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Sacrifice of Innocent Animals

Rabbi Ari ShvatCheshvan 6, 5773
169
Question
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden why did G-d kill an innocent animal? Same question applies when Abraham went to sacrifice his son Isaac. Thank you
Answer
If you are referring to the snake in the Garden of Eden, he was anything but innocent (if he could talk, apparently he had free will, as well, otherwise, he wouldn’t have been punished), and even then, his punishment wasn’t death. If you are referring to the leather clothes which G-d made for them, or regarding Abraham and Isaac, and sacrifices in general, the answer is that there are clearly different levels or “ranks” of importance of life (accepted to this day), and the needs of man supersede the needs of animals, which overtakes the needs of vegetation. In all societies, they didn’t think twice before killing animals to make insulin to heal humans. Although it’s clear from the Torah that it’s preferable not to kill animals, as seen in the many “hints” to this affect (e.g. slaughtering painlessly, many detailed halachot which define the prohibition to hurt animals, not making a blessing upon buying leather…). Nevertheless, G-d doesn’t come out and command us not to eat meat, but slowly and eventually the aforementioned laws raise mankind until we will be abhorred with the concept, and will voluntarily evolve to be vegetarians, returning to the pre-Noah ideal. The Torah obligates only the minimum, and to “jump the gun” and “over-obligate” morality before its proper time, would be artificial, irrelevant and accordingly, counterproductive. We must remember that the “eternal” ideals found in the Torah, means not only that the Torah applies to the modern world, but also the reverse: that it had to be relevant to the ancient world, as well! It was irrelevant to expect Adam to suddenly manufacture clothing from cotton or wool overnight, just as it would be anachronistic for Abraham or the Jews in the time of the Temples to serve G-d totally differently than that which was accepted in their time (i.e. animal sacrifice). In short, spirituality is considered a need of man, no less than eating, and therefore supersedes the needs of animals. With Love of Israel, Rabbi Ari Shvat
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