Seven Laws

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Home :: Seven Laws :: Seventh Law is No Limb from Living Creature

Seventh Law is No Limb from Living Creature

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The Law originally sounds as Ever Min ha-Hai in Bible (Limb from Living Creature - Biblical language translation). That means the prohibition to eat any limb or flesh taken from animal still having signs of life after the slaughter executed. In some wider sense it's what is called cruelty regarding animal, coz in this case, according to Tora law, the animal is considered to be still alive, and it's strictly prohibited to accomplish any actions of dressing its carcass into separate parts with the purpose of using them for food afterwards.

Probably, you'll have a natural question while getting acquainted with this last one from Seven Laws. The previous six commandments quite meet generally accepted nowadays standards and world outlook. But how does No Limb from Living Creature Law correlate with all them? Is it so important? Is there so few problems in the people's world to take care about animals now? Will the taste and the quality of meat change due to a few seconds, one sometimes has to wait out coz of death agony of the animal? Both the Law's name sounds somehow repulsive. Indeed, on the face of it, the Seventh Law is somewhat enigmatic both by its wording and contents. It keeps aloof from all the others. The possible answer is this Law is precisely given to humankind so that it could prove to G-d it observes all Seven Laws not coz they're very logical and even the mind is inclined to them, but coz Creator Himself commanded so, and we're ready to unconditionally accept to execution His any orders. For this is how faithfulness and devotion is proved.

Besides, this is the only Law referred to the food. And so it's meant to teach us - even the process like eating can spiritually elevate a human if doing it according to Tora's laws. But what does the Law itself consists in?

Babylonian Talmud starts its approach to the commandment next way (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 59b):

"Rav Yehuda said, that Rav said: first man Adam was not allowed to eat meat, for it's written (Bereshit 1:29-30): Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing herb, which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit, it will be food to you. And to all the beasts of the earth... - But not the beasts of the earth themselves are to you. But when Noah Descendants came out of Ark, He permitted them, as it's written (Bereshit 9:3): Like the green vegetation, I have given you everything (vegetation that I permitted Adam to eat; but since now I have given you everything, even domestic and wild animals - RASHI's comment). I might think there's no prohibition to eat Limb from Living Creature in here, that's why Tora says (Bereshit 9:4): Only flesh with its soul its blood you shall not eat. I might think it refers to Shratzim (swarming - Biblical language translation; that is it's possible No Limb from Living Creature enlarges upon them as well - RASHI's comment) as well. That's why Tora says (Bereshit 9:4): Only... (that is it excludes, coz all words "only" in Scripture mean exclusion - RASHI's comment). On what basis such conclusion is made? Rav Huna said - its blood, that is for creature whose blood is different from its flesh. The Shratzim are excluded, coz their blood is not different from their flesh (for that reason it's said additionally about blood, coz otherwise it should be written simply: flesh with its soul you shall not eat, that is while there is soul in the flesh don't eat the flesh itself; why then it's written "with its soul its blood", well we all know the soul does be a blood; but it's said like that to teach you: the creature whose blood is different from its flesh, coz blood is called soul, and flesh is called flesh; thus the Shratzim are excluded from here, coz their blood is not different from their flesh, and their blood can't be called blood - RASHI's comment)."

Now we have to get down to biological classification of fauna according to Tora. Unlike in modern Biology, it consists from four large classes:

- Shratzim (swarming - Biblical language translation): here is included everything living that is a little taller from ground, like for example, fly among those winged; ants, beetles and worms among those creeping; mole, mouse, lizard and the like among those quadrupeds; and all fish (RASHI's comment on Tora, Bereshit 1:20);

- Ofot (birds - Biblical language translation): these are birds;

- Hayot (beasts - Biblical language translation): those are all wild beasts;

- Bhemot (cattle - Biblical language translation): all domestic cattle is included in here.

From here it's seen, that in the strict sence, the Law doesn't enlarge upon all possible Shratzim. One is allowed to eat them even alive, what, by the way, can often be watched now at different kinds of entertainment show on TV. But everything is much more complicated as for the mammals and the bird, and we should stop at that for more details.

First of all, what do we start to execute the given Law with? The answers is - from Shchita (cattle slaughter - Biblical language translation), which should be done according to Tora's requirements. We won't stop at its numerous rules and nuances. We only note, that according to Biblical law, the animal should be slaughtered by cutting off most of trachea and gullet with an instrument especially meant for that. Regarding the peoples of the world, this rule means that animal dies almost right away due to a slaughter done this way. And so the minimum of pain is caused to it. That's why from this point of view, Shchita by elictric discharge done today at most of modern farms corresponds to Scripture's requirements, beared to the peoples of the world as for that.

After Shchita is finished, one gets down to dressing animal's carcass into separate parts. Here is where the given Law starts working. No Limb from Living Creaure Law says that animal is prohibited to flay during all time it is in agony, that is body's movings of all kinds. Flayer should be especially attentive, coz sometimes the lasting convulsions are not so simple to recognize. And only after animal loses any signes of life, it is permitted to start cutting the carcass itself.

No Limb from Living Creature refers to any part of animal's flesh in its any volume.

Beasts and cattle requires Shchita. It's prohibited to start cutting its carcass during all time it's in agony.

Bird does not require Shchita according to RAMBAM's opinion and it requires Shchita according to RAAVAD's opinion. And as far as legislators' opinions are different, it's better to act according to the stricter one and not to start cutting bird's carcass during all time it's in agony.

Fish and all the Shratzim do not require Shchita. It's permitted to start cutting their carcass right away after catch.

It's permitted to suck out the blood from the wound - both one's own and somebody's else, coz according to Halacha (practical law - Biblical language translation), No Blood from Living Creature Law doesn't enlarge upon the peoples of the world.

We have already said above, that the given Law is, in a wider sence, Tora's prohibition to cause pain to animals. Rabbi Eliyahu Ki-Tov explains the Tora speaks about useless pain. However, animal slaughter is not considered to be causing of useless pain to animal: edible animals are slaughtered for the sake of food, and harmful animals are killed to prevent the damage they can cause. For each cattle will be slaughtered ultimately, and each beast will sometimes die. Animal's life shortening causes no damage to it. But it's prohibited to cause pain to animals without necessity. One may not offend and humiliate any animal, change its appearance - that is appearance it has since Hashem created it, coz G-d created everything for the sake of His glory and honour, and He cares for the honour of His creatures.

One should be very careful to observe this strict Biblical prohibition. It's prohibited to cause vain pain to any animal - neither domestic nor wild nor big nor tiny. All living creature are equal as for this commandment. When the living creature is tortured for one's own entertainment or for any other prohibited goal, then the given Law is infringed upon, and the cruelty is settled in one's heart. Then there appears more pain in the world and people avert G-d's mercy and kindness from themselves.

One should be especially careful regarding those animals that are in human's house either for his pleasure or for his needs - either it's cattle or beast or bird. Human's house should be the abode of mercy but not a tortures cell!

However, Tora doesn't recommend to hold at home such popular animals as cats or dogs. The matter is animals must live in their own environment. To make a roomy pet from cat or dog - means to change their nature, taking the animal from out of its natural inhabitance environment. House is human's abode, and one shouldn't turn it into the jail for animals, even if they feel comfortable in it. Coz to make prisoner love his cage is not the most humane attitude to "our smaller brothers". However, if there is already a pet in your house, one should not throw him out to the street after getting acquainted with Seventh Law. Coz those who leave animal after making it attached to them - such people do even worse. Once some one took the obligation to look after the animal - he has no right to break it. That's why it's better not to take it from the very beginning.

The Sages repeatedly warned us from causing pain to animals living in human's house (Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Ktubot 4):

"A human may take a cattle, a beast or a bird only providing he already stored up food for them."

Besides, it's prohibited to start a meal if food for pet is not prepared yet (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Brakhot 40a):

"Rav Yehuda said, that Rav said - a human may not eat before he'll give a food to his cattle, since it's written (Dvarim 11:15): And I will give grass in your field for your livestock, and you will eat and be sated."

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