(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 21:26:59 -0400 (EDT)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Vegetarianism

QUESTION: In discussing the
permissibility to eat meat  someone says  that: <  <  ...The same ought to be true
about vegetarianism. The laws are difficult and complicated. I think G-d
was hoping we'd "grow out of it"....>  >

But by analogy, the laws of family purity governing a couples right to
intimacy are difficult and complicated. By analogy, are we to say that G-d
wants us to "outgrow" our desire to be with our mates?

Rather I would suggest the following alternative solution which I heard
from the Rav, Rabbi Dr Joseph B Soloveitchick. The Rav in fact asked point
blank if Judaism wants us to pursue pleasure or shun it. The Rav based his
answer on a comment by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch to Gen 2:15 which Rav
Hirsch translates "And G-d placed Adam in the Garden of Pleasure to watch
and serve the pleasure" (Rav Hirsch's interpretation is based on the fact
that Pleasure is feminine and Garden is masculine).

The Rav then asked that if Judaism wanted man to have pleasure why did it
have so many complicated and difficult laws ).  The
Rav answered that G-d wanted man to pursue pleasure but did not want that
pursuit to be hypnotic. In previous issues of Torah Forum I have used the
term "impetuous"--G-d did not want man to be impetuous in his pursuit of
pleasure. The stronger the pleasure the more complicated the laws....the
goal is to prevent impetuousness.

Returning to our discussion we see that G-d wants man to eat meat, and have
relations with his mate...he just doesn't want this pursuit to be impetuous
and hypnotic. It is true  that Dt 21:10-14 is interpreted
as a concession to human weakness---but that is only because the Bible
explicitly identifies the chapter that way.

In passing: True Judaism allows man to be vegetarian 99% of the time...but
one is **required** to eat meat on the Festivals (in Temple times).

Russell Jay Hendel