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Cambridge Interfaith Programme

 
White duck with ducklings, seated on grass beside still water

What’s the logic behind biblical eating prohibitions? Are commandments intended to promote the consumption of vegetarian animals? How come ducks—devourers of fish, insects, and frogs—can be part of a kosher diet?

Dr Daniel Weiss explores these and related questions in a new article for TheTorah.com.

The article adapts, summarises, and builds upon findings first published in his 2019 essay, “Bloodshed and the Ethics and Theopolitics of the Jewish Dietary Laws”. That essay appeared in a scholarly collection, Feasting and Fasting: The History and Ethics of Jewish Food (edited by Aaron S. Gross, Jody Myers, and Jordan R. Rosenblum; NYU Press, 2019). 

Spoiler alert

If this focus on food seems to be at odds with Daniel’s recent work on violence, there is a common thread:

For at least 22 centuries, exegetes have highlighted the predatory behaviour of the animals excluded from Jewish cuisine. As this new open-access read shows, there is an important difference between biblical understandings of the creatures a duck eats and those subject to the attacks of a hawk, shark, or bear: blood and, by corollary, violence.

To delve into the detail, head over to TheTorah.com.

Further information

About TheTorah.com

Established to make academic biblical scholarship accessible and engaging to readers from all backgrounds, TheTorah.com is the flagship website of Project TABS (Torah and Biblical Scholarship), a nonprofit 501(c)3 educational enterprise founded in 2012. The project team solicit original essays from experts on history, archaeology, ancient Near Eastern studies, Egyptology, Semitic languages, textual criticism, and literary approaches.  Visit TheTorah.com to read Daniel’s essay and other accessible scholarship

The 2019 essay collection 

Gross, Myers and Rosenblum brought together a collection covering different historical eras (rabbinic, medieval and modern), specific foods and subcultures (including garlic, peanut oil, and wine) and seven essays on different ethical aspects of biblical and/or Jewish dietary praxis. Bookended by the Jewish historian Hasia Diner (foreword) and novelist and food activist Jonathan Safran Foer (epilogue), the book provides fodder for those hungering to understand how food and religion intersect. See more information and buying options (from NYUpress.org).

Dr Daniel Weiss’s recent publications

Daniel’s interest in the intersections of biblical rules and their intercultural application by Jews past and present is also illustrated by the co-edited essay collection Scripture and Violence (with Julia Snyder, Routledge, 2021) and his latest monograph: Modern Jewish Philosophy and the Politics of Divine Violence (CUP, 2023). See further the upcoming launch event (22 September, online and in Cambridge) and the CIP project on Scripture and Violence.
 

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