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Feasting and FastingThe History and Ethics of Jewish Food$
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Aaron Gross, Jody Myers, and Jordan D. Rosenblum

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479899333

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479899333.001.0001

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Bloodshed and the Ethics and Theopolitics of the Jewish Dietary Laws

Bloodshed and the Ethics and Theopolitics of the Jewish Dietary Laws

Chapter:
(p.287) 13. Bloodshed and the Ethics and Theopolitics of the Jewish Dietary Laws
Source:
Feasting and Fasting
Author(s):

Daniel H. Weiss

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479899333.003.0017

The Hebrew Bible connects dietary practice and issues of ethics and politics in unexpected ways. It does so by setting up a parallel between biblical Israel’s distinction from other nations—their status as “chosen”—and the command to distinguish the permitted, “kosher” mammals and birds from the forbidden ones. Just as God selected Israel among the nations, God commands Israel to select certain animals for food. In this framework, permitted mammals and birds are characterized by a mode of life in which they sustain themselves without shedding or consuming the blood of other birds and quadrupeds. All predatory birds and mammals are forbidden. This chapter contends that this distinction parallels the commandment to humans to refrain from shedding the blood of other humans. In their biblical presentation, the dietary laws highlight Israel’s calling to refrain from sustaining itself by means of violence and bloodshed, in contrast to the disobedient “ways of the nations.” In a variation of “you are what you eat,” the permitted animals are presented in terms of “eat only what you ought to be.” This connection points to a connection between biblical dietary laws and Israel’s task to enact the future messianic peace in the present.

Keywords:   Bible, dietary practice, ethics, politics, mammals, birds, blood, violence, messianic, peace

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