TEACHINGS OF THE ECOKOSHER REBBE
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ECO-KASHRUT

"Kee am kadosh atah laYHVH Elohekha uvkha ba'har YHVH lihyot lo l'am segulah mikol haameem asher al-pnai haadamah. LO TOKHAL KOL-TOEYVAH! (Because you are a nation consecrated to ADONAI, your Creator, and because you are chosen out of all the nations on the face of the earth to be a nation that is a special treasure for ADONAI; YOU SHALL NOT EAT ANY ABOMINATION!) DEUTERONOMY 14: 2-3

****ECOKOSHER IS AN INTERFAITH SPIRITUAL BASED PRACTICE OF CONSCIOUSNESS THAT PROMOTES A BALANCE IN NATURE WITH THE BEAUTY AND HARMONY OF THE UNIVERSE****

Rabbi Arthur Waskow's description of Eco-Kosher in "Down-to-Earth Judaism" (William Morrow and Company, 1995) can be used as a guideline for an Interfaith practice of ECOKASHRUT.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that ECOKOSHER is a Path of Balance and Harmony. It is not a Path that is totally one way or the other, but balances the principles of Severity with those of Compassion, on the Tree of Life.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us not to take from the earth without asking her permission (this is done by offering thanks, blessings, and by not taking or using what is not actually needed), nor should we harvest her plants, animals or minerals faster than they can be replenished.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that the resources of food, clothing, shelter, knowledge, medicine, etc., should never be wasted, but shared willingly with those who are in need. If we live in harmony with Nature, Nature in turn will treat us well.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that we must not allow greed to cause us to not share our bounty with others. When we cut down Redwoods that cannot be replaced, or dig large holes in the earth to take her minerals from her, holes that disrupts the natural landscape to gain wealth, and we dump our pollution into her lakes and streams, we are creating a scenario for a future karma that will bring disaster upon our descendants. WE OR OUR DESCENDANTS WILL REAP WHAT WE SOW!

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that we cannot correct the big picture until we correct ourselves, it is important to promote the teaching of how to clean our homes and local communities responsibly; what kind of products to use; how to recycle, and reuse; and how to compost; how to grow our own food; and how to meditate with Universal Mind (GOD).

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that we need to support social causes that promote Stewardship over the earth and her resources. We need to support causes that allow ALL Peoples the right to determine the way that they will worship Creator without being missionized by others. We need to support causes that guarantee equality for all peoples, no matter their race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, age or ethnic or national origin.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that we need to support the rights of all people, but especially Indigenous peoples, to teach their ancestral traditions to their youth, and honor these Holy teachers.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that we need to offer to help teach the Indigenous peoples (i.e. American Indians) how we, as Jews, have continued to maintain our beliefs and traditions, sometimes in forced secrecy while pretending to be of a religion that was not of our ancestral tradition. We did this through times of forced conversion and Inquisition. We need to teach the Indigenous peoples how we survived as Jews and returned to our ancestral methods of worship when our persecutors ceased to persecute us. We need to also teach how we Jews responded in the past to the proslytizing and missionizing by the catholic and evangelical missionary religions.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that we Jews are an ancestral tribal belief system that does not proselytize other religions but recognizes the RIGHT of every people to its own tribal religions and to its own ancestral Path to its own concept of the One Creator, and that that Path is but one Path of the many Paths to God.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that all religions are part of the many Paths of the One Rainbow Religion of the One God for all of humanity. Every Path is needed for the whole to be complete.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that KOSHER implies a spiritual connection to the Jewish halakhah in a manner that insures that animals are honored for their sacrivice for humankind and are not treated cruelly, especially when slaughtered for food and leather goods.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that the Shokhet (ritual slaughterer) knows how to slaughter quickly and painlessly and with compassion for the animal, as the Ba'al Shem Tob once said, "he washes the blade of his knife with his tears."

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that meat (basar) should be eaten sparingly and not more than two or three times a week as the eating of meat requires that another "living being," a NEFESH CHAI, must lose its life to provide sustinance for us. The Native American Indians believe that food animals, birds, and fish, GIVE their lives to us as part of their divine karmic place in the university. In this way, food animals are "lifted up," sanctified even, as they give their lives to provide food, clothes, and other aspects for our survival. The ancient Temple ritual of animal sacrifice continues in the eating of properly slaughtered meat at our home tables.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that even eggs must not be taken from chickens who are not treated with respect and who are not allowed access to fresh air, proper food and clean water, and room enough to exercise in.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that the milk that comes from a kosher animal is only ECOKOSHER if the animal has not been subject to exploitation and cruel treatment, and the milk itself contains no non-kosher substances or meat by-products and that the milking animals are not medicated to improve milk production at the expense of milk quality and, when necessary medication of the milk animal is necessary, if the consumer is subject to ingesting small amounts of the medications, the milk is ECOTRAIF.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that workers are paid a fair wage for any work they perform.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that no one is embarrassed because of their race, religion, ethnic group, sexual orientation, or sex in the creation of an ecokosher product.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that the product carry a respected traditional kosher hekhsher, until an "Ecokosher hekhsher" can be created.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that the product meets only the highest standards of ecological, economical, sanitary and halakhic tests and quality.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that ECOKOSHER fish are fish that have BOTH fins and scales and are SAFE to eat. Kosher fish caught in areas of high levels of contamination with mercury, and other toxins are not ecokosher, are NOT FIT TO EAT, but are ECOTRAIF.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that fish caught in drag nets or in nets that kill other endangered species of sea life cannot be considered as Ecokosher fish, but are ECOTRAIF.

ECOKASHRUT teaches us that each individual plays an important part in the preservation of the system of balance in the universe in how that individual lives in accord with the personal space that they are in daily contact with. How YOU use and consume the natural resources and how YOU poison the environment (or don't poison it) really does effect the total picture. YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

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***TOWARD A MORE ECOKOSHER METHOD OF ANIMAL SLAUGHTER AND THE SUBJECT OF VEGETARIANISM***

Ancient sacrifice was not just about the killing of animals. Oil, flour, produce were also sacrifices.

Animal sacrifice was about giving up your attachment to earthly goods, similar to what the Northwest Indians call "POTLATCH or GIVEAWAY." It was the WAY that the ANCIENTS, who were agriculturalist and pastoralist, sought to connect with their concept of the Divine Spirit, GOD. To their way of thinking, it was equivalent to PRAYER.

In the nomadic society of Hebrew tribes, animals represented wealth. To convey the concept that everything belongs to the Creator (God), and that animal life is most sacred, only certain animals were allowed to be eaten, and then, only if killed in a certain manner and place, and by a certain type of holy man.

Otherwise, the act of killing an animal was equated with MURDER in the Hebrew texts. (See Leviticus 17: 4).

Most of these sacrificed animals were sacrificially killed and part of the meat given to the Holy Priests and the fat and entrails burnt of the altar, with the rest of the meat consumed by the family that had brought the animal for sacrifice. This meat was also shared with the poor. Other of these permitted animals were sacrificed and the meat given to the Priests (Holy men) of the Temple, where the slaughter was permitted.

Only a few animals were totally offered as a sacrifice to God, and then, only at special times and seasons. But every animal offered represented a significant outpouring of the individuals wealth. Today, money or time represent what animal sacrifices did in ancient times. The prayers of our lips substitute for the sacrifice of bulls (Prophet Hosea 14: 2-3).

Our Jewish tradition teaches us that reading the words of how the ancient sacrifices were done accomplishes the offering of the sacrifice as though we had offered the sacrifice in its time and in its place in the Temple.

When a Third Temple is built, it will NOT be a place of the killing of animals, instead, it will be a House of Prayer for ALL People (Isaiah 56: 7). It will not be off limits to those of other religions or ethnic cultures. Instead, it will incorporate the worship styles and practices of ALL religions, who will now understand that though we worship God by different Names and customs, we all worship the SAME GOD!

The only animals to be sacrificed in this Third Temple will be offered symbolically in prayers offered, not in physical reality. God's House is not a glorified slaughterhouse!

VEGETARIANISM

First off, I would like to point out that I do not care if a person decides to take on him or herself the principle of keeping a vegetarian diet. If properly done, with proper protein substitution and vitamin suplementation, the diet can be observed with nearly the same benefits as a diet containing once or twice a week portions of meat protein.

I become concerned only when the person who has chosen the vegetarian path decides that it is his or her JOB to missionize everyone else to do the same.

As with ALL missionary systems, the fact that one has to proslytize others shows that the person is not totally convinced as to the path being a proper course of action.

If the vegetarian is totally concerned as to the pain and suffering caused to the animal to be slaughtered, let him or her lobby to have more individual ritual slaughterers trained in compassionate slaughtering techniques (i. e. Ecokosher slaughtering), instead of the "factory" methods currently being practiced.

If the vegetarian is concerned as to the taking of the animals life, let him or her take a vow that he or she will not take any form of animal life, including human life. Then I shall be able to respect that person more.

Since the 1970s, when Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi coined the concept of "Eco Kosher" as a method of being an environmentally kosher conscious Jew, many Jews have looked to ecokosher as an acceptable method of kashrut.

Many well meaning Jews have become vegan, or practice another form of vegetarianism. Many of these have not understood the importance of animal fats and enzymes in their diets, especially in the diets of growing children, and as a result, suffer from various environmental diseases at a greater rate than non vegetarians.

Many Jews have limited their consumption of animal products to that of, and from, free-range, organically grown animals. Many others only eat animal meat on the Sabbath and Festivals.

Studies of human anthropology shows that human beings were not "created" to be vegetarian, but are, by nature, omnivorous. The dental structure of early humanoids have meat tearing incisors, that are designed for ripping and tearing through flesh.

The teaching of indigenous peoples concerning the eating of plant and animal life during the time that they are "in season" should be looked at as a more holistic diet for people involved in an ECOKOSHER lifestyle, with meats being more needed in the diet in the winter time or during times of famine.

Although scientific studies conducted in New Zealand in 1994, showed vegetarians to be, on the whole, healthier than meat eaters, this same study also showed that most vegetarians were also more health conscious than the average meat eaters. The meat eaters who showed a similar consciousness to vegetarians, i. e., Mormons and meat eating Seventh Day Adventists, showed themselves to be equally as healthy as vegetarians (Knudsen and Mills, Study on Vegetarianism vs. Meat Consumption, 1994, New Zealand).

Thus, Vegans and Vegetarians do not truely possess a healthier diet than do those who eat meat sparingly.

A Chinook Medicine Man has said of the Columbia River Salmon runs, "Creator sends us the Salmon for us to catch and eat. If we do not do our part and catch them and use every part of the fish for our food and other things, they have no reason to come up the river. Our Ancients taught us this truth. The White Man came and we were stopped from catching the fish for the White Man built his dams, and the Salmon could not climb over them. Sure enough, since we no longer were catching the Salmon, the Salmon runs diminished and almost stopped, until this year (2001), when we again began to catch the Salmon according to our traditional methods. Now the Salmon runs are increasing for the Salmon know that Creator intended for the Native peoples to survive from eating them."

Many other tribes have similar beliefs related to the interrelationship of the people to the buffalo, to the deer, to the bear, or to other food source animals of the Native American peoples.

The Rebbe believes that the halakhic Laws of Kashrut were designed to allow for the mindful, BALANCED, consumption of food, including animal meat, while making the one who wished to eat meat mindful that they were taking a life.

With this concept in mind, and to place limits on the taking of animal life, the only meat that was allowable to be consumed by the Israelite was domesticated or trapped animals and fowl of species that were permissible as sacrificial offerings in the Temple.

This implies that meat SHOULD be consumed on regular occasions, but should be relegated in a SPIRITUAL tradition to times of celebration such as the Sabbath and Festivals.

In today's Jewish kosher meat production, the slaughter of animals and fowl has become an assembly line process that does not allow for the slaughterer (shokhet) to consciously connect his soul with that of the victim animal. Animals and fowl are often shackled and lifted up on hoists prior to being slaughtered, thus becoming cruelly frightened prior to being killed. Animals and fowl are often also raised in abhorrent living conditions for the kosher meat market. Therefore, it is my proposal that we take ecokashrut yet another step further and certify ecokosher shokhteem and shokhtot to slaughter animals according to the laws of an ECOKOSHER halakhah.

Reb Zalman defined "ecokosher" as "based upon the current cosmological understanding" and "seeing earth as a living Gaia," rather than that of "the reality maps that the Tannaim - who authored the Mishnah - (that Old Time Religion) used in understanding their place in the world [which] are different from ours. Their field of observation was narrower than ours. We, who look at distances in microns and light years, need to be freed from handbreadths and cubits."

The processes of life have three phases, (1) growth, (2) use, and (3) recycling, destruction as a further preparation to growth and use. We constantly look toward the sustainable use of biodegradable substances. We travel on spaceship Earth and everything (editor's italics) on it is constantly recycled." (Paradigm Shift, pg. 269-271)

Rabbi Zalman uses as an example, and point of reference, the verse from the Torah, "Do not destroy her (fruit) trees," (Deuteronomy 20: 19), which extends this injunction of Torah halakhah to "trees whose fruit is only oxygen."

He states, using the principle of the teaching of Rabbi Ishmael of extending a premise from a minor to a major premise (Sifra, Introduction), "Beyond this, it extends by kal vachomer to the entire planet. It begins to move from the mere lav, the Torah's simple prohibition to cut down fruit trees during a siege to extend to the bal tash'hit, the prohibition to destroy the entire planet." (Paradigm Shift, pg. 270)

Using the above as an example, Leviticus 17: 3 states "If any member of the family of Israel sacrifices an ox, sheep or goat, and does not bring it to the Ohel Moed to be offered as a sacrifice to YHVH before the sanctuary, blood shall be accounted to him (dam yeychasheyv) and that person has shed blood (dam shafakh). He shall be cut off from his people" (Rashi).

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan translates the Hebrew words, "dam yeychasheyv" as "he shall be considered a murderer, and, "dam shafakh" as ... has committed an act of murder. He bases this upon Ramban; Bachya; Chinukh 186; cf. Rashi; Targum Yonathan. He further quotes Abarbanel as stating, "It is like eating blood." (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah.)

In Deuteronomy 12: 15, it states in modification of the passages in Leviticus, "Wherever you desire, you may slaughter for food (tizbach) and eat the meat in any of your settlements, according to the blessing that YHVH your Creating Power has granted you." Further, "You must not partake of the blood....you shall say, 'I shall eat some meat,' for you have the urge to eat meat, you may eat meat whenever you wish.... you may slaughter (v'zavachta) for your food.... as I have instructed you; and you may eat to your heart's content in your settlements." (Deuteronomy 12: 16, 20-21)

Rabbi Jeffrey Tigay comments, "'You may slaughter . . . as I have instructed you.' This clause implies a prescribed method of slaughter. The text's use of the verb zavach, which refers to sacrificial slaughter, indicates that secular slaughter is to be performed by the method used in sacrificial slaughter, namely SLITTING THE ANIMAL'S THROAT.

This method of ritual slaughter minimizes the pain felt by the animal and facilitates maximal drainage of its blood, in keeping with verses 16 and 23-25. It is known as shekhitah in the halakhah, which spells out its details on the basis of oral tradition (Sifrei 75; Chullin 28a)." (The JPS Torah Commentary, Deuteronomy, Commentary by Jeffrey H. Tigay, pg. 125.)

From the texts, then, it seems that the reason for the halakhah of certain methods of slaughter that conform to the oral tradition is that humans should be conscious that when killing an animal for food, they are taking a life, and one should not take a life arbitrarily! We should follow the Indigenous model of our ancestors and of the early Native American Indians in establishing our relationship to the animals we utilize for food.

This relationship requires that the one who would eat meat would need to spiritually connect themselves with the Spirit of the animal that they were about to kill to eat.

Perhaps, we should even create special mindfulness prayers for when we eat meat. One should never eat meat without the recognition that the life of the animal was given up for food. The Native American Indians taught that the animals gave themselves to humans so that humans could survive. Thus it was seen as disrespectful for humans to kill for sport or for frivolousness.

The halakhah was designed to cause the Jewish people to not take life, even the life of an animal for granted. And even then, every part of the animal was to be put to a use and not simply discarded. Feathers for pillows and mattresses. Bones ground up and mixed with the blood and used for fertilizer to renew life through nurturing the harvest. Hides for Torah scrolls, tefillin, furniture, belts, shoes, boots, etc. Ram's horns for shofarim, and so on.

Ecokosher, when referring to animal slaughter, adheres to all of the halakhic kosher laws, in manner of slaughter and inspection, plus it adds that the animal must be treated humanely prior to slaughter, and during slaughter, as well.

Further, the nonsense that has taken place in feeding herbavores like cattle, meat-and-bone meal additives unknowingly contaminated with bovine spongiform bacteria, leading to Mad-Cow Disease for purposes of adding protein to the cattle's diet at increased profit to the cattle grower is ECO-TREIF!!!

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