Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Age Against Shechita

The Age on Friday and today had a number of articles about shechita and halal slaughtering (here, here and here with an editorial here). That paper accused Moslem and Jewish communities of cruelty to animals by claiming that they do not stun the animals before, or after, slaughter in at least one particular abattoir in Victoria.

There are at least two obvious mistakes in those articles. One is that there is currently no export of sheep or beef to Israel from Australia. The other, more glaring and obvious error, is that sheep are not stunned during slaughter in any case. Large cattle such as beef are shechted and then stunned in accordance to Australian law. It is true that there are rabbinic authorities overseas who do not agree with this practice but, from what I understand, all rabbis in Australia
accept that this is OK.

The killing of animals is not pleasant but, unless we all become vegetarians, it is a fact of life. According to chassidus we are elevating the food that we eat by making a brocha and using the energy to do mitzvos. There are numerous laws in Judaism prohibiting cruelty to animals and shechita is one of them. The Age assumes that Judaism is some sort of ancient, barbarous religion and isn't as enlightened as their editors. It therefore follows, according to their reasoning, that our ritual killing of animals must be cruel and antiquated. They are sorely mistaken.