Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Milk!

Yesterday I came across an interesting thing in the Sefer Taamei Minhagim Umkorei Hadinim by Rabbi Moshe Sperling. He brings down the Rokeach who states that the consumption of dairy products was, until the giving of the Torah, forbidden, and so when the the Torah was given the Jews celebrated by eating cheesecake.
Why was dairy forbidden in the first place? Because it's Aiver Min Hachai, i.e. a limb from a living animal. I thought, "Hey, that's a really cool answer!" and determined to track down the source, which turned out to be the Gemara in Bechoros, which thanks to Artscroll I didn't have to break my head over. A lot of what I'm going to write now is based on their translation and commentary; as far as I can recall there's no Issur involved, but if there is....
The Gemara on 6B (2, for those keeping score with their Artscrolls) states that we would have thought that a person can use milk from a non-Kosher animal, because we're allowed to use milk from a Kosher animal. The Gemara brings two reasons for this: The first is that milk is made from blood, which is normally prohibited. When Hashem permitted blood, we would think that he permitted milk (transformed blood) from all creatures. Therefore the Torah has to specfically lay down the law. There is a problem with this answer according to one opinion (look it up), so the Gemara brings the additional rationale that since Hashem permitted us to use a "limb" (milk) from a living Kosher animal, we would think he permitted us to use a "limb" (milk) from any living animal. This is why the Torah has to specify that dairy from a non-Kosher source is prohibited.
Milk being a "limb" is pretty hard to understand, because it seems to be a separate entity; therefore many Acharonim say that the Gemara holds there should be a problem with dairy because it's from an animal that hasn't been shechted properly.
I don't understand why this would answer the question. According to the simple way of learning the Gemara, the problem is that the milk is a "limb", and eating dairy from a live animal would seem to be forbidden. According to the way the Acharonim explain it, the problem is that you're eating something which wasn't shechted properly. It's a problem to eat something which wasn't shechted properly because it's (the milk) considered to be...what? If shechting solves the problem, why is this called Aiver Min Hachai by the Gemara? It's entirely a problem of schechita. The Gemara seems to be saying that the reason we're allowed to eat dairy is because the prohibition of Aiver Min Hachai was relaxed by Hashem in the case of Kosher milk.
The Gemara implies that before Matan Torah dairy from a dead animal was permitted. According to the Acharonim, would that mean that before Matan Torah only dairy from a properly shechted animal was permitted? In general, are non-Jews nowadays allowed to have milk? It would seem that they can only have milk from a dead animal; after all, we got the Torah which allows to have dairy from a live cow, but non-Jews didn't get the Torah. According to the Acharonim, this wouldn't seem to be a problem, because non-Jews are only commanded to not eat a limb from a living animal; they have nothing to do with shechita.
Before the giving of the Torah, what was the issue according to the Acharonim? They say that the issue is shechita. Before Matan Torah, no one kept shechita anyway, because there were no Jews to shecht. In general, with regards to meat, I assume that they ate meat that post-Matan Torah is not permitted. So before Matan Torah, the Acharonim would allow a non-Jew to have dairy from any dead animal, while a Jew could only have from a Kosher animal (remember, they kept all the laws of the Torah before Matan Torah). After Matan Torah, without the Torah's special dispensation, a Jew is only allowed dairy from a properly slaughtered animal. A non-Jew can have dairy from any dead animal, since they don't have a problem with eating non-properly slaughtered animals. With the Torah's dispensation, a Jew can have dairy from a live Kosher animal, though it has not been shechted. I don't understand how allowing dairy from an animal which has not been properly slaughtered is the same as allowing dairy from a living animal. It seems that the Acharonim are merely allowing us to have dairy from a properly shechted animal.
The simple explanation of the Gemara makes a lot more sense (in my humble [and probably deficient] opinion. Before Matan Torah, all milk from dead animals was permitted; after the giving of the Torah, milk from a live Kosher animal was permitted.
Non-Jews still seem to have a problem, because the Torah did not permit them to have milk from a live animal, whether Kosher or non-Kosher, but this is not my problem.

Anyway, the Gemara asks a simple question: How do we know that the Torah allowed us to have milk from a Kosher animal? It brings several proofs, quickly knocks them away, and ends with three Pesukim from which to learn the dispensation. The first is in 1 Samuel, 17:18, where David was given cheese from his father Yishai for his brothers on the battlefield. This verse only seems to prove that dairy is permitted, but it's not Hashem coming down with fire and brimstone and saying, "Thou mayest eateth the milk of thine beasts!" The next Passuk is from Shemos 3:17, "A land flowing with milk and honey." Would Hashem praise the land with forbidden items? This verse seems to be more in the vein of a command, but it's still not the same. The third Passuk is from Isiah 55:1, where he tells people to go buy and eat milk, implying that it's fine.

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed this little explanation. I hate tooting my own horn (right!), but I had some nice comments on VIN that you should check out. I'm the commenter named "TRS". And that, as we say, is a wrap. Oh, before you finish folding that wrap (turkey, pastrami, pickle, lettuce, corn chips), the poll should say "Penne a la Vodka", not the other way 'round. Only Lubavitchers would have a alcochol with a little bit of noodles, and of course this blog is meant for everybody.


Nemo said...

Sorry, was a little hard to follow and there were a number of disconnects in the explanation.

The Real Shliach said...

I worked for three hours on this thing, trying to figure it all out and make sense. The problem is that I was editing shtuff out of order, and once I finished I really didn't feel like going back and making it presentable. Nu Nu.

menachem said...

see this artiicle from Aish (Reason #6) Why goyim are allowed to drink milk, even before mattan torah.

also, when posting long thoughts like this, you may want to consider putting a blank line between every paragraph. It really makes it easier to read.

The Real Shliach said...

I'll make sure to notify the TRS of 2008.