A close friend of mine asked me to fire this question at the mi.yodeya community so here goes:

"I came across this rather interesting rendition of "kashrus Explained", not sure who authored it, but I was intrigued.

thought I would fire out a little "Mi Yodeya" challenge to you.

Challenge: can any of you point me to a rishon (point me to the actual source) thats says any of the first three things befeirush (explicitly)?

Kashrut Explained:

The purposes of Kashrut are:

  1. to limit the number of animals the Jew is permitted to kill and eat;
  2. to render the slaughter of the permitted animals as painless as possible;
  3. to cause revulsion at the shedding of blood;
  4. to instill self-discipline in the Jew; ( RSRH, Moreh Nevuchim, ...)
  5. to help sustain Judaism and the cohesion of the Jewish community;
  6. to raise the act of eating from an animal-like level. ( tanya, nefesh hachaim, others....)"

My friend is looking for Rishon-level sources for only 1-3.

(I personally have doubts as far as the veracity of #'s 2 and 3, and challenge anyone to come up with even a mainstream acharon that says such reasons)

(I also challenge the premise of purposes of Kashrus, as opposed to reasons and symbolism, but that is for a different question.)

(The list is from

The nine questions people ask about Judaism By Dennis Prager, Joseph Telushkin

http://books.google.com/books?id=gwWGCoopxV0C&pg=PA58&lpg=PA58&dq=Kashrut+Explain+The+main+purposes+of+Kashrut+are:1.+to+limit+the+number+of+animals+the+Jew+is+permitted+to+kill+and+eat%3B2.+to+render+the+slaughter+of+the+permitted+animals+as+painless+as+possible%3B&source=bl&ots=27rczPpuiL&sig=5bDPnze2CHYTCuoI8dTlS2Cy_Z0&hl=en&ei=funqS9nkC8P-8AagiO3hDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false )

  • 1
    Well said. Big difference between purpose and symbolism. Some of these are things we say today to describe the benefits of kosher today, which may have been different 1000 years ago. E.g. today kosher food keeps us strongly apart from non-Jews, but if you lived in a world where meat was a rarity, this was less of an effect.
    – Shalom
    Commented May 12, 2010 at 17:22
  • Thanks Shalom. What I mean by reasons would be along the lines of Ramabam's approach in the Moreh: What we can learn from the Mitzvah about life and the reality Hashem has placed us in and how we can better ourselves.
    – Yahu
    Commented May 12, 2010 at 17:40
  • I am not sure if meat was ever a rarity for gentiles in the parts of the world where Jews have lived. After all, if you can eat pig, camel, rabbit, etc. and the Jews can rarely eat meat because of species and shehitah reasons that would have been a tremendous barrier between us.
    – Yahu
    Commented May 12, 2010 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


For #2: Rambam says as much in Moreh Nevuchim, part 3. In ch. 26 he writes (Kapach translation, text online here):

אבל לאמיתו של דבר, כיון שהביא ההכרח לאכילת החי, הייתה הכוונה להקל מיתתו במה שקל להשיגו, לפי שאי אפשר להכות הצוואר אלא בסיף או כיוצא בו. והשחיטה אפשרית בכל דבר, ולהקלת המיתה הותנה חדות הסכין.

And in ch. 48 he repeats this idea:

וכיון שהביא הכרח טיב מזונו להריגתו, חפשנו לו המיתה היותר קלה, ונאסר לענותו בשחיטה הנפסדת ולא לנחרו ולא לחתוך ממנו אבר, כמו שביארנו.

  • Alex, I am going to compare R. Kappach's translation with all the others I have because of the subtlety of the issues and the implications of Rambam's approach. I think this touches upon the Mahlokes Rambam and Ramban by Shiluah HaKein.
    – Yahu
    Commented May 13, 2010 at 16:29
  • Alex, I compared translations and looked up both sources in context. While it is true that Rambam maintains that it is so as to do it in the most painless way possible, saying that alone totally twists Rambam's approach. In Chapter 26 Rambam is bringing Shehita as an illustration of "Litzareif Bahem Habriyos"- That Hashem Himself could care less how we slaughter an animal, but we need to do it that way as a purification of our imperfect selves. We need to be less cruel.
    – Yahu
    Commented May 13, 2010 at 23:43
  • If Hashem was so concerned about cruelty to animals He would not have made nature so cruel or He would not have permitted us to eat animals. By making it necessary for us to participate in this cruel food chain, but in the most humane way possible, we are purified.
    – Yahu
    Commented May 13, 2010 at 23:44
  • 2
    I'm not so sure that I'd consider this to be twisting the Rambam's words. Of course it's true that Hashem doesn't "need" us to slaughter animals one way or another; ultimately, אם חטאת מה תפעל בו... אם צדקת מה תתן לו. But it seems that Rambam's position about meat-eating is much like his view (also in the Moreh) about sacrifices: in an ideal world they wouldn't be needed, but since they are needed (respectively, for nutrition and as a concession to the popular idea of Divine service), then G-d gave us rules to remove their most objectionable parts.
    – Alex
    Commented May 14, 2010 at 0:01
  • 2
    OK, I see what you mean - they contrast "reflexive" ("to elevate the performer of the law") with "ethical" ("to ensure moral treatment of others"). Fair enough. On the other hand, the Rambam does go on to say (in ch. 48) that the Torah is concerned with animals' feelings as regards to אותו ואת בנו and שילוח הקן - i.e., that those are "ethical" rather than (or in addition to) "reflexive"; so maybe it's not so much of a stretch to interpret him that way about shechitah too.
    – Alex
    Commented May 14, 2010 at 19:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .