Ask The Rabbi

Mad Cows and Englishmen

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Cows, Mad Cow Disease

Rene Leermakers wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I am wondering whether Jewish law would have prevented the mad-cow-disease problems in the UK. Kosher animals are largely herbivorous and I have always thought that this is not accidental. Is it forbidden to eat cows that eat meat? Shalom


Dear Rene Leermakers,

No, it's not forbidden to eat cows that eat meat. In this sense, Kashrut laws would not necessarily protect people from eating 'mad-cows.'

But you're right: It's not accidental that kosher animals are largely herbivorous:

Rabbi S.R. Hirsch writes that vegetables - in some respects - are the preferred food for a person's spirituality. In the animal world, herbivores are the most desirable for food: Since they eat only plants, they are nearer to the plant world than the carnivores.

Rabbi Hirsch draws a second parallel between kosher animals and plants:

Kosher animals have four stomachs: The food passes through two stomachs, goes up to the mouth and is chewed again, and is then sent down to the other two stomachs. "Thus," writes Rabbi Hirsch, "these animals spend a great deal of time in the absorption of food, which may be termed the vegetative activity of animals." In this respect, kosher animals are more 'planty' than carnivores, which have short intestines and spend little time in the passive, plant-like digestive activity.

Speaking of mad cows:

Two cows are having a chat (sh*moo*zing?) in the English countryside:

One cow says to the other: "Bert, aren't you worried about this terrible new disease that everyone's talking about?"

"Not at all," answers Bert.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm a squirrel."


 
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