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Daily Classes with Rabbi Gordon

Study the daily Chumash with Rashi, Tanya and Rambam with master teacher Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon.

Rambam: Beit Habechirah, Chapter 1

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Leah July 31, 2014

didn't painting the stone alter make it less smooth? I can understand the altar needed to be made of smooth stone, so smooth that a fingernail will not get caught on any part of it - but then, why paint it? The best paint job is never a perfect one, certainly not as smooth as marble or some other types of stone. The paint was to keep it cleaner, I understand, but didn't it interfere with its smoothness? Reply

Marty Denver July 30, 2013

To Mattie, take 2 I didn’t make myself clear. From R. Gordon’s comment that I cite in my 1st comment: Given: We can’t put a ‘sword to the stone but we can kill animals because the alter is life’ therefore it sounds as if stones are holier than animals. I was not comparing humans to animals as you suggest but trying to reconcile the concept that the alter is life given it was used for slaughtering animals. It could be argued that if we didn't sacrifice animals we would die as punishment, then the alter could be construed as life. But death was not the punishment if we didn’t make sacrifices. Other issues you raised: ‘An animal’s fear is not the same as a human.’
Actually, an animals’ fear is far more intense than human fear. They don’t have as much ability to reason as we do and it’s our reasoning that keeps fear in balance.

You ask, ’which would I rescue, a snake or a human?’ My answer is which would you rescue, your dog or Hitler? I don’t understand the reason for your 2 part answer: I didn’t say we enjoy killing animals nor did I suggest animals are more important than humans. But let’s look at how G-d views animals: Gen 1:29 He wants us to be vegetarian. In Gen 7:2 G-d refers to animals boarding the ark as husband and wife, the same as humans, rather than male and female. When G-d permits us to eat meat not because of lack of nutrition but as a concession to our weakness, He equates the animals’ blood with its soul in Gen 9:4 and in 4 other verses of the Torah. In Gen 9:9-10 G-d makes a covenant with the animals just as He did with humans. And we see in Numbers 11 that while G-d had provided us with vegetarian manna the people once again demanded meat. G-d sees it as lustful and the people get sick.

Clearly, G-d imbued animals with more similarities to humans than differences. And the more we learn about animals, the more likeness we see. You close by saying it is difficult to subsist on a vegetarian diet. Actually, vegetarians are healthier than omnivores with much less death from the two leading causes: heart disease and cancer.
So my question posted on 7/11/13 remains standing. Reply

Mattie BROOKLYN July 18, 2013

to Marty From your comment, I can see that you have a deep empathy for all living
beings. That is a beautiful attribute.

HaShem chose Moshe Rabbeinu to lead the Jews from Egypt after seeing the
kindness Moshe extended towards a thirsty sheep. But how much of Moshe's
kindness did the SHEEP really recognize? It is a sheep! We treat all living
things gently for ourselves, (not the animal) so that we develop our
compassionate side instead of our cruel. It is a delicate but important
distinction. Yes, an animal can be scared, but this is not the same 'fear'
that we as humans experience. An animal is not on the same level as a human.

Its important to make that distinction because otherwise one can get into
dangerous moral ground – in example, let’s say a person can only rescue
one: a rare species of snake or a human, which one? We know the human, but
PETA might say different....
Your question delved deeper, pointing out – since both killing animals, and
killing our enemies in self defense are both not sins...what is the
difference? 2 part answer:

1) Just because we are allowed to do something harsh, does not mean a Jew
enjoys it - that would turn us cruel

But why do we regret one killing more than another killing ?

2) Because - it was a killing of HUMANS, not animals. Humans are more
important than animals and killing a human is more harsh then killing an
animal.

You have so many good well thought out questions i wish i could answer them
all...
A part of your question operated under a misconception - why we are
permitted to eat meat. I will attempt to clarify - I hope I can...
when did humans begin to eat meat? It was after the great flood. G-d told
Noah he may eat meat.
One of the primary reason for this was because the flood waters contained
more than just water - substances that damaged the soil. Plants alone no
longer had enough concentrated nutrition/energy for man to easily subsist
on. As a kindness, G-d therefore permitted Noah to eat meat. Reply

Marty Denver July 17, 2013

To Mattie While killing animals isn't murder, neither is killing the enemy in warfare. So my question to reconcile killing and using sharp metal to make the Temple still stands. G-d only commanded us to sacrifice animals as a concession to our weakness. Look at Gen 1:29. It was G-d's desire that we be vegetarian. But we want to sacrifice something to someone we love or to whom we are in awe. G-d doesn't need our sacrifices, He sanctioned it just as He did with eating meat, because we wanted it. Regarding whether or not animal sacrifice is painful: Certainly the animals felt fear as they were led into the city. They were no longer enjoying the comfort of their herds or flocks; they were surrounded by crowds of people in a noisy city; as they approached the alter they smell the blood of animals killed before them; they are filled with fear; and despite the rules regarding shechita, we know from today's slaughterhouses that it is not always painless. Reply

mattie BROOKLYN July 15, 2013

animals are not people although we are forbidden to treat animals with cruelty, animals are not people and killing them is not on the level of murder -- taking away a human life. animals were put into this world by G-d and he commanded us to sacrifice them - the sacrifices were not painful to animals. Reply

Anonymous toronto July 11, 2013

commandments Charity , good deeds and studies are good commandments for the period of mourning. We all wait for the end of the mourning and a Jew more than others wait for the blessed House to be rebuild. Reply

Marty Denver July 11, 2013

Isn't sacrifice killing? At 41 minutes, we are told that "...swords, metal and iron can't touch the stones used for the alter; swords are used for killing, the alter is for life; killing and life don't mix..."
How do we reconcile that concept with the reality that the alter was used for animal sacrifice? Reply

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