I cringe whenever I recall the many instances my adolescent pranks and puerile pronouncements cast my parents down to the depths of hopeless gloom. They had little excuse for optimism about the prospects of their first-born. But seldom did the white heat of their anger flame more menacingly than when I dismissed myself as an animal. Admittedly, I had learned to light their fuses so I knew just what to say when Mom reacted to my disgustingly slurping soup out of the bowl by spitting these words at me, “Stop eating your soup like an animal!” What I said was, “But since I am an animal, it’s okay if I eat this way, right?” In order not to posthumously ensnare my saintly mother with the government’s Child Protective Services, I’ll leave you in the dark as to what she then did to me.
Not to leave my long-suffering father out of this stroll down memory lane, I recall his reaction to our picnic in the park being marred by a nearby amorous couple’s inappropriately public displays of affection. “That’s how animals behave,” he exclaimed. That was a poorly chosen moment for me to disagree with him. I mildly explained that I thought it was rather charmingly natural that they were indulging their animal instincts. I think it was the word ‘charming’ that sealed my fate. Or perhaps it was the approving way in which I uttered the word “natural”. Either way, the father-son bond became taut and suspenseful for a day or two.
It wasn’t until about eight years had elapsed that I began to understand why nothing goaded my parents to more indignant exasperation than my blurring the distinctions between human and animal. I finally caught on that thinking of myself as an animal obliterated the entire world of Western morality. After all, the wolf that dined on the rancher’s sheep isn’t being evil. He’s doing what wolves do. Similarly, if I was nothing but a healthy young animal with the natural appetites of healthy young animals, nothing that I did was evil. I finally caught on that this approach would never help me become a healthy young animal. What it would undoubtedly do though was contribute to me becoming a sick old human.
Regrettably it took another eight years before I slowly grasped how insidiously seductive was the idea that people and animals are all basically the same. All the putrefied pathologies of progressivism stem from socialism’s basic belief that people are indeed nothing but slightly more sophisticated animals than cows. Like cows, they do best with a farmer running their lives.
Shockingly, it took me yet another eight years to grasp that God created a world in which animals themselves play an unwitting role in the seduction of society. Homosexuality? It’s perfectly natural; rats do it, no problem. Infidelity? Since the 1960s and increasing in every decade since, countless books and academic studies have appeared arguing that faithfulness to one’s mate is unnatural and rarely found in animals. Stealing? Arctic foxes and seagulls do it so calling it immoral is just silly.
This is one of the main reasons crime began climbing in the early 60s and has never since returned to pre-1962 levels. If we are no more than wolves walking on two legs, we can never be held morally responsible for our bad behavior. There is always an external reason to explain why a wolf devoured the farmer’s sheep—the fence failed, the dogs didn’t do their job or the sheep were out of their paddock. Similarly, there is always an external reason for human criminality—poverty, racism, or economic inequality.
There is no human aberrance for which an animal model cannot be found. And if animals do it, and we are also animals, why shouldn’t we do it too? Coming to believe that we humans are really just another part of the animal world and are not uniquely touched by the finger of God is to slam the door firmly on morality and the existence of objective right and wrong.
As societies decay, we usually see them moving from a commendable concern about cruelty to animals towards a form of extremism. For instance, disallowing the use of animal tests in developing life-saving drugs for humans. We also find increasing hostility towards animal acts in circuses or even the idea of zoos. Initially, the talk is of making sure the animals are well cared for and have enough room to roam. Once those changes take place, however, the pressure continues for the complete abolition of circuses, zoos and aquariums. All these examples and more, are inevitable results of five decades of indoctrination into the ‘people equal animals equal people’ equation. (I wouldn’t like living in an enclosure being observed by tourists so how can I inflict this on chimpanzees or orcas? )
It goes without saying that Judeo-Christian culture and Bible-based religion was the first moral system in history to denounce cruelty to animals. What the Romans did to animals in the Colosseum and in other venues of public entertainment two thousand years ago was unthinkable in Jerusalem. But compassion towards animals is not the same as viewing any human use of animals as unethical.
In order to stress the distinction between animals and humans and to emphasize how we are not to see ourselves as animals, we are told, not once, but seven times throughout the Five Books of Moses, not to eat the blood of animals. We may eat certain animals but never their blood because, “…the spiritual essence of all flesh is in the blood.” (Leviticus 17:11). “…for the blood is the spiritual essence.” (Deuteronomy 12:23)
Many primitive cultures believed that drinking the blood of certain animals or even of one’s enemies granted one the powers of the former owner of that blood. Humans were not to desire the power of animals. What God granted us, the unique power of people, was far superior to the power of animals.
Consuming the blood of animals reflects a desire to absorb their ‘animalism’ into one’s being. But Scripture sees in eating blood, something even more nefarious.
…I will set My face against the person who consumes the blood…
These ominous words suggesting that God will focus, as it were, upon those who eat the blood is seen in only one other instance throughout the Five Books of Moses.
I Myself will set My face against that man and his kin, and will cut off from among their people both him and all who follow him in going astray after Molech [the idol].
Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that when a distinctive phrase is used in only a few instances, those instances are all closely linked. This tells us that consuming an animal’s blood is associated with the sin of idolatry. In both cases we humans, granted by God with spiritual and intellectual independence have handed over our free will to a malevolent outside agency. In idolatry, instead of following God’s compact with us, we make ourselves subservient to an idol and by the act of consuming blood we make our souls susceptible to the message from the animals. If you feel like it, do it. Everything is mere instinct.
It takes time for damaging behavior to spread through enough of any human society to cause destruction. Once a majority of a population becomes seduced by the idea that we and animals are all part of one world, destruction of society becomes inevitable. Let us pray that we find our way back to Timeless Truth before this happens.
* * * *
One major area of life where thinking of humans as animals has done the most harm is the area of sexuality. For a very non-animal way for males and females to behave, get yourself a copy of Gila Manolson’s book, Hands Off! This May Be Love.
Give it to someone you know who is in high school or college, or bless someone in your church with this book. Be a part of turning the tide back to a Godly view of humanity.
Hands Off! This May Be Love
25 thoughts on “Bloody Beastly Behavior”
I believe it is the book of proverbs that states “The spirit of a beast returns to the earth, the spirit of a man returns to The Lord” This clearly defines the difference between the two & answers the question if animals go to heaven, they do not. Heaven is reserved for God, angels & man.
Are you able to think of an example of when an animal cherished the work of God’s hands or was thankful for any of the countless good thoughts that He has for us, or of an animal reminiscing with another of the joyful times shared in the past with praise to God or even of one being impatient but also completely obedient?
Nope, Mark, not once.
There is no animal who has the compassion and intellect that you have. There never will be.
I leave this comment as a praise to our God. The capitalized wording is my personal input stressing God’s instruction. I thank God for you and Susan often, and always.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place — what are mere mortals, that you concern yourself with them; humans, that you watch over them with such care? You made him but little lower than the angels, you crowned him with glory and honor, you had him rule what your hands made, you put EVERYTHING under his feet —
When I first read this my mind started jumping around wondering what these ideas mean in relation to communion and any other time when a red drink is used to symbolise blood. Then I was thankful that you were careful to say consume as in eat or drink and to make it plain that you are talking about the blood of animals. In other words, you made it obvious that you were not talking about medical interventions where blood from one human is given to another. There is too much scrambled thinking on that topic.
After 14 years in the Navy, I went to college. One of the many required general classes was PSYCH 10, Introduction to psychology. I recall the first day. As I was walking down the aisle to find a seat, I saw this on the blaclboard, written very large letters: “Psychology is the study of animal behavior, including human”
My reaction? “Uh, oh. I’m in trouble, now!”
I thought this, because I had earned a reputation for arguing with professors and instructors, when my Navy experiences clashed with their teaching and commentary. I soon discovered that all I had to do to get a good grade was to parrot them on paper.
I’ve been to college twice, in my ’30s and ’40s, and I’ve learned nothing there, aside from some skill sets (electronics and accounting). College is supposed to teach critical thinking. Most of them don’t. They teach successful parroting.
Is this also the reason for the prohibition on tattooing one’s body?
One is struck by your frankness, humility and humanity as you describe own behavior as a child, dear Rabbi. Weren’t we all the same? I was. Only some of us admit it, yet others do not. Your description of maternal retribution sends chills down my spine, for I had a mother very like yours, yet she had a mother still more formidable, as was then customary.
As to the ingestion of blood proscribed in the Torah, the image of dining on blood resonates with revenge and in some cases seems linked to revenge. The Germans have a proverb: ‘Rache ist Blutwurst’ (‘Vengeance is blood pudding’), which compares to a similar English proverb to the effect that ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’ Note the emergence of the animal nature. But Epictetus wrote better: ‘Forgiveness is better than revenge; for forgiveness is the sign of a gentle nature, but revenge the sign of a savage nature.’
In Genesis, the creation of the air, land, and water creatures is simply told: God created them. No details. But when we come to the creation of Man, we get an entirely different account. We’re given details. God took special care and time in forming man and woman. He breathed His own breath of life into humans. There is a definite distinction between people and animals. We don’t find animals naming themselves or each other. That privilege was given to man. And there’s an important detail in this narrative, as well: when Adam named the animals – all kinds of animals – there was no appropriate or equal or even similar creature that could be a mate to him. A helper suitable for him. No bird, animal, bug, or fish could possibly take the place of another human in the life of the man. God formed man and woman for each other. They were charged with the care and dominion of all animals and plants. People, animals, and plants are distinct from each other. We’ve all but erased the distinctions between humans and animals, men and women, even God’s people and those who deny Him. When we confuse cruelty to animals with the responsible care and use of them that God granted to us, we only hurt all of us.
Kanye West said recently that he and Trump both have “dragon energy” and “tiger blood”….
A Rabbi I once knew said simply that if people ingest the blood of animals they are ingesting the soul of that animal. He then asked, “Is it any wonder then that people act like animals.”
Touche😄Couples I know in child bearing age are substituting dogs for children. I personally think this topic is epidemic in society, and love that you addressing it…quite humorously too…love you and Susan
I was a teenager in the 1960’s and bought into what was being sold at the time.
I have my own cringe-worthy memories of my actions from those years. I suppose that my cringes are actual shudders from having acted more like an animal than a person created in God’s image. My Creator was actually trying to protect me by giving me rules to live by.
Very enlightening. The Jewish elders of the New Testament instructed Gentile Christians to abstain from drinking blood (yuk) but they also instructed to keep the ceremony symbolically recreating the drinking of Christ’s blood (using wine). This article talking about the ancient belief of taking on of characteristics of an animal or person by drinking their blood sheds new light on this sacrament.
So does this means when one consumes a nice juicy steak not well done, one is breaking the law of not eating blood in Leviticus? Also, at the time God gave mankind dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:29), does that mean in Gan Eden, Adam was stronger than the strongest of animals and faster than the fastest of animals? Thank you!
Regarding the Steak Portion of your question –
I’m not an expert by any means, however as a connoisseur of juicy steak – the juice on the plate is not blood, it is Myowater – water with the myoglobin protein – blood would be dark red (almost black) and would be very thick and would clot.
Hoping this helps 🙂
Also, if one consumes kosher meat, it has been drained of blood prior to being cut up, packaged and sold. This is one of the things that differentiates kosher from treif (non-kosher).
Valuable wisdom, as always. Thank you. You say, “Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that when a distinctive phrase is used in only a few instances, those instances are all closely linked.” I’ve wondered about “unto one place” (אֶל־מָקוֹם אֶחָד) in Gen 1:9 and in Ecc 3:20 & 6:6. Oddly the water in one place is named in the plural (יַמִּים). Then in Exodus 14:16 Moses was told, “…and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and split it” (נְטֵה אֶת־יָדְךָ עַל־הַיָּם וּבְקָעֵהוּ), and in verse 21 it says, “the waters were split” (וַיִּבָּקְעוּ הַמָּיִם). I think there is a story here, but don’t know exactly what.
One day my preschool-age niece was talking with her barely-deistic dad, and he told her that people were just another kind of animal. She was flabergasted and argued with her dad: “They are NOT!” He just chuckled and kept insisting that they were. Finally she grew weary of the argument and concluded, “When grammy and papa get home, I’m going to tell them what you said, and they’re going to laugh at you.” He told me the story later because he thought her parting shot was so funny, and I just thought, well, she’s right!
Did you see that an Austrian man tried to board a train with a horse?
Will the EU’s Human Rights Commission sue over this dastardly discrimination against a ‘fellow animal?’ If not can they present a secular argument for not bringing suit? –seriously!
Great point, Don!
We were specifically asked to dominate the earth (including the animals) and subdue it. If we fall to the level of the animals then the earth is better off without us; we have failed completely!
I believe that humans are animals, just a different sort. Hummingbirds may even be better than us! If one wishes to say that humans are not animals, it just is a matter of sets and it doesn’t mean we aren’t similar in ways. 🙂 All the best Rabbi Lapin!
Hummingbirds do not get together to agonize about what their Creator wants of them. They also do not study humans.
We are not just quantitatively different from hummingbirds, but far more importantly we are qualitatively different.
Rabbi Lapin, Your post to topic is sharp.
When I was child, I was nicknamed Mutt, because I followed my mom around like puppy. That is good analogy right?
Yet, The disgusting methods of meanness of towards creatures and evolutionary dehumanizing by classing some homo sapiens as sub-humans for debased purpose wore off the childlike gladness.
Seen too , some who drank blood to get the beastly vigor.
Sounds strange. Would have that it wasn’t so.
Stunning how the goodly text often decide to be too old gives better answers isn’t it?
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