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The Torah does permit meat-eating
The April 14 edition of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle included a column by Jeffrey Spitz Cohan (“Did the Torah warn us about COVID-19?”) in which Mr. Cohan asserts that the Torah tells us that animal consumption leads to deadly plagues.

As proof, Cohan cites the virus that infected and killed many Israelites who complained about their steady diet of manna and who ate the quail that God provided instead of the manna. This is a vast oversimplification. This plague occurred not because the Israelites ate animal meat, but because they complained and railed against the manna that was a gift from God.

Cohan also cites the book of Genesis, 1:29, and claims that the verse forbids the eating of animals, that we are to eat “plants and only plants.” But the verse actually says, “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing herb, which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; it will be yours for food,’” and says nothing about consumption of animals.

But the Torah does make it abundantly clear that people can consume animals in Leviticus 11 (Vayikra), which we read just a few short weeks ago. It is Vayikra that contains the laws of kashrut, laws that tell us what animals we are allowed to eat and what animals are forbidden to us. Somehow Cohan conveniently left Vayikra out of his discussion of Torah.

If Cohan wants to be a vegetarian, that is fine with me. But to argue that the Torah does not allow us to consume animals for food and that the coronavirus is “something we were warned would happen if humanity continues to confine, kill and consume animals” is not at all consistent with the Torah and the laws of kashrut.

Mike Roteman
Pittsburgh

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