I recently learned that, per the general understanding of the Seven Noahide Laws, Gentiles cannot eat flesh torn from a live animal. How would this look in practice? What meals would violate this law? Would oysters be an example, perhaps? If so, they're prohibited even to Gentiles. What about lobsters, which are cooked alive? (I assume this is different but would like to make sure.)

What meals commonly eaten in the English-speaking world are prohibited for Gentiles?

  • 2
    This prohibition does not apply to fish (e.g. he.wikipedia.org/wiki/…), so the question would be if oysters and lobsters are classified as fish in this regard.
    – pcoz
    Mar 25, 2022 at 13:09
  • @pcoz I'm wondering what meals in particular would qualify. Perhaps lobsters and oysters aren't the best examples, but what meals would be? Are Gentiles in, say, America, commonly susceptible to violating this command, or are meals rarely, if ever, eaten in violation of this command in English-speaking countries?
    – The Editor
    Mar 25, 2022 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


Here is how the Rambam codifies the law (H. Melakhim 9:10-13):

וכן חייב על אבר מן החי, ועל בשר מן החי בכל שהוא: שלא ניתנו השיעורין, אלא לישראל בלבד. ומותר הוא בדם מן החי.

אחד האבר או הבשר, הפורש מן הבהמה או מן החיה; אבל העוף--ייראה לי, שאין בן נוח נהרג על אבר מן החי ממנו. השוחט את הבהמה--אפילו שחט בה שני הסימנין--כל זמן שהיא מפרכסת, אבר ובשר הפורשין ממנה אסורין לבני נוח משום אבר מן החי.

כל שאסור על ישראל משום אבר מן החי, אסור על בני נוח. ויש שבני נוח חייבין עליו, ולא ישראל: שבני נוח אחד בהמה וחיה, בין טהורה בין טמאה--חייבין עליה, משום אבר מן החי ומשום בשר מן החי; ואבר ובשר הפורשין מן המפרכסת--אף על פי ששחט בה ישראל שני הסימנין, הרי זה אסור לבני נוח משום אבר מן החי

Similarly, a gentile is liable for violating the prohibition against eating a limb or flesh from a living creature. This applies regardless of the amount involved, for the specification of minimum amounts only applies to Jews. A gentile is permitted blood from a living creature.

The prohibition applies to a limb or flesh that is separated from either a domesticated animal or a beast. However, it appears to me that a gentile is not executed for eating a limb taken from a living bird. Though one slaughters an animal, even if one severs the two signs that distinguish it as having been slaughtered in a kosher manner, as long as the animal moves convulsively, the limbs and meat which are separated from it are forbidden to a gentile because of the prohibition against a limb from a living creature.

All prohibitions that apply to a Jew regarding a limb from a living creature also apply to gentiles. Furthermore, there are instances where a gentile would be held liable and a Jew will not for a gentile is liable for a limb or flesh from a living creature whether from a domesticated animal or a beast, whether from a kosher or non-kosher species.

The law applies to a בהמה or a חיה. There appears to be a consensus that it does not apply to creatures lower down in the Torah's taxonomy, דגים and שרצים and some debate about whether they apply to עופות. I apologize for not translating these terms, they are not simple to translate to modern taxonomic terms. If pushed I'd roughly say that a חיה/בהמה is a larger land mammal, including ruminants and predators. דגים are aquatic creatures. שרצים are creepy-crawlies (insects, reptiles, rodent-like mammals). עופות are winged creatures such as birds/bats (but not insects).

As aquatic creatures the law does not apply to oysters, lobsters, etc. and I do not believe there are any foods/meals commonly eaten in the Western world that would entail violation of this law. On the more infrequent side, I believe it is the custom of some American hunters to eat the heart of a fresh kill - depending on the facts of the circumstance, this could be a violation.


In [Sanhedrin 59a.6] Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel says B'nei-Noach are prohibited from consuming the blood from a living animal, regarding the mitsvah אַךְ־בָּשָׂר בְּנַפְשׁ֥וֹ דָמוֹ לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ in [Bereshit 9.4].

Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel says: "The blood from a living animal is also prohibited" as "this is a limb from a living animal" [Sanhedrin 59a.8]

If [Sanhedrin 59a.6-8] supports the prohibition of [Bereshit 9.4] to the בְנֵי־נֹחַ Descendants of Noach from consuming blood in flesh then these types of modern cuisines are not allowed :

  • Verivorst ,
  • Bahur ,
  • Blodpudding ,
  • Krvavice ,
  • Morcilla de Burgos ,
  • Jelito ,
  • Korean Sundae ,
  • Kaszanka ,
  • Blutwurst ,
  • Black pudding.
  • Thanks for giving some specific examples! Does Bereshit 9.4 prohibit only meals with blood (how I've traditionally interpreted it), or does it also prohibit eating flesh taken from a live animal? If the latter is included, what meals would be examples of such?
    – The Editor
    Mar 25, 2022 at 16:39
  • 1
    We don't follow him judaism.stackexchange.com/a/80172/11532
    – Heshy
    Mar 25, 2022 at 16:49
  • 2
    This is not the halakhah. For gentiles מותר הוא בדם מן החי. Mar 25, 2022 at 17:49
  • @ח on what grounds would you assume the blood used in these dishes is taken from living animals rather than the by-product of the slaughtering process? Mar 29, 2022 at 19:15

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