Why people aren't Kosher

[Warning: this is a little morbid, but I think it is instructive of how flexible the Torah can be, and how many ways there are to look at any problem, even a gruesome one.]

Someone at lunch today tried to convince me that people are kosher..to eat. (Or at least, if one were to be accidentally schechted l'halachah, then they would be. [He claimed to have asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe about it once. We'll have to clear that up at some point.]) His argument was based on the fact that Man isn't an animal.

I thought of two strategies to disagree: [aside from bringing up the heter for babies to drink mother's milk.]

  1. There are four levels of created entities: 1) lifeless, 2) vegetative, 3) living, 4) speaking. When Man was created, HaShem initially gave him permission to eat of the lifeless and vegetative levels of created entities. (lifeless would be like water & salt, neither of which is it clear we make a berachah on, btw) Even in the case of eating vegetative things we know their are limitations. (at least for Jews re: destroying fruit bearing trees) Later HaShem loosened the rules a little more (Noah) and allowed man to eat also of the 'living' entities, but only once they were dead. So the first thing we notice is that God's rules were initially more restrictive and become a little more permissive, but there was never a time when eating 'speaking' entities (people) was permitted. So the argument that "people are not animals" does not strengthen the argument that people might be permitted to be eaten, in effect it weakens that argument.
  2. God forbade Jews from contaminating their souls by eating all manner of vermin. These vermin also impart impurity. A dead person's body also imparts a much higher level of impurity, by this connection, perhaps one could see also that intuitively eating people is clearly forbidden. You might want to say that the holier animals if they are properly slaughtered do not impart impurity and so since Man is holier than animals, perhaps a person properly slaughtered might be permitted. The problem is that we see that the body of someone who dies in Eretz Yisrael, even though according to R' Avraham Azulai they are considered to be "slaughtered with a kosher knife," imparts impurity the same as the body of someone who dies outside of Israel. So the argument that a properly slaughtered person might be permitted doesn't appear to be the case.


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