This week in synagogues worldwide, the annual cycle of Torah public reading is renewed, with Simhat Torah (Rejoicing in Torah), the last festival of the Fall holy days that marks both the conclusion of the cycle and its prompt renewal with the book of Genesis.
There in the terse narration of creation (that resembles the process of evolution as willed by God) the first earthlings are charged with “hold[ing] sway over” the earth’s fauna (Genesis 1:28), but that does not mean that humans are entitled to eat the flesh of animals or even their by-products. Indeed, the Creator prescribes a pure vegan regimen to all the living creatures beginning with humans (Gen. 1:29-30) which He repeats again: “From every fruit of the garden you may surely eat” (2:16).
Ten generations later, God similarly instructs Noah to stock and store such food on his ark to sustain all of its travelers (Gen. 6:21) for the duration of the forthcoming flood and its immediate aftermath. To be sure, even if meat had been permitted it could not have been kept in an edible form to say the least throughout that period.
Only upon disembarkation does God permits Noah (and humankind) to consume meat, just “like the green plants” (9:3), however, sans the animal’s blood. Or in other words, meat may now be added to the human diet but without blood in it, meaning also that humane slaughtering – the Kosher method -- was required to avoid cutting into the animal with “its lifeblood still in it” (9:4), a biblical requisite that the meat industry today falls way short of meeting.
Still, the very consumption of meat is in and by itself a testament to a world that is not redeemed, yet to reclaim its perfection. When the prophet Isaiah describes the eating regimen of creation’s fauna in a perfected world it is clear that all living creatures revert “back to the future” when even both “the cow and the bear shall graze… and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:7).