change in the definition of pedophilia and the publishing of the double Journal of Homosexuality issue, “Male Intergenerational Love” (an apologia for pedophilia). Thus we see animal confused with human, sacred confused with profane, adult confused with child, male confused with female and life confused with death--all of these traditionally the most profound of distinctions and separations, are now under seige.
(Homosexuality and American Public Life
Edited by Chrisopher Wolfe,(Dallas: Spence Publishing Company)1999 :104-105)

As opposed to:
Most of the [Judaic] rules of the law of holiness relate to the basic categories of the natural world and of human experience. Such categories as the living and the dead; mortal and divine; human and animal; air, sea, and land; male and female; past, present and future are common to most peoples. They provide a framework of basic 'natural' categories that render the universe meaningful. What is peculiar to the Jewish people is that these natural categories are also moral categories and anything that is ambiguous or threatens to blur the boundaries of these categories is treated as abominable.
(Sexual Taboos and Social Boundaries
By Christie Davies
American Journal of Sociology,
Vol. 87, No.5, Mar., 1982 :1032-1063)

Some legal scholars have noted that given the modern normalization of homophilia (the subversion of male and female) there is little basis to "discriminate" against necrophilia (life and death), pedophilia (child and adult), zoophilia (human and animal) or any form of sexual disorientation. There are relatively few on the Left that are actually honest to their own weltanschauung though. Yet there are some who are like Peter Singer, Ingrid Newkirk and others.

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