100.07 Focus: Potential and the ‘Mitzvot’ (pps.75-78)
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been properly slaughtered, may be related, as well. Having entered a state of “nonpotentiality” by nonritual means, its purity level has been lowered to unacceptable levels.
An examination of the textual placement of these directives provides fascinating juxtapositions. The directive of kid/milk is stated three times. In its first two (Exodus 23:19, 34:26) it appears in the same verse as, and exclusively with, the directive of bikkurim. The third occurrence (Deuteronomy 14:21) appears in the same verse as, and exclusively with, the proscription of neveilah. The verse immediately following contains the directive of tithing. The underlying motif is not so obscure, after all.
Newtol Press, professor of biology at the University of Wis- consin, observes that the laws of kashruth, with regard to permitted and prohibited animals, have the clear effect of conserving the earth’s energy and the survivability potential of vulnerable species.268 In particular, the most vulnerable of the vertebrates, carnivorous animals, are protected by forbidding them as a source of food. Of the mammals, only herbivores that are also ruminants (e.g., cows) i.e., which can digest even plentiful grass, are permitted. This subset of vertebrates has the greatest chance of finding sufficient food, and it is this subset alone which is permissible as food. Aside from any other reasons for it, kashruth has the effect of preserving the ecological potential of planet earth.
Ideally, the Torah would have preferred vegetarianism, and indeed, this was the Torah position before the Flood. As a concession to mankind, the Torah permitted the slaughtering and consumption of animals. Within this context, the Torah then maximizes potential, as noted above.
While man is clearly given dominion over earth (Genesis 1:26, 9:2-3), he is also given the responsibility for preserving the earth. He must protect life-giving potential even in military
â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”- NOTES â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”â€”-
268 Newtol Press, “Kosher Ecology,” Commentary 79, no. 2 (February 1985).
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