Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

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Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Parshat Tzav

Eating the Blood

This week's parsha reminds us that we may not eat blood: "Any person who eats any blood, soul shall be cut off from its people" (VaYikra 7:27).

Why is it wrong to eat blood?

To help answer this question, we must look at the first time that the Torah forbids it; after the Deluge: "Every moving thing that lives shall be yours to eat; like the green vegetation, I have given you everything. But, flesh with its soul, its blood, you shall not eat" (Bereshit 9:3-4).

The Torah considers blood to be "flesh with its soul". It is not entirely clear what this concept actually means, nevertheless, it seems that blood is more than just a liquid, it is the lifeblood, life itself.

Nevertheless, this should not change why it should be forbidden to eat blood. If one can eat an animal i.e., a living creature, than why can one not eat the blood?

At creation, humanity was only permitted to eat vegetation: "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'" (ibid 1:29).

Yet, after the Flood, God permitted them to eat meat. Many commentaries explain that this new rule was in concession to humanity's aggressive nature. Allowing people to kill animals for food would curve their nature from being aggressive to fellow humans.

Nonetheless, it was still forbidden for humanity to eat the blood. Eating blood would be one step too far. Rather than releasing the aggression, thereby protecting humanity, eating blood, i.e. eating the soul, would lead Man to be callous about life. It would lead to further cruelty to others. And so it remains off limits.

Last year's Sedra Short on Parshat VaYikra, entitled: "More on Sacrifices and Offerings" appears at

Another Sedra Short on Parshat VaYikra, entitled: "The Korban Todah and Chametz" appears at

A further Sedra Short on Tzav entitled Understanding Karet" appears at

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