Re’eh 5775-2015

“The Prohibition of Eating the Limb of a Live Animal”

Thousands of years before the idea of not causing undue pain to animals was introduced to the Western world, the Torah warned Jews, and even non-Jews, about eating a limb torn from a living animal because of the exceeding cruelty involved.

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Noah 5766-2005

"The Seven Commandments Given to the Descendants of Noah"

Parashat Noah is the source for what is known as the Seven Noahide Principles, seven basic laws that are the fundamentals of civilization and humanity. All non-Jews are required to abide by these seven principles, which are regarded as the minimal standards of human behavior in society. These laws also play a significant role in Judaism's reluctance to accepts converts.

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Matot-Masei 5763-2003

"The Massacre of the Midianites: Does Judaism Countenance Genocide?"

In parashat Matot, G-d tells Moses to mobilize the army of Israel and exact vengeance on the Midianites. The rabbis of old are troubled by this call. They explain that "genocide" was never countenanced by Jewish law, but rather that it was necessary to always first sue the enemy for peace and give them opportunity to flee if they refused to live in peace. Nevertheless, Jewish tradition teaches that one should not be overly compassionate, otherwise one will wind up being cruel at a time when compassion is appropriate.

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