Sunday, 23 March 2014

A note on Kosher slaughter

One of the challenges that the Orthodox community faces is the current campaign against Jewish ritual slaughter which, along with male circumcision, is one of the targets of the so-called enlightened liberal brigade, especially bodies such as the national secular society. Indeed a couple of weeks ago one of Britain's leading vets also got into the act as well, thus forcing David Cameron to publicly confirm that he would not be seeking to legislation to ban Kosher slaughter in the UK (to the Israeli Knesset).

What absolutely and utterly gets on my wick, is that we have a bunch of people (the National Secular Society)  who go around and say religion shouldn't interfere with society or politics, and yet here we have a group that wishes to poke its nose into a religious practise and belief. Secondly, it seems to me that  when discussing ritual slaughter, people portray our religion as being anti-animal welfare, which is the biggest load of cock ever .The  is a Jewish concept of 'Tza'ar Ba'alei Chayim', that is regarding cruelty to animals which is prohibited under Jewish law, this says a great deal about looking after animals, as various Biblical quotes indicate. I'd say that this is one thing opponents of Kosher slaughter in the the National Secular Society and other lobby groups, don't quite grasp, that Judaism has always taken animal welfare seriously, long, long before the west started to legislated against animal cruelty (Jews are even forbidden to hunt for sport), so I spot the rich irony here of animal rights activists jumping up and down about the 'barbarity' of Kosher slaughter. 

In terms of why we do not 'stun' animals, the most straightforward & blunt approach is to say that for us these methods of slaughter were divinely given teachings to us, from G-d via Moses, to follow for all time and as understood and explained in our Oral Torah and the vast bulk of Jewish legal opinion throughout the centuries. But OK if you are not Jewish then this argument means nothing, but there is also a secular argument to put forward a well, which I will now discuss.

In respect of stunning, the difficulty for us here is that we cannot eat an animal that has been injured before slaughter and stunning is seen as injuring an animal. In respect of stunning itself, I’d say that there is no guarantee that the animal is being rendered insensible to pain, the animal could in fact be only part paralysed, so all you are seeing is the animal being unable to express its pain .Furthermore sometimes stunning fails and means the animal has to be re-stunned which doubtless increases the animal’s suffering and this in what will be an extremely stressing ‘mechanical’ environment for the animal; whereas in Jewish Kosher slaughter, this is less mechanical as it is done by hand, by a trained professional called a shochet (who has to follow various rules of the method of slaughter). Shechita avoids these problems, as there are no mechanical or electrical appliances that can go wrong. The Schechita produces an effective and irreversible stun as well as being humane and efficient slaughter method.

Of course, I suspect most of this will fall of deaf ears.Most of the time, people don't bother with facts, but leap on the anti-religious bandwagon, which is a pity, given that the claim to authority by secularists is one of rationality, fact checking and erudite logic...

17 comments:

  1. This is the new form of anti-semitism. The Nazis claimed they were superior because of being rational.

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  2. Mancurian Womble23 March 2014 at 16:35

    pure, unadulterated bigotry disguised as concern for animals. The animal welfare people need to deal with battery-raised chickens and unsanitary slaughterhouses before daring to preach to Muslims or Jews in this respect. Such chutzpah!

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  3. London's Willy23 March 2014 at 16:36

    Any religion that prioritises the method of slaughter of an animal, above the most humanitarian method available is to me not worth following. Using methods laid down over 2000 years ago, which were then the most humane available, and resisting any change since, is just stupidity. The Jewish religion is cruel & inhumane and obviously not interested in the welfare of their livestock.If we had learned anything profound from over 2000 years of Jewish religion we would all be vegetarian...

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  4. Atheist Shrugged23 March 2014 at 16:38

    A pathetic effort at justifying methods of slaughter that, when looked at from a scientific viewpoint are clearly cruel. I totally agree with the Danish position that animal welfare trumps religion

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    1. Atheist this isn't the case. There is no definitive argument to say that Kosher slaughter is worse than non Kosher slaughter.

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  5. I saw a documentary which graphically portrayed animal slaughter in an abattoir in the north of England. Halal and Kosher slaughter was depicted alongside conventional slaughter with the animals electrically stunned before they were dispatched. I came away from the documentary feeling that if anything I'd be more comfortable eating Halal or Kosher meat than other meat in future.
    The Halal and Kosher butchers were very devout men who clearly believed it was their religious duty to ensure the animals under their knives died with a minimum of suffering. The animals they killed died very quickly. On the other hand, the slaughtermen who worked on the regular production line seemed bored and unmoved by the potential suffering of the animals they killed. It was just a job to them, and a pretty disgusting, poorly paid one at that. They revealed that pigs regularly died from stress-induced heart attacks whilst waiting to be slaughtered. Completely humane? I don't think so. Pigs are highly intelligent animals (on a par with dogs), and they are often able to work out what's happening to them. Observant Jews and Muslims don't eat them at all.
    If you're going to eat meat, you need to be realistic about where it comes from. An element of suffering is inevitable. Instead of picking on religious minorities, we ought to be looking to our own house. I'd make the reform of pig slaughter a much higher priority with regards to animal welfare than Halal or Kosher butchery.

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  6. Minorities do have rights but their rights should not infringe the rights of others.

    Halal and Kosher infringes the rights of animals and there is a vocal animal rights and animal welfare movement who will speak up just as loudly as these religious groups who are infringing the rights of animals.Animal welfare should be the only consideration here and anyone who argues otherwise is simply immoral, IMO

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    1. Funny that the secular world thinks nothing of slaughtering human babies, but gets all worked up on how (not whether ) a cow or sheep should be slaughtered. This is bloody queer in your ask me.

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  7. Kosher slaughter is barbaric! Ban it now!

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  8. Hi David,

    I like the post, but is it just me or has this boiled down to you're an anti-semite if you don't agree with Kosher slaughter and if you do you are an animal hater? The dialogue is disappointing isn't it?

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  9. Hannah,

    I'd agree the debate gets a bit stale, but I think you can appreciate that previous attacks on Jewry were done via attacking circumcision and slaughter practices, so one can see why members of the community would feel this way... the dialogue doesn't have to be one-sided. If atheists/secularists deny that they are being anti-semitic I'd suggest that they refine their rhetoric. Of course anyone is free to pop a comment here about that and or send over an email via our feedback form. This is a forum for debate, so live bullets, as it were, will be fired.

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  10. I've posted before on this subject on another blog, but I'll cross post it here.

    While not making a direct comment on Halal/Kosher slaughter which as a small animal veterinary surgeon I don't consider myself qualified to do, I will say this.

    In the course of the compulsory abbatoir attendance in my fourth year at veterinary college, and subsequently working with slaughter teams in Devon during the foot and mouth outbreak, I have severe doubts about whether our standard slaughter methods class as significantly more humane than religious slaughter. There are abuses of any system and any method is no better (or worse) than the people trained to do it, whose quality of training can be horrifically variable.

    Having said that, I do have an issue with the labeling (or failure to label) of meat. I consider that if people do have an objection to religious slaughter of animals, they should not be put in the position where they simply have no way of telling whether the meat has been produced in that manner or not.

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    1. Greetings Sister Tibs,

      I 100% support the idea of correct food labeling in respect of food products. If I may also opine, I'd like to see the restoration of the local independent butcher and fishmonger, as you are (in my view) far more likely to get quality meat. To me, how the animal is slaughtered is one part of the issue. The other is, who is the animal treated in life? This is reflected in the quality of the food. For example, eggs. There is a big different IMHO between butcher's eggs and even the 'free range' produce in supermarkets.

      Oh, and btw,when I was in my 'secular Jewish' phase, I did eat the occasional pork sausage/ bacon butty. And if I may end this little note in a lighthearted way :

      A Catholic Priest, Peter D, and Rabbi Rav Kav, are seated next to one another on a plane. During the flight, the Priest says, "Tell me, rabbi, is it still a requirement of the Jewish faith that you do not eat pork?" "That is the case, yes," says the Rabbi. "But tell me, did you ever get tempted - did it ever appeal so much that you couldn't resist and decided to see what, say, bacon tasted like?" the priest goes on. "Yes, father, there was one occasion when, as a young man, the smell of bacon became too much of a temptation and I tasted it," the rabbi admits. "And how did you find it?" asks the priest. "Well, says the Rabbi, "Since we are both men of God and being honest with one another, I must confess it was excellent. I enjoyed it very much. But I never ate it ever again." The Priest sits back, looking smug. Later during the flight, the Rabbi says to the Priest, "Tell me, father - is it still a requirement of your own faith that you do not have sexual intercourse?" "Why yes," says the Priest, "That is indeed true." "But were you ever tempted, even once, to see what sexual intercourse is like?" the Rabbi continues. "Well, as you were so honest with me, I must confess that indeed, once, when I was a young man, I did have sexual intercourse with a woman," the Priest tells him. "Beats the hell out of a bacon sandwich, doesn't it?" says the Rabbi.

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    2. I'd agree with Sister Tib's observations on proper labeling. It is only fair that the customer is informed. Great joke Dave. Not sure if it is very ecumenical.

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  11. Sister Tibs,

    How are you? We remembered you during our morning and afternoon prayers today.

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  12. To be honest, I'm never quite sure about religious slaughter, but I do support it. First because I support the Jewish faith in general. And secondly I distrust the motley crew that opposes Kosher slaughter. I agree that packaging is a good compromise.

    Sister Tibs, God be with you.

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  13. Judaism has existed since time immemorial; Judaism is the last defense against evil. An evil that the rest of mankind has no idea even exists.

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