As I begin to plan the upcoming lessons for our series, "Relating to Other Creatures," I had a light-hearted fantasy that some people would send in the following suggestions for the series. My reply to these suggestions appears at the end:
I hope that you will eventually address the issue of diet, since this issue is connected to the way we relate to other creatures. I therefore wish to recommend that you discuss the virtues of the fruitarian diet, especially when the fruits are organic. You often discuss the Garden of Eden in the series, and I believe that Adam and Eve had an organic fruitarian diet. Orthodox fruitarians even wait until the fruit falls from the tree before eating it; however, Reform fruitarians believe it is permitted to take the fruit while it is still on the tree. Given the diverse background of your mailing list, I will understand if you wish to mention the Reform point of view. It may also be helpful to mention that many fruitarians include some green-leafed vegetables, as well as vegetarian foods rich in natural fats (avocados, nuts, coconuts, seeds, sun-dried olives, etc).
Thanks for all the mailings!
The series should point out that the only proper diet is the vegan diet - a healthy vegetarian diet without any animal-based products such as eggs, dairy, or honey. (I would recommend organic vegetables.)
Didn't Adam and Eve have a vegan diet? In addition, you can mention that the manna that the People of Israel ate in the wilderness was a vegan product which they ate raw or cooked.
If the world would be vegan, all the creatures would be happier.
Have a Happy Year,
Are you planning to discuss diet in the new series? If so, I hope that you will cite Torah teachings which support the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet which includes dairy products and eggs - a diet which includes Vitamin B-12. The organic products are the healthiest.
If you wish to be even more pious, you can endorse the lacto vegetarian diet which includes dairy products, but not eggs. And let us remember that the Promised Land is described as "a land of milk and honey"!
WIll you be discussing diet in the series? If so, please be aware of the similarity between the macrobiotic diet and the diet of our biblical ancestors. There is an emphasis in both of these balanced diets on whole grains; in fact, wheat and barley are among the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised! And just as our ancestors ate meat on special occasions, so too, the macrobiotic diet allows for the eating of meat on special occasions; however, I would recommend organic kosher meat from animals that were raised in a natural and humane way.
I am a "meat and potatoes" man, and I therefore hope that you will not turn Judaism into one of those "tree-hugging" philosophies. You should point out that our ancestors were shepherds who had a healthy diet which included the eating of lamb and beef.
It's a hard world, my friend, and we need the meat protein to give us strength! And people who are worried about the hormones and antibiotics injected into animals can get organically-raised kosher meat. My favorite is the organic kosher bison (under proper rabbinical supervision). This is the healthy low-fat buffalo meat that the Native Americans who lived on the plains ate.
Be Strong and of Good Courage,
Cowboy Jake Burger
The following are reasons why I may not personally endorse any of the above mentioned diets:
1. From my experience, taking sides in the debate over which is the healthiest and best diet creates even more controversy than discussing the Democrat-Republican disputes in the United States. Given that I may run for public office, I do not wish to alienate various factions before I am nominated.
2. The nutritional merits of each of these diets is beyond my area of expertise; moreover, there is debate among nutrionists as to which is the healthiest diet.
On a more serious note, we need to remember that the Torah does have teachings and laws related to diet, and we shall attempt to explore those teachings and laws which are most relevant to the theme of our current series. For Torah - the Divine Wisdom - is described as the "Tree of Life" (Proverbs 3:18); thus, the Torah relates to every area of our existence.
This Shabbos, we start to once again read the Torah from the beginning, in order to develop a deeper understanding of the Divine wisdom. The opening chapters of the Torah portion of this Shabbos discuss the creation of the earth and its creatures, the Garden of Eden, and the role of the human being in the Garden. And yes, this Torah portion also describes the diet of the human being and other creatures in the Garden of Eden. With the help of Hashem, we shall begin to discuss this diet next week.
To enhance one's understanding of this week's Torah portion, I recommend a review of the Hazon letter, "The Limits of Human Dominion," which appears in the archive (lower section) of our website.
Have a Good and Sweet Shabbos.
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen