Dominion: Comments and Discussion


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Dominion: Comments and Discussion
Comments by Richard Schwartz - 5 Mar 2010

Thanks for your thoughtful response, Ruth,

I believe that to a large extent Judaism teaches Ahimsa. In some ways it goes beyond it in the following sense. First, it teaches that if a person has a pet, he or she must see that the pet is fed before sitting down to his or her own meal. Also, if a person is kind to animals because he or she believes it is a commandment from God, then he or she perhaps might be more diligent in going further in that kindness or perhaps less likely to slip up.

Since I am trying to make changes in the Jewish community (others as well, but at least initially the Jewish community), I have to, in effect, play by the rules. I can't give people a chance to change the subject away from the discrepancies between Jewish teachings and the realities of how animals are treated.

Judaism does teach that only humans are created in God's image. But this should mean that people should copy God's attributes of compassion and justice, so this should be an argument for better treatment of animals and the earth.

I believe that Judaism teaches that animals should not be mistreated or killed unless necessary for a basic human need that cannot be easily met in any other way. So, for example, if a person was on an island and could only live if he or she killed an animal and ate it, that would be permissible. But, I have been arguing for years that people can be properly nourished on plant foods and therefore there is no need to eat meat and thus Jews should be vegans.

The problem is that Jews, like people in most religions are finding ways to avoid basic Jewish teachings. I have argued that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate at least 6 basic Jewish mandates, and trying to establish dialogues/debates on "Should Jews be Vegetarians?" But the Jewish community has basically been avoiding the issue.

This is why I have been writing a book "They Stole My Religion" for many years, often stopping for long periods because of the controversial nature of the material, which will probably ostracize me from much of the Jewish community. But, with the world now rapidly approaching an unprecedented climate catastrophe which will be devastating for all life on the planet, I have decided that I must complete the book and hope to do soon. In it I will make a strong case for veganism and an end of abuses of animals, based on Jewish teachings.

So, once again I urge you to challenge Jews to live up to their highest teachings, rather than seeking to have them adopt something they might think is alien to their religion. As you know, there is a long history of attempts to get Jews to change their religions, and this is one reason that it is better to try to get Jews to apply their religious teachings rather than changing them, especially when there are many Jewish teaching that are very applicable.

Best wishes,