#YuLin -Food For Thought

I recently learned of this festival that will be happening this week that I had never heard of called YuLin, but since I first heard about it the event news has gone viral.  For anyone not familiar:

Now, if everything that is being reported about this festival is true, this would clearly be an event that we as rabbis could sanction for anyone. Forget about kashrut (Jewish dietary law):

  • Gluttony: As much as Jewish festivals involve food, and they do, the focus is not the food (believe it or not).  The meal is the setting by which we discuss and express the lessons of the day.  The best example of course is matza, the lechem oni.  Lechem oni means poor man’s bread, but with a slight vocalization change to lechem ahni becomes the bread of answering (Maharal), the bread that we discuss the Exodus over.  There is no Jewish festival where the purpose is to binge eat on a food as an end unto itself.
  • Animal Cruelty: Although there is no specific verse that says “don’t mistreat animals”, the sentiment is expressed in a number of different mitzvot (commandments) such as the mitzah not to allow an animal of your enemy to buckle under its load and the mitzvah to give an animal food before you eat.  The Aruchot Tzaddikim is clear the prohibition on animal cruelty is Biblical.  The packing in of multiple dogs into a single cage such as is seen in the pictures would seem to violate this ordinance.
  • Theft: Reports on the dog meat trade have shown that often it is not just farm-raised dogs that are consumed but any dogs that dog meat traders can get their hands on.  This can mean stealing pet dogs for the purpose of resale as meat.  The industry is not regulated and there is no one to check where the meat came from.   While it is not clear to me if the prohibition of lifnei ivir (causing someone else to sin) apply here in a strict sense (the laws are quite complicated and I need to make a further study of them),  demanding a product that causes others to do wrong in order for you to get it is probably not a product you should consume if avoidable.

Still, I wanted to ask a sort of hypothetical question, given the fact that one of the main arguments for stopping it is that there is something unconscionable about eating man’s best friend.  Is it more wrong to eat a dog than a pig or a cow? From the standpoint of kashruth, there is no difference eating a pig or a dog.  Both are non-kosher animals and are therefore forbidden for a Jew to consume while the cow is fine even for Jews, as eating meat is permissible according to Judaism.   The only restriction that Judaism places on non-Jews (to the extent that a non-Jew would listen to what we have to say) is the restriction to eat meat torn from a living animal, which is one of the seven mitzvot of Bnei Noah, seven commandments given to all of Mankind.  The fact of the matter is that the entire concept of a dietary restriction is a very recent development in human history, rather than the obvious restriction of scarcity.

I realize some of what I’ve said to this point might be considered upsetting to some.  “Isn’t there something special about dogs and cats?” some may ask.  Well, the fact of the matter is that according to Judaism everything in Creation has something special.  There is a midrash (early rabbinic work) called Perek Shira*, which quotes a verse from the Bible that each plant and animal “sings” as praise to G-d.  In addition, there are other rabbinic works that discuss the virtues that different animals have.  So I shall share a bit about the dog and the cat, perhaps to explain why they are so special to us.

The Dog: The Hebrew word of Dog is kelev, which can be broken apart to mean ‘close to the heart’.  Dogs in fact are close to the hearts of people, and have been for millennia.   One special things that the Torah mentions is that dogs have a special merit that they did not screech and howl as the Jews left Egypt during the Exodus.

The Cat: Cats are praised in the Talmud for having the special virtue of modesty.  Anyone who has a cat knows they are fastidious and clean up after themselves in their litter boxes.   The Torah also takes time to mention how a soldier should carry a spade to clean up after himself (Dt. 23:13).  We learn from this that there is a special protective power to being modest, and we should be very careful in this regard.   *h/t to Rav Lazar Brody for the free translation

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2 Responses to #YuLin -Food For Thought

  1. Mr. Cohen says:

    COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT OF:

    Boo Hoo Palestine
    by Pat Condell, 2014 October 20

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvTgqBluojM

    Despite the recent enthusiasm we have seen in the West for recognizing the non-existent country of Palestine, the much-vaunted Two-State-Solution is a fantasy, that has no chance of leading to peace; because the Palestinians, or to use the correct term, Arabs, have proven beyond any doubt that they are not negotiating in good faith, that they cannot be trusted to keep their word, and that any agreement they sign will be worthless.

    They initiate all the violence in the region, and they break every cease-fire, because they do not want negotiations or a Two-State-Solution, and they are not even keeping it a secret. They keep telling us: they want a One-State-Solution with no Israel and no Jews; and they pledged to never stop fighting until that day comes; both Hamas and the supposedly-moderate Fatah [PLO]; and we have no excuse for not listening.
    But we will find one, as usual, won’t we?

    Any agreement they do sign will be simply a stepping-stone to a better vantage-point from which to attack and destroy Israel; every Arab knows this is true. So any future Palestinian State will be like Gaza is today: a racist apartheid state, devoid of Jews on pain-of-death; and a launch-pad for daily rocket-attacks on Israeli civilians, until the Israelis finally lose patience and retaliate, and the world condemns them as Nazis.

    The pattern has been set:

    Palestinian terrorism is always rewarded, and that it why it never stops.
    And we in the West are helping to bankroll it; we can’t throw enough money their way. So much money that the leaders of Hamas, supposedly former refugees, are personal billionaires, while the people they claim to represent live in misery.

    Killing Jews for Allah is very lucrative, because it is popular with the rest of the world; if it were not popular, it would not be lucrative.

    And this despite the fact that Israel has NEVER initiated violence against any of its neighbors; it has only ever responded to it. The Israeli Army takes more care than any other to minimize civilian casualties, and everybody knows this; but this is never a feature of any news report, because it sends the wrong message; it tells the truth.

    But despite the media’s criminal dishonesty and bias, many people are now beginning to see for themselves, even if they can’t quite bring themselves to admit it, yet, that Arab/Muslim Jew-hatred is root-cause of this problem; it is the poison at the heart of it, and until it is confronted and dealt with, honestly and effectively, by the rest of us, including especially the media, the Two-State-Solution will remain self-congratulatory fantasy of stupid Western politicians.

    But something else that really does not help the emotional temperature of the situation is the fact that the Arabs are clearly jealous of Jews. And with good reason; they can see the disproportionate contributions that Jews have made to human advancement, in contrast to their own contribution, which is virtually nil. And they can see what a civilized and prosperous society the Jews have created in their midst, in contrast to their own racist, misogynist and deeply ignorant culture, with its childish honor-shame culture, which has no honor, and of which they ought to be ashamed.

    Also, the Jews have given the Arabs a tidy spanking, several times, when attacked unprovoked, despite being heavily outnumbered. It seems that everything the Jews do, they do better. No wonder the Arabs are jealous. It must infuriate them that they very people their infallible religion [Islam] depicts as inferior, as apes and pigs, have turned out to be clearly superior; that has got to hurt!

    And it must infuriate them to know that the world is openly patronizing them by giving them all this unwarranted attention and money. We all know they do not deserve it, and if they were measured by the standards we apply to everyone else, they would not get it. But we hold Arabs to lower standards; we expect less of them, because we are racists.

    And they are so stupid and self-indulgent, they milk it for all it is worth, and they end up expecting less of themselves, a lot less, which is exactly what they get. And it is what we all get, when show yet again, that they cannot be trusted, by breaking yet another cease-fire, by attacking innocent women and children in the most cowardly way, and are not held to account for it; but on the contrary, are rewarded, yet again.

    That is why this conflict is self-perpetuating. That is why the Two-State-Solution is a fantasy, and for once, we in the eternally guilt-ridden West really can’t blame ourselves.

    MICROBIOGRAPHY:
    Pat Condell is an atheist, who was born in Ireland around 1950 CE, and raised in England as a Roman Catholic, and educated in Church of England schools.

    *** THE END ***

  2. Mr. Cohen says:

    COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT OF:

    Patronising the Palestinians
    by Pat Condell, 2013 January 3
    SOURCE:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzCIckbZKUs

    Well, a happy New Year to everyone; I hope we all get what we want this year.
    And for my part, I would like to see a change in our racist attitude in the West, towards the situation in the Middle East, if that would not be too much trouble.

    Because right now, we patronize the Palestinians, by holding them to a lower standard of behavior, as we do with all Arabs, because we are racists. We would never admit this of course; we would not want our racism to be perceived as racist, because then we would have to own-up to it, and that might short-circuit our poor, deluded, hypocritical, racist brains.

    Because we are racists, we choose to ignore the fact that they deliberately target women and children, while hiding behind their own women and children, which is a war crime, and they do it ALL the time. Yet we know there is not a hope in Hell that any of them will ever be tried in The Hague, because we have given them a free-pass on indiscriminate barbarism. We do not believe they are capable of civilized behavior, because we are racists.

    Being racists, we choose to ignore the thousands of Iranian rockets that come out of Gaza every month, until Israel finally retaliates to protect its people, and only then do we start huffing and puffing, and calling-in ambassadors.

    Israelis get no credit AT ALL for carefully avoiding civilian casualties, even though it is not in dispute that that is what they do; we just ignore it. When, if the Palestinians would behave like that, we would trumpet their virtues from the rooftops, and shower them with Nobel Prizes. But they do not behave like that, because we do not expect them to, and they know that. They know they can blow-up Israeli civilians ALL-day-long, and the free-world’s racist double-standards will NEVER hold them to account.

    On the contrary, we actively encourage their delinquent culture to become even more delinquent, by consistently indulging and rewarding its delinquent behavior with political support and billions of dollars; and then we will wring our hands, and wonder why nothing changes.

    The Palestinians are victims, yes, but of their own insane and bloodthirsty leadership. And of a religion [Islam] that has such an iron-grip on it population that a mother will actually celebrate the death of her child in its cause, and dissent from it can literally cost you your life.

    Yet we pretend that the influence of this religion is absolutely zero, and that this is actually a political situation. We maintain the ludicrous fiction that the Arabs are fighting for justice and civil rights, when we can see the kind of justice and civil rights that have been delivered to the people of Gaza, under the religious jackboot of Hamas.

    We choose to ignore the fact that Arabs in Israel have more rights than they do in ANY Arab country, and that there are Arab Israelis in government and in the army, because these facts are inconvenient to our Liberal-racist-prejudice, and they shatter the carefully-nurtured propaganda myth of the apartheid state.

    Beings racists, we choose to ignore the history of the region, and the fact that every time the Arabs feel strong enough, they attack Israel unprovoked, with the intention of committing religious genocide. And they make no secret of it. We know the [Palestinian] refugee situation only exists because the last time they did this, they told Arabs living in the West Bank to move out and promised them they could return when all the Jews had been killed. They are still waiting, and the agenda has not changed.

    And the agenda is NOT territory or justice as we so dishonestly like to pretend.
    The agenda is religious blood vengeance, fulfilling Islamic scripture and wiping-out the Jews: ALL of them! Islamic-Jew-hatred, as mandated by the Koran, which was around long-before the State of Israel, as drummed-into the children, and is broadcast every day in the Arab media, is the root-cause of this problem.

    And for us in the West to pretend otherwise is as irresponsible as treating a bullet-wound without removing the slug; we are just messing-around with the symptoms and making things worse.

    Nothing is going to change in the Middle East until we pay the Arabs the compliment of holding them to the same standard as everyone else. And that means cutting-off the money-supply and telling them bluntly, that it is time to drop this infantile Bronze-Age blood-vengeance-crap, and move into the 21st-Century, because we are all waiting for them. If we do not do this, if we carry-on indulging their primitive caveman-hatred, by treating this as political problem, and not a religious one, then we are effectively underwriting permanent war in the Middle-East; because whether we like it or not, Israel is certainly now the front-line between Islam and civilization.

    And we should know by now that there is no compromise with Islam; you either win, or you lose; and if you lose, you lose everything, especially if you are Jewish.

    And the Palestinian leadership have made it crystal-clear, that as long as there is ANY level of Jewish autonomy in the Middle East, NOTHING that Israel concedes will ever be enough to satisfy them. They do not want peace at any price; they want to drive the Jews, ALL of them, into the Sea. And they never stop telling us that. We have no excuse for pretending not to hear.

    It is written right-into the Hamas charter; it runs through every speech they make. And according to the leader of Hezbollah:
    Quote: “It is an open war until, until the elimination of Israel, and until death of the last Jew on Earth, unquote.” How many times do they have to say it, before we finally snap-out of our patronizing, Liberal-racist, stupor, and start listening?

    MICROBIOGRAPHY:
    Pat Condell is an atheist, who was born in Ireland around 1950 CE, and raised in England as a Roman Catholic, and educated in Church of England schools.

    ***** THE END *****

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