To Determine Animal Rights,'
Turn To Torah, Not To PETA
(Torah portion), is full of it. Tzav
means "command." What does God
command? "This is the Torah of the
burnt offering ... which shall be burnt
upon the altar all night until morning."
They didn't burn the animal. First they
had to slaughter it.
In fact, our parshah alone covers the
following topics: the burnt offering,
ust when we thought that our
the meal offering, the offering of the
good friends at PETA (People
priests at their inauguration, the sin
for the Ethical Treatment of
offering, the guilt offering and the
Animals) had marginalized
themselves to the point of irrelevance,
So, as a thinking Jew, I'm left with
they went and proved us
two choices. Either I can
choose to believe that the
Armed with a new "The
sacrifices reflect some primi-
Holocaust on Your Plate" ad
tive bloodthirsty tendency
campaign, comparing the
on the part of early man,
treatment of animals to the
and they have nothing to say
victims of the Holocaust, our
to me or any relevance to my
friends in the animal rights
life. Or it cannot just be
camp have managed to raise
about animal sacrifice.
their insensitivity and
If I can throw away one
immorality to even greater
part of the Torah, I can
heights than we thought pos-
throw away any other that
doesn't agree with my cur-
The ADL has mobilized.
rent worldview, such as
The National Holocaust
Special to the
homosexuality, adultery or
Museum sent PETA a cease-
any other rule that makes me
and-desist letter demanding
uncomfortable. Or I can
that PETA remove protected
choose to believe that God
images from its literature. There's only
knows what He's doing, and that every
one problem with the fight against
word of the Torah is holy and true.
PETA. Most Jews agree with them.
I choose the latter, without apolo-
Oh, not about that vile "Holocaust
on Your Plate" ad campaign. That
So what are the sacrifices all about?
crude and immoral crusade trivializes
First we have to ask ourselves: What's
the suffering of the victims of the real
wrong with them? I'm assuming you're
Holocaust. But if you ask the average
reading this article on Friday night after
Jew about animal sacrifice, most actual-
your Shabbat dinner. What did you
ly agree with PETA. It's barbaric. It's
eat? If you're like most people, you had
bloody. And it's wrong.
a piece of fish or chicken or maybe
But it's also in the Torah.
even a slice of meat. If so, then we real-
Yes, Orthodox Jews actually believe
ly have no problem with killing ani-
in animal sacrifice. Not only do I
mals, as long as someone else does it for
believe in it, I think that it's a good
us and we don't have to see the blood.
thing; and I hope that with the coming
But, if we don't have a moral issue
of Mashiach (Messiah) and the rebuild-
with killing animals for our own bene-
ing of the Temple, we'll be offering sac-
fit, how then can we have a moral issue
rifices again quite soon. Why? Because
killing that same animal for God?
God tells me to.
Even a casual reading of the Torah
demonstrates the centrality of animal
sacrifice to classical (read here:
Orthodox) Judaism. When Rabbi
Yehuda Hanasi codified the Mishnah,
What is the fundamental biblical
the first written version of the Oral
definition of proper service of
Law, the fifth order, titled "Kodshim"
the Almighty? To what extent are
— fully one-sixth of the known oral
animal sacrifices a critical part of
tradition deals with laws of a sacrificial
Jewish Divine service, and where
nature. "Tzav," this week's parshat
do we place the sacrifices in our
hierarchy of expressions of reli-
Reuven Spolter is rabbi of Young Israel
of Oak Park. His e-mail address is
Shabbat Parah, Parshat
Tzav: Leviticus 6:1-
8:36; Numbers 19:1-
22; Ezekiel 36:16-38.
Jewry's Role in
MASTERS OF PHOTOGRAPHY
The distinctive vision of many noted Jewish American photographers has
helped elevate the medium to an art form. Such was true for the widely
exhibited and praised pictures of Diane Arbus who abandoned fashion
photography for a look at the bizarre underworld of drug addicts,
prostitutes and the dead and dying. Philippe Halsman, his name a
signature in many publications, was also elected president of the American
Society of Magazine Photographers.
Widely admired is Irving Penn, a commercial photographer who
uniquely models his subjects with expressive flair. Jill Krementz and
Simpson Kalisher are major photographers whose works are seen
nationwide in museums and galleries. And while he is known to few,
Russian-born Roman Vishniae was perhaps the world's foremost science
photographer of the microscopically small. Other leaders include:.
(1864-1946) b. Hoboken, NJ Although an
American, Stieglitz enrolled as an engineering
student in Berlin Polytechnic, but dropped out
soon after acquiring a camera. Amateur
photography became a passion which he shared
with a large circle of painter friends, arguing that
photography deserves the same aesthetic status as
graphic art. He returned to New York in 1890,
influenced by the flourishing avant-garde movement in German art which
seeded a lifelong mission: to win favor for what was regarded as a
The gifted, prize-winning photographer spearheaded his crusade.
from 1893 on, as editor of the American Amateur Photographer, Camera
Notes and Camera Works which received international recognition: In
collaboration with Edward Steichen, a like-minded photographer and artist,
he opened the historic Gallery "291" in 1907. Often displayed were the
early paintings of Picasso and Matissse, as well as Brancusi sculptures,
blended with the works of talented American photographers. He had
previously organized a landmark pictorial exhibition at New York's
National Arts Club, an event that joined emerging photographers in a group
called the Photo-Secession.
Alternating between gallery administration and active photography,
the father of America's photo renaissance is best noted for his sensitive
studies of New York City life. Many of his memorable portraits were of
Georgia O'Keeffe, the celebrated artist he married in 1924 and whose
career he helped build.
(1913-54) b. Budapest, Hungary
the agony and nightmare of war, framed with
sensitivity and compassion, were hallmarks of one
of this century's greatest photojournalists. Born
Andre Friedmann, he adopted the pseudonym
Robert Capa soon after his flight from Nazism to
Paris. Early fame came in 1936 with the grim
classic snapped during the Spanish Civil War:
"Death of a Loyalist Soldier." After emigrating to the U.S., he documented
China's invasion by the Japanese.
The fearless photographer was later assigned by Life magazine to
cover the D-Day landings in Normandy and the violent fighting in Africa,
Sicily and Italy. In alliance with French photographer Henri Cartier-
Bresson, Capa also founded Magnum Photos, an agency for free-lance
photographers. His death by a land mine during the Indochina war was an
ironic martyrdom to the subject he made his own.
Cornell Capa, brother of Robert and an outstanding photographer
in his own right, focused largely on historical and_ social news events, and
founded the International Center of Photography in 1974.
- Saul Stadtmauer
My belated note of gratitude to Marvin Cherrin who supplied vital
information about John von Neumann. The mathematical genius who
helped launch the computer age was featured in our May 15, 1998 column.
- Walter L. Field
Visit many more notable Jews at our website: www.dorledor.org
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Waiter & Lea Field, Founders/Sponsors
Irwin S. Field, Chairperson
Harriet F. Siden, Chairperson