Re: Genesis 9:1-4 - A Commentary on God's Concession to Eat Flesh by Frank L. Hoffman
Dear Frank and Mary,
Thanks so much for that. I love the book of Genesis and it is so much fun discussing and trying to illuminate it. I would like to comment as follows:
I totally agree that allowing humans to kill animals and eat meat is a divine compromise and a concession.
However, rather than saying that God "recognizes the evilness of the human heart," I would rather read into this that God sees humans as unfinished and on the long road toward evolution and perfection. The entire Hebrew Scriptures ("HS") take us on that journey and it is not until we come to the book of the Prophets and the promise of messianic perfection in "the end of days" when "the lion will lie down with the lamb" etc. that humans will have achieved that perfection -- to stop killing and eating animals and return to the Garden of Eden days of paradise.
Now, given that you are Christian you can offer some explanations gleaned from your knowledge of New Testament and Christianity. Being a Jew, let me offer some Jewish thought on this.
I really believe that one of the reasons for the whole concept of Kashruth (kosher) is that, even with God's divine concession here, one cannot take lightly the killing and eating the flesh thereof. It is not to be done frivolously, but, rather, serious enough for a ritual to take place around the eating of flesh to remind us ALWAYS, that it is not, as you say, God's will. Hence, the laws of Kashrut.
True, HS emphatically tells us that blood is life and we should not eat it.
The kosher Jewish ritual of "kashering" all meat reflects this...kashering consists of using what is called "kosher salt" (in reality, it is "koshering salt" originally used for this purpose) being liberally spread on all meat for at least an hour (those knowing more about it please correct me...I think it is an hour) to draw out all, or as much as possible, of the blood.
Observant Jews do not eat "rare" meat, but cook it thoroughly. But I agree with you, it is impossible to remove all of the blood...but at least there is a ritual recognition of the prohibition by salting meat. It is a very important aspect of "kashrut."
There are several other rules in kashrut: The slaughtering must be done by an extremely religious, knowledgeable and experienced person (man) who:
1. knows how to do it as painlessly as possible, and
2. will not be brutalized by the act of killing.
This is known as "kosher slaughter" which, unfortunately, has been seriously corrupted today, not by the Jewish practitioners themselves, but by the demands of mass murder slaughterhouses.
The Jewish practitioners are, of course, in my estimation, guilty of complicity here.
And of course, there is the ban on mixing milk and meat, for one does not
"seethe a kid in its mother's milk."
Interestingly enough, the ban on hunting is part of the laws of kashrut.
Observant Jews do not kill for fun or sport, but for sustenance or self-defense alone.
There's more, but I won't go into it here. For those who wish to explore this idea further, I recommend a very small little book called THE JEWISH DIETARY LAWS: THEIR MEANING FOR OUR TIME, by Rabbi Samuel H. Dresner.
You are quite right. Every single thing we eat has a special Hebrew blessing, thanking God for providing it before we eat it....except meat...there is no blessing of meat.
Ultimate kashrut is vegetarianism and when humans are evolved enough to accept that, the journey toward perfection is near its goal.
You say that "The word that is used in Genesis 9:4 for life is in reality "soul," ???"
No, the word for life is "chaim" (as in "l'chaim" "to life" ... a toast).
Soul is another word: "nefesh." Sometimes, the word "neshemah" is used from "l'nshom" which means to breath. "neshemah" is literally: a breather or one who breathes.
But the word "nefesh" is used in Gen. 9:4.
That Noah blessed only his sons and not his entire family including the women is merely a reflection of the patriarchal nature of the entire mythology of HS.
Let's continue this discussion.