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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘meat’

Belgian Court Upholds Shechita Laws Despite Challenge by Lawmakers

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The Constitutional Court of Belgium has rejected a petition by parliamentarians who once again tried to ban shechita — the Jewish ritual slaughter of meat.

The lawmakers tried to neutralize the right of Jews and Muslims to maintain the religious ritual slaughtering customs that are necessary for the proper processing and consumption of meat in both faiths.

Belgian lawmakers had requested the court extend the reach of the nation’s law requiring an animal be stunned prior to slaughter to apply also to Jewish and Muslim slaughterhouses as well. Such an act is in direct opposition to religious Jewish kashruth and Muslim halal laws.

Faith representatives turned to the Belgian courts, where it was decided that any extension of the law to the religious communities would be a violation of their freedom to practice their religion.

In December 2014, the Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare, Ben Weyts, reversed his position on the issue of Jewish ritual slaughter in Belgium and instead committed himself to opposing a proposed ban on the practice of Jewish ritual slaughter.

European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin emphasized at the time, and has since reiterated that the practice of “shechita” is the most humane method of slaughter, as it ensures the welfare of the animal not only at the time of the slaughter but also concerns itself with “the conditions in which animals are raised before their slaughter.”

Hana Levi Julian

Rabbis Approve In Vitro, Split on In Utero Meat

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

“Ben pekuah” is a Talmudic reference to a calf that was removed from his mother’s womb after she had been slaughtered properly. Some sages agree that the newborn calf will not require slaughtering to be eaten, since it is technically part of an already slaughtered animal. But they mostly agree that even if on the Torah level the animal may be eaten without killing, it should be slaughtered nevertheless, to prevent confusion.

Indeed, some commentators have suggested that when Joseph complained to his father Jacob about his brothers who transgressed the prohibition against eating the flesh of a living animal — the brothers had actually been feasting on such an in utero calf.

But what if a male and a female in utero calves were to be mated, to eventually procreate an entire herd that according to the Torah may be eaten alive? Would the prohibition of mar’it ein-misleading visual message still hold when it is well-known that the herd is entirely pre-slaughtered?

A similar debate is being conducted in the halakhic world around the new development, which is yet to prove itself commercially viable, of in vitro meat. Also known as cultured meat or synthetic meat, in vitro meat is an animal-flesh product that has never been part of a developed, living animal. Several research projects have experimented with in vitro meat in the lab, with the first in vitro beefburger, created by a Dutch team, being consumed publicly in London in 2013.

According to the NY Times, there remain difficulties to be overcome before in vitro meat becomes commercially available. For one thing, it is still prohibitively expensive, the cost could be reduced as the technology improves to allow for mass production.

The other problem with in vitro meat is cultural, since many consumers might object to eating meat that has not developed naturally and has not been killed.

According to Kippa, the entire spectrum of National Religious rabbis, who normally disagree on just about everything, welcome the idea of cultured meat, even though it is years away from being available commercially. The process of developing in vitro meat begins with taking muscle cells and applying a protein that promotes tissue growth. Once this process has been started, it is theoretically possible for it to continue producing meat indefinitely without introducing new cells from a living organism. A Daily Mail 2012 story claimed that, in ideal conditions, two months of in vitro meat production could deliver up to 50,000 tons of meat from ten pork muscle cells.

In vitro meat may be produced as strips of muscle fiber, which grow through the fusion of precursor cells – either embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells, or specialized satellite cells found in muscle tissue. This type of meat can be cultured in a bio-reactor.

A 2009 Time article suggested that meat could be grown into “real” muscle, which would require giving it a circulatory system in order to deliver nutrients and oxygen close to the growing cells, as well as to remove the waste products. Other cell types, such as adipocytes, would also need to be grown, as well as chemical messengers to provide clues to the growing tissue about its structure. The growing muscle tissue would need to be physically stretched or “exercised” in order to develop properly.

Rabbis Dov Lior, Yuval Cherlow, and Shlomo Aviner believe that the new invention is vital, explaining that it does not constitute a problem of eating the flesh of a live animal — even assuming that the source animal for the cells would not be slaughtered, kosher or otherwise. They believe that with the proposed technological process in place, the substance would not even be considered meat, but “parve.”

JNi.Media

Man-Made Meat? A fence for Wisdom is Silence

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

After years of research and development, a man-made hamburger was publicly tasted for the first time last week. The burger was not animal flesh, instead it was grown in a laboratory. However, it was grown in a way that mimics the way animals grow their own flesh. Thus, it was pretty close to dead animal meat in flavor and texture.

This incredible scientific breakthrough prompted a plethora of questions. For the religious community with rituals and laws attached to the eating of meat even more questions were asked.

It seemed that one could hardly browse the Internet for five seconds without seeing a juicy soundbite (sorry, couldn’t resist) about whether the meat was kosher or whether is was meat at all. Chabad’s website had one approach. OU had another approach. Reuters had a third opinion in their article. NBC added another view.

I must have been asked by a dozen people what to make of the man-made meat mystery.

This is what I think. No one has any idea what they are talking about. Non-scientists have no chance of understanding the precise manner in which this meat was manufactured. I have tried to understand how it all works and it is almost impossible to find the full technical explanation with all the requisite background information. A very smart scientists tried explaining it to me, but even after I got the gist of the process I had more questions about stem cells and other background than I had before he explained it to me. I am pretty confident that Chabad, OU, the Reuters people, and even NBC News reporters don’t have a clue how this meat is made.

Sure, they  say “don’t rely on this for halacha” or something to that effect, but that makes things even worse. Why offer a meaningless opinion that is based on ignorance? It seems to make a mockery of Jewish law. But Jewish law is very serious and serious people will offer serious opinions on this matter. The proper response for almost the entire population of planet Earth to these eternal questions about man-made meat is “I am not qualified to render an opinion on this matter.”

Without a thorough understanding of how the meat is made, any discussion of the halachic ramifications of the meat is not even conjecture. It is pure fantasy. Further, deciding the halachic status of this issue will require a breadth of Torah knowledge that is possessed by a mere handful of people on the planet. You can’t pasken this shyla with Yad Moshe, Google, or the Otzar. This is a brand new question of Jewish law and will need serious investigation into the science and the various tenuously analogous precedents in Jewish law. The Torah does not discuss synthetic meat. And even if it did, who says this meat would be the same as the synthetic meat found in Jewish law?

The only way this question can be seriously answered is with a conference of scientists and rabbis who fit the descriptions above. Scientists who can thoroughly explain how the meat is made and Torah scholars who know kol haTorah kula will need to decide this issue. Anyone else jumping into the discussion is wielding a knife in a nuclear war. It’s that useless.

If I can, I will try to attain a scientific understanding of how this meat is produced and then perhaps I will be qualified to even ask the question to my (qualified) posek. But until such time, I wouldn’t dare wade into this very, very deep pool. I think this is the proper policy under the circumstances. We sound more educated and cutting edge when we admit what we don’t know as opposed to when we pretend we know what we are discussing.

Visit Fink or Swim.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

Is the Lab-Created Burger Kosher?

Friday, August 9th, 2013

By Yehuda Shurpin

Question:

Scientists have recently demonstrated that they can now take stem cells from a cow and build them into hamburgers that look, feel and (almost) taste like the real thing. What does Jewish law have to say? Is this considered real meat? Is it kosher?

Response:

This is a fascinating question that needs to be studied carefully by expert rabbis when the issue becomes more practical and Petri-dish burgers become an affordable option. But here are some preliminary thoughts on the subject to give you some perspective.

Meat from Heaven

What makes this question so intriguing is that this is an example of how those seemingly fantastic Aggadic tales in the Talmud are nowadays becoming a starting point for new halachik questions.

There is actually a discussion in the Talmud about whether meat that does not come from an animal is considered kosher, although the origin of the meat in this case was even more miraculous:

A story of Rabbi Shimeon ben Chalafta, who was walking on the road, when lions met him and roared at him. Thereupon he quoted from Psalms: “The young lions roar for prey and to beg their food from G‑d,”1 and two lumps of flesh descended [from heaven]. They ate one and left the other. This he brought to the study hall and propounded: Is this fit [for food] or not? The scholar answered: “Nothing unfit descends from heaven.” Rabbi Zera asked Rabbi Abbahu: “What if something in the shape of a donkey were to descend?” He replied: “You ‘howling yorod,2’ did they not answer him that no unfit thing descends from heaven?”3

Miraculous meat appears again in the Talmud, although this time it was man-made:

Rabbi Chanina and Rabbi Oshaia would spend every Sabbath eve studying the “Book of Creation”4 by means of which they created a calf and ate it.5

In discussing this story, later commentators debate whether such an animal would require shechitah (kosher slaughter) in order to be eaten.

Rabbi Yeshayah Halevi Horowitz, known as the Shelah, writes that it is not considered a real animal and does not need shechitah.6

Others write that while a technical interpretation of Biblical law may not require such an animal to be slaughtered, the rabbinical prohibition of “marit ayin” (not engaging in acts that look misleadingly similar to forbidden activity) would necessitate slaughter–lest an onlooker think that ordinary meat is being consumed without shechitah.7

Test-Tube Beef

So far we have discussed “miracle meat” that came from heaven or was created by spiritual means. Some commentators defined this meat as miraculous because it did not come from a naturally-born animal. But do we consider any meat that does not come from a naturally-born animal to be “miracle meat”? Or does it need to come through an actual miracle? How about test-tube meat, which does come from actual animal cells? In this case the dictum that “no unfit thing descends from heaven” obviously would not apply. Here are some of the issues that will need to be explored:

The Cells The scientist extracted the cells of a real animal and used them to grow the tissues in a Petri dish. If, and that is not a small if, the mere cells are considered substantial enough to be called meat, this may present a problem. In addition to the prohibition of eating a limb from a living animal,8 there is an additional injunction not to eat any meat that was severed from a live animal.9

This is an issue for non-Jews as well as Jews, since Noahide law dictates that non-Jews may not eat even a minute amount of meat that was separated from a living animal.10

For Jews, if the cells are considered real meat, then presumably they would need to be extracted from a kosher animal that was slaughtered according to Jewish law.

Another consideration is that there is a halachik concept, “the product of non-kosher is itself not kosher, and the product of that which is kosher is itself kosher.”11 While at first glance this would seem to imply that the cells need to come from a kosher source, it is not clear whether the above rule would apply to microscopic cells that were extracted from an animal.

Chabad.org

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/is-the-lab-created-burger-kosher/2013/08/09/

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