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Sunday, July 28, 2013

To Rabbi Potasnik, About Ritual Slaughter and Poland

Rabbi Potasnik:

On your WABC "Religion on the Line" program this morning, you said a few words in rapid succession: "Poland," "ritual slaughter ban," "the Holocaust." Unless I missed it, you did not allow a Polish person, or a PETA representative, on your show to offer a differing point of view.

There are ample and sound humanitarian reasons for being concerned about ritual slaughter. A quick glance at youtube videos posted by PETA reveals ritual slaughter – at least the slaughters exposed in these PETA videos – to involve unnecessary suffering for animals. It is important to note that Philip and Hannah Schein, PETA activists against ritual slaughter, are Jews who have worked at campus Hillel centers. There are Jews who feel that opposition to ritual slaughter need not compromise Jewish observance or identity.

More importantly, the Holocaust was a product of Nazi Germany, not Poland. There are all too many voices that attempt to turn the Holocaust into a Polish-Catholic project. It was not, and this profound historical distortion disserves us all.

If, as PETA alleges, ritual slaughter necessitates unnecessary suffering for animals, then it should be looked at. There are devout Jews who have done so, and who argue on both sides of the issue. This conversation does not harm Jews; it will help non-Jews to understand Jewish culture better. To equate anyone who questions ritual slaughter with Nazi Germany is an alarmist and unhelpful approach.


  1. I have been thinking about this. As a Christian, I understand why meat should be properly bled. The law forbidding the eating of blood was given to Noah, and hence to all humankind. It was, of course, part of the Mosaic Law, and was enjoined on the newly formed Christian congregation even though they were not under the Law.

    Acts 15:28, 29 says: “The holy spirit and we ourselves [the governing body of the Christian congregation] have favored adding no further burden to you, except these necessary things, to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled [or, killed without draining their blood] and from fornication. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!”

    There the eating of blood is equated with idolatry and fornication, things clearly forbidden by God.

    So,as a Christian, I would want Poland to be a country where meat was properly bled, but in the most humane way possible. This new law seems to be in line with that.

    Should Poland change the law because of instant accusations of its being "anti-semitic" etc...?

    I don't know. And its not for me to say. My own thought is that, given we are called "anti-semitic" whatever we say or do, there doesn't seem much point factoring that into the decision, whatever it may prove to be.

    1. Sue do you really think consuming blood is immoral?

      Certainly all meat contains blood. there is no reasonable way to remove all blood from meat for consumption.

    2. The Christian Greek Scriptures equate the eating of blood with idolatry and fornication, so yes I do think its wrong.

      What God asks is that the meat is properly bled - clearly we can't remove every single trace.

      When we were given permission to kill and eat the animals after the flood, Jehovah said this: Gen. 9:3, 4: “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you. As in the case of green vegetation, I do give it all to you. Only flesh with its soul—its blood—you must not eat.”

      This was clearly understood by the early Christians. I have a couple of quotes here that I hope might help:

      Tertullian (c. 160-230 C.E.): “Let your unnatural ways blush before the Christians. We do not even have the blood of animals at our meals, for these consist of ordinary food. . . . At the trials of Christians you [pagan Romans] offer them sausages filled with blood. You are convinced, of course, that the very thing with which you try to make them deviate from the right way is unlawful for them. How is it that, when you are confident that they will shudder at the blood of an animal, you believe they will pant eagerly after human blood?”—Tertullian, Apologetical Works, and Minucius Felix, Octavius (New York, 1950), translated by Emily Daly, p. 33.

      Minucius Felix (third century C.E.): “So much do we shrink from human blood, that we do not use the blood even of eatable animals in our food.”—The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, Mich.; 1956), edited by A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, Vol. IV, p. 192.

  2. I've had very little Jewish education, but it was my understanding that part of the purpose behind the kosher slaughter rules is to cause the animal as little pain as possible. (For example, that's why the knife has to be very sharp.) If that isn't how it's working in practice -- and I do mean if -- I would think orthodox Jews would want to know that.

    1. Karen my post was mostly a response to Rabbi Potasnki's "Poland / ritual slaughter ban / Holocaust" comment, rather than an assessment of ritual slaughter.

      I read posts on the web that say that if it is done right, it is relatively painless.

    2. I suspect that if we spent a day in a Slaughterhouse, of any persuasion, we would probably never eat meat again. I eat very little as it is.

      But of course, doesn't producing dairy products also involve cruelty? We are in a world ruled by Satan, after all.

      IF I am understanding this right, in this particular method of slaughter, the animal is hoisted into the air by its hind legs and then its throat is cut. I personally much prefer the method by which the animal is stunned first.

      However, above all, I long for the day when Paradise is restored and we no longer kill and eat the animals, and they no longer kill and eat each other (or us!).

  3. Hello,
    As a Pole living in Poland I would want to set something straight. Ritual slaughter is banned in Poland, that is true. Kosher and halal meat cannot be produced for export. Jewish community is still producing kosher meat for it's own needs. They use some loophole. There is a regulation from 1997 that guarantees the right for Jews to perform ritual slaughter. It must be performed by a qualified shochet. This regulation conflicts with the current law, but I'm sure that a compromise can be found.
    I'm worried about hysterical reaction in other countries. It does more harm than good. We don't like lecturing, meddling and we hate to be blamed for genocidal activities of foreign invaders.
    Personally I like Jews. They have the courage to disagree with others. Even with other Jews. It's such a beautiful character trait.