The Privilege To Eat Kosher Meat

In Parsha Re’eh, Devarim 12:20-21, B’nai Yisrael are given permission to eat unconsecrated meat-animals that are slaughtered for their meat even if they are not being brought as Korbanot (offerings): “When God will enlarge your border, as He has promised you, and you shall say, ‘I would eat meat,’ for you have a desire to eat meat, to your heart’s entire desire may you eat meat. If the place that God will choose to place His name will be far from you, you may kill from your herd and from your flock, which God has given you, in the way I have commanded you and you shall eat in your cities according to your heart’s entire desire.”


Rashi points out that when B’nai Yisrael were in the desert, the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was with them all of the time so they were able to bring Shlamim offerings every day if they wanted to. Now some people will live too far from the Mishkan and eventually too far from the Bet HaMikdash (Temple).


Ramban adds that once B’nai Yisrael are spread out throughout the Land of Israel then they can all eat meat, as long as it is slaughtered correctly, without any connection to a Korban.


Rashi continues that although we don’t see the laws of Shechita (ritual slaughter) in the Torah, we learn in Masechet Chulin 28a that the fact that the Torah says “commanded you” refers to the oral laws of Shechita which were passed down to Moshe on Mt. Sinai.


These laws of Shechita have been passed down in an unbroken chain from Mt. Sinai until today. The laws are defined in the Talmud, Masechet Chulin and in the Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 1-28.


Slaughtering the animal becomes a more elevated procedure as the Shochet (Ritual Slaughterer) recites the following blessing before slaughtering the animal: “Blessed are you…Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us concerning Shechita.”


Nehama Leibowitz points out that “Rav Kook regarded all of the Biblical dietary laws- ritual slaughter, covering the blood etc. as designed to arouse man to the injustice committed against the animal kingdom, even to the extent of making him ashamed of his actions.”


In the words of Rav Kook: “The Divine instructions regulating the consumption of meat lead gradually to the desired spiritual goal. Only limited species of animals are permitted, those suited to man’s dietary requirements. Man must cover the blood, hide your shame! These actions will bear fruit and ultimately educate mankind…The very nature of the principles of ritual slaughter with their specific rules and regulations designed to reduce pain, create the atmosphere that you are not dealing with a helpless unprotected object …but with a living being.”


We see from here that although B’nai Yisrael are permitted to slaughter animals and eat meat, it must be done in an ethical and moral way.