For me, this article has been long overdue. It’s been in my mind to do on my blog for some time. Even though I wrote an article on the same subject elsewhere, I wanted to re-do it here, keep the mental juices flowing rather than mechanically copy-pasting it from its original source.
So here goes.
When I was in the final phases of being a christian, before I rejected Jesus as any sort of messiah or prophet or anything of practical relevance, I believed it was forbidden to eat blood and that it was wrong to eat meat with blood still in it. I would take steps to remove any blood that was in the meat I bought to cook and eat.
And I thought the source of this conclusion was Genesis 9:4. Here’s what it said in the King James Version, which I would read.
But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
Now although some would say that this isn’t a terrible translation, I was led to interpret it like this:
“Don’t eat blood!”
“Don’t eat meat with blood in it.”
Now people who can actually read the text would notice that I was not really taking meaning from the text. The text did not say “don’t eat blood.” So that “interpretation” was not really proper exegesis. It says nothing about blood on its own.
But some may agree with my other conclusion, that a person should not eat meat with blood in it.
But years later, before I had wholesale accepted the oral tradition or the seven laws (but I was learning about them) I spotted an error in my reading.
You see I was reading it like this:
“But flesh with its blood you shall not eat.”
But what does it really say?
But flesh with its soul, its blood, you shall not eat.
Each word has a meaning and has importance. So why had I ignored those words “its soul?” Or better yet, what did that word mean?
The Hebrew word, nefesh, is rendered a number of ways in English. The KJV and the JPS render it here as “life.” Others translate it as “soul.” Hebrew dictionaries available online like Brown-Driver-Briggs, Strongs, Gesenius use words like “soul, living being, life, vitality.”
So the word seems to have something to do with being alive.
So the text seems to be talking about flesh with its life, flesh that is alive.
I could have just stopped here and thought that the text is still talking about blood, the red stuff, and thus it still says, don’t eat flesh with its life, its red stuff. And thus nothing has changed.
Now the question to ask is this: does the context mention blood? And if so, how is it used?
Let’s look. Genesis 9:3-6.
3) Every moving thing that lives shall be for food for you; as the vegetation I’ve given you everything. 4) Only flesh with its life/soul, which is its blood, you shall not eat. 5) And surely your blood of your lives I’ll require; at the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the life of man. 6) He who sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made He man.
Now what I have to ask myself is if the word “blood” here simply refers to the blood, the red stuff, regardless of whether an animal or man is alive or dead? Is verse 4 really telling me that if I have a dead animal, any red stuff is forbidden?
When God says, “I’ll require the blood of your lives,” is he simply talking about any speck of the red stuff? When he says “he who sheds a man’s blood,” are we talking about any release of red stuff? If I slip and cut my knee so that it bleeds, have I sinned by shedding my own blood? If someone else cuts me, have they transgressed this law?
Now the odd thing is that it’s widely understood that the usage of “blood” in the verses that follow verse 4 refers actually to the life or, loosely, lifeblood. And we’re not just talking about drops of blood either. The text is still talking about “life.”
For example, if I strangle someone to death, and not one drop of blood is shed, I would still have transgressed the law against “shedding blood.” Now this would seem odd only if I had ignored what verse 4 seems to really be saying and understood “blood” in a hyper-literal way to speak of any of the red liquid in an animal or human.
What do I mean by ignoring what verse 4 said?
Didn’t verse 4 warn me how it was going to be using the word “blood?” Didn’t it tell me that “life” is “blood?” Or that I’m supposed to understand “blood” as “life?” Didn’t it say “flesh with its life, which is its blood …?” That’s not simply “the red stuff.”
The use of “blood” in the text should tell me that we’re not talking about “any red stuff” neither in verse 4 nor in verse 6. In this context, it’s talking about an element of life.
So based on the context, I’m not being told to wash meat before I eat it; just like I’m not being told specifically not to remove any blood from someone else.
I conclude, like the sages of old, that this passage forbids eating flesh taken from a living animal. I now reject the idea that this text isolates “the red stuff” and forbids its consumption.
In other words, the prohibition of eating meat taken from a living animal seems closer to the simple reading of the text than a simple general prohibition against any blood. That may be in the law for Jews but not for the descendants of Noah on a whole.
I could have quoted rabbinical sources, but I’m focusing on my own conclusions here.
So there have been a good amount of occasions where judges, lawyers and cops get away with apparent miscarriages of justice. I just heard of an occasion where a guy goes to a government official’s home to get an interview. That G.O. doesn’t particularly like this so he takes the guy’s smartphone from his hand, takes it into his garage, uses a hammer to smash the person’s phone and then uses an adequade saw to chop it in half and then returns it to the person wanting the interview.
No, that’s not the end.
The person who wanted the interview is arrested and the district attorney sets such a high amount of money for bail the guy can’t get out of jail until the trial. And the G.O. who smashed and destroyed the guy’s phone? The same D.A. drops all charges against him.
Now this is just one example of many of things that agents of the govt do that I personally see as immoral.
People can be imprisoned for asking the wrong questions to a judge, will have charges piled against them by police and lawyers, will be arrested and harrassed when doing nothing wrong or even illegal, will be killed or injured by government officials with no repercussions for those government officials.
And something I often hear from people is, “that’s not the way the system works” or “that shouldn’t happen.”
I’m puzzled by such a response. Well at least part of me is.
Think about the basis for such a statement. People only say “that’s not the way it works” because they think the system should work for justice, fairness and righteousness. They say injustice shouldn’t happen because they think the system should be for the cause of justice, fairness and righteousness.
But when you consider how government officials get their positions and what law is, something doesn’t make sense. There is incongruence between what many accept as the way people get into such roles and how law works, and the result they are expecting.
People hold up a person’s act in light of the government’s law. To be a criminal, convicted or accused of going against the law, is generally seen to be a morally bad thing. Legislation is seen as morality. Those that go against law are seen to have opposed morality itself.
Just to be clear, when I talk about people, I’m including Torah observant Jews and Gentiles. To my grave disappointment, in my experience, many of those who have made govt law seem moral, who have defended the political and legal systems in the land they live in, are Torah observant Jews and “noahides.”
Yet, what factually is govt law? What is the nature of govt law? It’s basically the written opinions of politicians, people whose level of righteousness or moral intellect is at best questionable, that are backed by the threat of coercion.
But just like in science, so in politics, the words of men are elevated to a different plane of existence, as if holy or sacrosanct, by pure and simply magic or faith.
However, when I think about what govt law actually is, its nature, the opinions of the questionable unknown politicians backed by threats, then I personally begin to wonder if I should really expect justice, righteousness and fairness from such a thing.
And since it is understood that govt law is just opinion backed by threats, then I’ll return to the idea of being a criminal, a law breaker. Essentially it is simply going against an opinion of someone else. It’s not, in and of itself, immoral. Someone’s opinion doesn’t make objective morality. The views of a group don’t make objective morality. Objective morality stands regardless of humans.
So necessarily the government’s law is not moral law. In order for legislation to be moral, it has to accord with proper morality. And there are historical examples of immoral state law. Sometimes the criminals are the good people.
It’s not a popular point. But I believe it to be a true one.
So if government law is not in and of itself moral, then what about the concept of “rule of law” if govt law has such a flaky, weak and potentially immoral nature? Don’t even some “noahides” and noahide webpages see some great importance to “rule of law?” For example,
Today, the principle of the “rule of law” is universally recognized, that is, the incumbency of establishing a just legal system, which is applied with fairness and before whom all are equal. A law that violates fundamental human values does not satisfy this concept of the rule of law. (The Noahide Universal Law, by Nahum Rakover, http://www.lif.ac.il/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=349&Itemid=1331)
Society only functions because of the rule of law. (Introduction to the Noahide Laws, at Noahide Nations, http://noahidenations.com/index.php/academy-of-shem/for-all-mankind/229-seven-noahide-laws/introduction-to-the-noahide-laws/385-an-introduction-to-the-noahide-laws?showall=1&limitstart=)
I’ve seen resources online that even equate the first of the seven laws, Justice or Dinim, with “rule of law.”
So what about “rule of law?”
So yes, I’ll get to that. I’ll just deal with another matter first.
Righteousness, justice and fairness are not prerequisites for government jobs. To join the police, you don’t have to be a morally good person. To be a policeman, you don’t have to be fair and upright. This should be obvious by the willingness of police to throw their weight around, to use threats of imprisonment and physical violence and the taking away of children to gain compliance their individual dictates.
“Tell me your name or I’ll arrest you for obstruction.”
“If you don’t do what I say, I can help make sure social services get involved with your kids.”
“Leave this public place or I’ll arrest you for trespassing.”
Judges are worse since they are nigh-absolute dictators in their courtrooms.
To be a law-maker in many countries, or a politician or a judge or a lawyer or many govt roles, the desire for truth and restoration, and a good moral fibre are not necessary prerequisites.
But they do have to be somewhat good at knowing govt law (yes, whenever I say that, I’m still only referring to a normally written opinion backed by a threat). And this opinion may or may not be for the good of individuals on a whole. But the govt officials, those who don’t need to be decent people, must be good at using it.
And not just using it, but interpreting it as they wish at the time that they have to deal with a potential “criminal.” Judges have to do this in a system where lawyers are not paid to get to the truth but rather to defend their client, and will do what they can to be the grand salesman, advertisers and promoters for the position of their client. Cops have to use this written opinion when (or if) they choose to deal with the public. Politicians … hahahaha … well, they have their role too.
But in such a system that is not based on punishment, not restoration and restitution, where bureaucracy, money, prestige, pride and power have a strong part to play, where righteousness, justice and fairness are not in the important parts of the system, yet people believe it to hav some vague aspirations of good, in such a system, how can there be any real hope of real justice???
And then after all that, the fact that govt law is merely opinion backed by threats but held to be real moral precepts, even by those who uphold the objective morality of Torah, the fact that righteousness, fairness and justice are not the vital ingredients for a govt official to get an office, after all that, then I approach a concept that seems to be highly praised amongst godless and godly people alike: the rule of law.
What is the real basis and product of “rule of law?”
I found the rule of law article in the legal dictionary part of freedictionary.com to be most useful. You can click on that link to read it yourself.
It speaks of three parts to this “rule of law” schpeel.
1) Ruling according to law – politicians have to act in line with written and established laws. They can’t seek to punish people who haven’t broken a law.
2) Ruling under law – No one is above the law, not even politicians. So the law rules everyone equally.
3) Ruling according to a higher law – the laws set in place have to accord with an authority, a law, higher than human law, universal principles that apply to everyone.
Now, I’m hoping that someone reads all that, thinks about it in principle and in how it is played out in real life and at least chuckled at its foolishness. Inside, I’m laughing it to scorn even as my face currently is fiercely focused on getting it finished.
For points 1) and 2), since law is just opinion backed by a threat, and it is created by questionable sources, normally written with enough ambiguity to be played with, and then interpreted and re-interpreted by judges who have their own agendas, judges who can stretch and restrict terminology as they please, these notions are altogether a joke, a sad and despicable joke.
One fantastic example of this is the American constitution which was supposed to limit its government in size and power. Yet, regardless of its words or possiple original intent (or the fact that it actually has no real authority except by faith), the judges and politicians have helped make sure it has grown in scope, size and power to such an extent that people can’t even cross the road without breaking a law, that some are forced under pain of death to put their kids into public school, that no one really owns the land they paid for because they still have to pay the politicians rent called “property tax,” that so many of their actions are interfered with by one piece of legislation or another.
That’s a fantastic example of the useless or empty or totally flexible nature of ruling according to or under law. When a judge or politician can flex it this way or that way to suit their purposes, the law just becomes what it is: opinions that can be played with.
Let’s not forget how notoriously difficult it can be to actually have a govt official punished for immoral acts and crimes. Getting judges punished for their tyranny, or cops for falsely arresting people or killing them or lying in their reports and court testimony, getting politicians punished for war crimes, like lying about reasons for going to war, for shifting the creation and formulation of laws in favour of donors, unions and corporations, getting any of these sorts of bad actors punished is much harder than the normal Joe. Those are just a small set of examples. It should be staggeringly obvious that people are NOT treated equally!
Although I’m sure there are examples of repercussions for govt officials, the plethora of abuses in the area makes “rule under law” a pretense at best, a propaganda tool used to give the serfs the impression that everything is generally ok, that their masters are just and good.
And then I have point 3), accountable to a higher law. Now part of me says that this is a good thing, a recognition of a higher law. This acknowledgement may be a sign of rationality tapping into the intellect that some theorize as coming from the fact that we’re made in God’s image.
But where it concerns ruling according to a higher law, in this secular or multiple-personality multicultural society, that too is a court jester, fumbling and messing around, but only with dire consequences.
So with no god, or a culture with a plethora of gods, or ideas or philosophies, what exactly is this “higher law?” The “universal” human rights? Rights are simply privileges given in different measure depending on which ruling class you happen to live under. There’s no such thing as universal human rights. What about conscience? Ah, that’s subjective and fickle as well. What about the unalienable rights of the Americans or the unwritten constitution in the UK? Oh, that’s the govt privileges again; pick your flavour of ruler.
As hopeful as point 3) can be, currently it’s a pipe dream.
So “rule of law” in all its aspects, and at least in this world, is a myth. And I can’t say much about the imaginings of “noahides” and Torah observant Jews as too many of them think ruling classes should exist (as opposed to courts) and have the “right” and power to make up laws that it sees fit. You can see I have no trust or faith in that.
Anyway, going back to the point of this blogpost, consider the responses of people who see the injustice (that takes a lot for anyone to do) and then exclaim that this isn’t how the system works or things shouldn’t happen this way. Unfortunately too many of them are already committed to their ruling class and system of dictatorship, be it democracy or republic or parliament, whatever. And in light of what govt law is, i.e., the enforced opinion of the morally questionable, in light of the lesser priority given to proper moral fibre in those put in places in the government, in light of the questionable status of the morality of govt officials, and in light of the myth of the rule of law, in light of all things, I’d say that, when immorality happens in govt, and injustice happens in the courts, when innocent people become victims of the police and the “citizens” are little more than cattle for the ruling class …
I’d say things are happening exactly as they should; the system is working as it is meant to.
A different perspective and an uplifing one on the role of a Gentile in the world. Please, take a look.
The natural state of humankind is to be a Ben Noach. A gentile who observes the laws God gave Adam and Noah. The first 20 generations of humanity had no Jew among them. God made people the way He wanted them to be. But then He added a different role, that of the Jew later on. But if it wasn’t broke, why fix it? How do we understand this?
Before Sinai, people kept making bad choices that precluded spirituality in a world without Torah. But the Torah demanded going beyond the normal service expected from humans. God gave Noah seven categories of commandments, approximately 60 laws in total. But the Torah has 613 commandments. The Torah was an upgrade to a world that in some ways was not ready for it. Yet, God knew most nations would not accept the Torah. Therefore, it was not God’s intention to make the spirituality…
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I was talking to a colleague of mine.
We’ve got this game that I enjoy. Although he’s speaks Spanish fluently, he writes to me in English and when I respond, I respond to him in Spanish. I don’t know enough Spanish to hold a conversation but I use Google Translate or Bing Translate. I try to keep my sentences simple to avoid confusion. Amazingly enough, we’ve had a smooth conversation for over a year. I’m enjoying it.
Sorry, where was I?
Oh yeah! I was talking to an associate about the prohibition against idolatry. We were discussing whether it was prohibited, according to the seven commandments, to be present at an idolatrous event without participating in it.
During the process of our discourse, we hit upon the fundamental difference I have with the author of the book called “The Divine Code.”
It is plain in Rambam’s Mishneh Torah and the Talmud that the main prohibition is against actively worshipping an idol according to its customary rites or using specific acts of worship used in temple worship, including slaughtering/offering sacrifices, bowing and pouring libations. Essentially actively accepting something or someone else as a god other than the one true God is idolatry.
That is the law of idolatry for non-Jews.
But rabbi Weiner puts in his book that, for example, it is part of the prohibition of idolatry to believe in God, it is commanded. He says Gentiles are commanded to fear and honour God. In another place, he says on a rational level, it is forbidden to enter a house of idol worship, listen to idolatrous songs.
The difference between the approach of the Divine Code and that of the sources I’ve learnt from was succinctly stated by my colleague.
It’s merit, not precept.
I don’t think I need to add any more to that.
Instead of a Jew trying to legislate for Gentiles, to attempt to make authoritative rulings on non-Jews for matters outside of the seven, to make commands where there was none, an approach encouraging and detailing meritorious acts would seem to be more accurate and potent than “laying down the law,” especially when so much of the “law” in The Divine Code isn’t law.
At least that’s my point of view.
I’ve seen cruelty done in the name of the law.
When someone tells me “it’s legal, so it’s ok,” then it shows me the dangers of the sort of people I live amongst.
When someone who knows Torah and/or the seven laws, be it Gentile or Jew, tells me “it’s legal so it’s ok,” then it shows me that knowing Torah and/or the seven laws doesn’t diminish the danger.
Or the foolishness.
Yet both is a normal occurrence for me. And it’s hard to put a finger on the negative feeling I get when I know and see it happening. It’s one thing to have a gun to your head. But it’s another thing when those who are supposed to be the good guys are, in effect, agreeing with the gun to your head.
But that is the blessing with the seven laws, at least as I understand it. The seven laws do not automatically make you part of a select group. You don’t get membership to a club. As far as day to day life goes, I basically have my family, my wife and children, as my main “social” group. I don’t have to see rabbis. I don’t have to go to regular meetings with anyone like me with regards to acknowledging the seven laws or the God of creation. I can be just out in the world, like the spark or shard that I am, alive for a short time and then fizzling out to nothing with no promise of futurity.
You see, for me personally, I think that meeting someone who knows something about Torah sets up an expectation in my mind about them. They’re supposed to have reached some basic level of goodness. And when, as is often the case, they hold an ideal or a value or live according to a code that is below that expectation, that disappoints me. For things that are not important, disappointment doesn’t matter too much. Life goes on and the general consistency of it is unaffected. But for core values … for me, that sort of disappointment causes me to start to withdraw, maybe out of self-protection. The consistency is broken to a significant extent.
It’s difficult to be close to someone who is going to pat the back of your attacker. It’s difficult to be close to someone who, with glee, takes a dump on that which you value most. It seems to be a betrayal to be close to someone who vocally and actively hates the person you love.
At least when I deal with total strangers or the normal pleb around me, that expectation is not there. I don’t expect for that person to be decent, good or bad. When the immoral opinions come or immoral acts, I can shrug my shoulders and just get on with it. I don’t have to challenge it or feel challenged by it. Why not? Because there’s no standard that that individual is supposed to have for me to feel dissonance at the lack of consistency that I perceive!
It makes me somewhat chuckle that people think that first they “become noahide,” (which to me just means joining a religious group … that’s not a complimentary or approving statement), and then crave to be part of something so they look to create or participate in “noahide groups” or “noahide communities” or “noahide virtual communities” as if that element, the religious “noahide” element, will curb the loneliness. It’s their lives. My chuckling is not to scorn what they want to do. Well, not all of it anyway.
I chuckle because of the difference in my own personal life journey. I’ve found less loneliness on my own than amongst “noahides.” Loneliness abates, for me, when I’m just having a rare chat with some guy from my wife’s church or some guy I play football with. [I’m from the UK, so when I say “football” I mean “real” football, the game you play controlling the ball with your feet, which americans call “soccer.” I had a good laugh with some american having a non-serious play argument with him about his “football” as opposed to european “football.” LOL!] I have a deep and intense love for God and Torah, that doesn’t seem to be my point of loneliness right now.
I embrace the fact that a non-Jew, a Gentile, and therefore I’m in a world mainly full of Gentiles, people who are not Jewish. I didn’t “join the noahides.” I distance myself from those who call themselves “ger.” I’m just a dude, a guy, out in the world. And I think acknowledging that as opposed to looking to or for seven-laws-knowledgeable Gentiles and Torah-observant Jews may save me a lot more heartache.
At least, that’s how it looks for now. It may change by next week. Who knows?
Every now and again, I like to think about one of the seven laws, go through its basic principles and just revise that law. By “revise,” I mean the sort of revising someone does to prepare for an exam, looking through previous notes to absorb and retain info. So first I’ll write down what I think the core details are – that’s my main aim here, not necessarily the extensions – and then I’ll compare with the resources I have.
So one of the laws is known as “eiver min hachai,” or the prohibition against eating meat taken from an animal while that animal is alive.
So this does not mean it is forbidden to take meat or a limb from an animal while it’s alive. It means that it is forbidden to eat that meat.
This prohibits the eating of the meat, not the blood. The core command does not forbid the blood taken from a living animal. Also, once the animal is dead, there is no prohibition regarding the blood. I remember, as a christian in a non-mainstream denomination, thinking I had to wash the meat or soak it to remove the blood. It is a command for Jews to remove the blood, but it is not so for us Gentiles. So we can wash meat out of logical hygiene, but there is no divine command upon us to be scrupulous about the removal of blood.
Essentially, our aim should be to make sure an animal is fully dead before eating it. That death refers to death with a total cessation of movement. If a person cuts the meat and afterwards the animal spasms, then the cut meat is forbidden.
It doesn’t matter if that meat gets packaged, frozen, stored for days or weeks. None of that matters. The issue is this: was the animal dead before the meat was taken?
I’m not quite sure the prohibition includes the bone. I’ll have to check the resources when I get to the next section.
This prohibition does not cover insects and it doesn’t cover … ah, I was about to type birds, but it’s not “birds” as we define it. It is more properly “flying things.” So the prohibition doesn’t cover insects or flying things or water creatures, like fish. It seems limited roughly or generally to what we call “mammals.”
Ok, so that’s the core prohibition. Let me compare that to the resources I have. (I am writing this “chronologically,” so any mistakes I’ve made will remain to be corrected by what follows.)
Rashi says this when commenting on Genesis 9:4:
flesh with its soul: He prohibited them [to eat] a limb [cut off from] a living creature; i.e., as long as its soul is in it, you shall not eat the flesh. — [from Sanh. ad loc.] [i.e., if the limb is cut from the animal while it is alive, it is forbidden to be eaten even after the animal expires.]
with its soul, its blood: As long as its soul is within it.
flesh with its soul…you shall not eat: This refers to a limb of a living creature. And also, its blood, you shall not eat-This refers to blood of a living creature. — [from above source]
Then let’s see what Rambam says. He agrees mainly with what’s been said above but disagrees on a certain point. This is from Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings and their Wars, Chapter 9, halakhot 10 to 12. It does continue to 13 but nothing significant is added there for the purposes of this article.
(10) 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.
(11) 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.
(12) 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.
The words I emphasised shows the difference between Rashi and Rambam. Let’s see what Ramban can add to this.
Rashi writes: flesh with its soul means while its soul, i.e., its life, is still in it. – The verse means: flesh with its soul you shall not eat. Thus you have the prohibition against eating limb which is severed from a living animal. And, in addition, blood you shall not eat. Thus you have the prohibition against eating blood drawn from a live [animal].
[Ramban clarifies the essence of Rashi’s interpretation:]
Accordingly, [Scripture] is saying, Flesh with its soul “and” the blood of [such flesh], you shall not eat.
[Ramban disagrees with Rashi’s interpretation and presents his own:]
But this explanation, according to the plain meaning of the verse, is not sound. Furthermore, even according to rabbinical exegesis, [Rashi’s explanation] is not halachically true. For the Noahides were only commanded concerning refraining from eating a limb that was severed from a living [animal], as is the opinion of the majority of the Sages, but not concerning eating blood drawn from a living [animal], as is the opinion of Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel (Sanhedrin 59a).
Rather, the interpretation [of the verse] is: But flesh with its soul – which is its blood – you shall not eat, for the soul of any creature is its blood. (taken from “The Torah: with RambaN’s commentary, translated, annotatated, and elucidated, Bereishis/Genesis” where Ramban comments on Genesis 9:4)
As the explaining footnotes are very helpful, let me quote them too.
4. i.e., Rashi understands its soul and its blood as two separate terms, and the verse thus includes two distinct prohibitions: (1) a limb from a living animal, (2) blood from a living animal.
5. There is no conjunctive [vav or waw] (“and”) preceding the word [damo, “its blood”] to justify interpreting the verse as, and its blood.
6. Ramban is noting that though Rashi’s interpretation of the verse does concur with the opinion of Rabbi Chanina, it is only the minority view, and it is not accepted as halachah.
7. Leviticus 17:14. Hence, the term soul and blood express a single concept and, unlike Rashi, our verse includes only the prohibition against eating a limb of a live animal … (.ibid)
To refer to a few modern books, I’ll start with The Divine Code, by rabbi Moshe Weiner. On page 303 it says,
… a Gentile is liable for a capital sin only for eating eiver min ha’chai meat from mammals (in the specific conditions explained in topics 1:12 and 3:1 which follow), but not from birds.
I do know that rabbi Moshe Weiner says that the prohibition applies to more creatures, but I’m focusing only on what is part of the core seven laws, that which makes a person liable. According to the Talmud and others, what is part of the seven laws makes a person liable. Hmmm … Maybe someday I can do another article about how the core commands blossom out into much wider teachings.
Please note, I’m using this quote as it is concise and encompasses a lot without me having to add too many quotes.
Anyway, let’s carry on with the info from the resources. A few more from the Divine Code.
The prohibition against consuming flesh from a living animal does
not apply to fish and insect-like creatures. (.ibid, page 300)
Blood from a living animal is not included in this prohibition. (.ibid, page 303)
A little aside, page 307, topic 3 says bone is not included in the core prohibition.
In rabbi Mikhael Shelomo bar-Ron’s book, Guide for the Noahide, Part 2, section 6, he writes this:
Not to eat raw flesh or cooked meat removed from an animal before it has completely cease to convulse after slaughter or death by other means, be it a domesticated or non-domesticated mammal, from pure species (that can be offered on the altar) or impure species (that cannot be offered). Again: the capital prohibition for non-Jews does not apply to bird flesh and certainly not fish …
… There was never a Divine prohibition against consuming blood that was removed from a non-living animal for non-Jews; only for Israel. Despite the overly literal reading, blood — even from a living creature — is not forbidden for Noahide consumption. (Laws of Kings & Wars 14-17[10-14])
I could quote from other resources that I have. I love the way Elisheva Barre’s book, Torah for Gentiles, puts this across. But when it comes to discussing the practical parts of the law, it’ll just be a rephrasing of what has been said before.
Now, going through the different books, it’s amazing how much more there is to this law: the deeper meaning to the law, the possible reasons for it, the lessons and principles that are not the core but are still important to know. Believe me, I think this law is taken for granted. I think this law, like the law of Dinim/Justice, is not given as much airtime as other laws, like that of murder or idolatry, but for a different reason than the law of Justice.
I’ve heard people say it’s too simple, that it is obvious, that people keep it nowadays naturally. But again, the principle of making sure an animal is actually and fully dead before partaking of it … it requires a patience and attention that, I believe, is easy to just brush past. Does everyone have the same definition of death? I think there is an importance in this law that is too easily brushed aside.
Anyway, that’s all where it comes to the law.
But there is an objection that I’ve heard which I want to tackle here. Someone said, with disgust, that this law allows a person to eat even roadkill. The objection was against the seeming basic nature of this law. The implication was that there aught to be a divine law against eating certain other dead creatures like roadkill.
To me, there is a morality to this law that I can’t help but respect. What is it? Make sure an animal has absolutely no chance of having to experience the removal of a limb while it is conscious. And then once that animal is dead, then you can start the chopping, cooking and eating process.
Now, what is immoral about eating an animal that has died? Even if it died from a road accident or whatever vehicular means, where’s the immorality? There aught to be a law? Really? Even if there is a question about hygiene, is it really just and right to punish a Gentile for eating roadkill? I don’t think so.
Remember, the seven laws, although quite a detailed system, is the bedrock, something foundational for a non-Jew to build upon. And I believe that truly appreciating the laws, even this one, can lead to a morality that exceeds them.