According to statements made last night by Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, animals should be treated humanely during the kosher slaughter process because:
- Jewish law mandates it
- If we don't, the goyyim and/or PETA will see us and stop kosher slaughter.
- Shechita, kosher slaughter, is under attack from the goyyim so we have to behave.
- Common sense and human decency tells us that we should do everything in our power to reduce suffering associated with the food we eat.
- None of the above
The correct answer(s) after the jump in the extended post below…
According to Ynet, which has a report on Rabbi Metzger's meeting last night with Israeli meat importers, the correct answers: 2 & 3 [all material in square brackets is mine, not Ynet's]:
Rabbi Metzger initiates meeting with meat importers, asks them to pressure slaughterhouses in South America to adopt 'boxing' method which does not cause animals undue distress. 'The koshering organizations are under attack, and Jews are presented as cruel people,' he warns
After being approached by organizations for the prevention of cruelty to animals across the world, Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger met Monday evening with importers of kosher meat to Israel.
The meeting was held in a bid to recruit the importers to fight "the international attack initiated by organizations for the prevention of cruelty to animals against the kosher slaughtering," Metzger explained.
The chief rabbi told the meeting attendees that "although these organizations' motives are not always pure, you must do anything in order to prevent animals from suffering, otherwise the entire Jewish slaughtering will be in danger."
During the meeting, Metzger addressed the slaughterhouses in South American, which are the main suppliers of kosher meat imported to Israel under the Chief Rabbinate using the "lift and bind" method [i.e., shackle and hoist slaughter], in which the animal's legs are tied before it is slaughtered [and the animal is hung from the ceiling by one hind leg both before and immediately after slaughter], causing undue distress.
He noted that this was a primitive method and instructed the importers to exert massive pressure on the slaughterhouses they work with and make them stop using this technique and quickly adopt the modern "boxing" method used in Europe [and America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia], in which the beast is spared unnecessary suffering before it is slaughtered.
Metzger stressed that "it is obligatory to examine the knives before each slaughter and ensure that they are not defective, so as not to cause undue distress to the beast. It is unthinkable that the beast will suffer unnecessarily as it is transported to the slaughterhouse." [This appears to be an attempt by Rabbi Metzger to correctly point out that a shochet's knife, if even minutely nicked or damaged, renders slaughter non-kosher, in part because it is presumed to cause unnecessary pain to the animal.]
The chief rabbi did not spare criticism of the organizations for the prevention of cruelty to animals, saying he was not convinced their intentions were pure.
"There are different and odd foods like seafood, which are prepared with serious abuse, but for some reason these organizations are only heard when it comes to Jewish slaughter. [This is, of course, false. PETA and other animal rights organizations regularly and publicly work to stop things like seafood harvesting that is unnecessarily cruel. Here is one example.]
[What follows is a blatant falsehood. PETA – which has many Jews working for it, including many in leadership positions – is philo-semitic and has said many times over that, done properly, kosher slaughter is the most humane way to slaughter an animal for food.]
"Koshering organizations in the United States have told me that they were being similarly attacked by these organizations for the prevention of cruelty to animals. They told me that these organizations have serious influence and great power in the United States, and that they use this to present the Jews as cruel people and to make other anti-Semitic accusations. If this attack continues, Jewish slaughter is in danger," Rabbi Metzger said.
The same remarks were made in a booklet handed to the meeting attendees.
"We are living in a reality in which the issue of animals' rights gets a lot of media and public attention. At the same time, different elements are attempting to cancel the Jewish slaughter or make different conditions to disqualify it.
"This compels us to ensure that we do not, God forbid, reach a situation in which those who provoke us will overpower us and the Jewish slaughter will be banned for so-called 'humane' reasons, something which might influence other countries and have very grave results," the booklet stated.
To sum up, the only reason for ending shackle and hoist slaughter or other unnecessary cruelties is because PETA is watching and media outlets (and blogs like this one) publicize what PETA finds.
Of course, it is possible that Rabbi Metzger is playing good cop, bad cop here, with PETA being the bad cop. If so, he would be doing this because he knows that without the real fear of having shechita banned, nothing will ever change.
Whether Rabbi Metzger believes PETA is antisemitic and that kosher slaughter is truly imperiled, or whether it is a ruse used to facilitate needed change, one thing is absolutely clear: PETA is vindicated.
[Hat Tip: Michelle.]
UPDATE 3:30 pm – The Jerusalem Post now has a story on this, as well. Besides being better written, the only really different piece of information is that the pens Rabbi Metzger wants to use for shechita are Weinberg Pens, the same pen that Rubashkin uses in Postville and also in South America.
Here's the Jerusalem Post piece:
By Mattew Wagner
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger met Monday evening with importers of South American kosher meat to encourage them to phase out the "shackle and hoist" slaughter method and adopt the more humane "rotating pen" method.
Although the Chief Rabbinate has condoned the shackle and hoist method for decades, a clandestine video shot in October 2007 and circulated on the Internet by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sparked new scrutiny.
Metzger, who is in charge of kosher supervision for the Rabbinate, has been under pressure from animal rights groups to stop the slaughter method.
Two weeks ago The Jerusalem Post reported that Metzger intended to meet with importers to persuade them to stop the shackle and hoist method. Even the Orthodox Union, the largest kosher supervision organization in the world, has advised the Rabbinate to discontinue shackling and hoisting at slaughterhouses that provide Israel with kosher meat.
There was an "international attack initiated by organizations for the prevention of cruelty to animals against the kosher way of slaughtering," Metzger was quoted as saying during the meeting, in a press release from the Chief Rabbinate.
This quote reflected the feeling among many rabbis in the Rabbinate that PETA's criticism was designed to undermine kosher slaughtering altogether.
Sources within the Rabbinate have voiced concerns that Metzger's willingness to compromise on the shackle and hoist issue would shed a negative light on kosher slaughtering as a whole.
In the PETA video, filmed inside a slaughterhouse in Montevideo, Uruguay, a cow is shown hanging from a single leg, struggling and bellowing.
After the animal is put on the ground, it is shown writhing and being restrained by several workers who step on it and prod it before the cut. According to PETA the entire procedure takes more than three minutes.
During the meeting, Metzger told the importers that the shackle and hoist method was "primitive" and instructed the importers "to exert major pressure on the slaughterhouses they work with to make them adopt the rotating pen method."
According to this method, the cow is placed in a pen and flipped upside down. The cow is slaughtered in this inverted position.
Israel imports most of its meat, both kosher and non-kosher, from South America. Even the non-kosher meat is often derived from animals slaughtered in the shackle and hoist method. It becomes non-kosher after failing to meet various halachic requirements that have nothing to do with animal cruelty.
Most South American slaughterhouses, and several older Israeli ones, prepare cows for slaughter by tying the animal's hind leg to a shackle that is attached to a mechanical derrick and hoisting the cow off its feet.
The cow is then lowered to the ground on its side and held by three men - one at the head, one at the hindquarter and a third by one of the forelegs - while a fourth man, a shochet ritual slaughterer, cuts through the trachea and the esophagus.