This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
Why Shechitah Is Important
The Jewish people today are facing many conflicts. One of these concerns shechitah, the ritual slaughter of fowls, lambs and beef so that Jews are permitted to eat the meat. A number of groups are applying pressure in an attempt to ban shechitah, or to impose government laws which would prevent it from being carried out effectively.
Why is it important to protect our right to perform shechitah?
In practical terms, shechitah is virtually painless for the animal. The special shechitah knife is honed razor sharp: if it sliced a person's finger he would not feel it. The act of shechitah generally cuts the carotid arteries, causing immediate cessation of the blood supply to the brain. This is an effective, swift and pain-free stunning procedure. Many contrast this with the fixed bolt form of stunning used in non-kosher slaughter which anti-meat-eating groups describe in very negative terms.
A Question of Emphasis
The Midrash on this week's parshah quotes an interesting argument between Rabbi Levi and the sages as to the primacy of G‑d's commandments. Rabbi Levi felt that the recitation of Shema is the primary mitzvah. The sages felt that observing the Shabbat is primary.
We can understand their difference of opinion in the following manner. The difference between Shabbat and Shema is that Shabbat is a holy day even if we don't observe it. Shema, on the other hand, is created by our performance. If we recite the Shema it becomes reality, if we don't it is merely a concept. Shema is an action, Shabbat is an existence in time.
Fusing Idealism and Realism
There are two types of people: the idealists and the realists. The idealistic folks dream of a world with social justice, body-soul synchrony, environmental conservation, and of living with higher consciousness. The realistic people invest in practical and obtainable goals like financial security, time management and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Personally, I resonate with both the idealist and the realist. I think we're probably all a composite of both, albeit a little more of one side than the other.