By Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski
In this week’s Sedra the Torah commands us as to various particulars regarding not eating the blood of animals – that although a Kosher animal can be eaten after it is Shechted, it must be Kashered in order to remove the blood. The Torah also conveys different specific commandments regarding the various bloods and how to take care of them. After the Torah has commanded us about them the Torah tells us that we should be careful with these specifics so that Hashem should shower us with good when we do what is right in the eyes of Hashem.
As the Torah stipulates the reward for being diligent with disposing of and not eating the various bloods, it simultaneously injects a more general clause pertinent to all the Mitzvos in the Torah. Is the Torah telling us that Hashem’s bestowing us with good things is a reward for the Mitzvos pertaining to blood, or is the Torah merely telling us that in this just as with all the other Mitzvos whenever we do what is right in Hashem’s eyes we merit that He bestow good upon us?
Rashi explains the idea the Torah is trying to convey in this passage as follows: if, for the fulfillment of an easy Mitzvah not requiring any significant self-denial (after all, it is not as though anyone particularly wants to drink blood), Hashem promises to bestow good upon us in return, logic would then dictate even greater Divine reward for a Mitzva entailing the exercise of real self-restraint. Thus the Torah is merely underlining that the reason why we get such a schar (reward) for this Mitzva is essentially because we are adhering to Retzon Hashem.
In my Kashrus work I have been asked by many people about these commandments regarding Dam. They assert that while salting removes a percentage of blood from the meat there is still some blood that remains. They insist that there is no biological difference between the blood the salt removes and the blood that remains. “Why”, they ask, “can we eat the meat if there is still blood in it?”
The word in Hebrew for “right” used in our context is Yashar; the Aramaic word for Yashar is Kasher (see Targum Unklus and Yonossan who both use Kasher to translate Yashar here). Evidently the Torah is telling us that if we do what is Kosher (‘right’) in Hashem’s eyes we will then merit that Hashem bestow good upon us. While there are more ‘scientific’ explanations, the real answer is as follows: what is and what is not blood is defined not by modern biology, but by Hashem’s own guidelines as given over and interpreted by Chazal.
Recently, there have been a number of ‘Rabbis’ from parts of the religious-political spectrum with aspirations to redefine Halacha based on biological evidence. Such attempts undermine the whole system of Halacha, put into question and jeopardize almost all religious practices. We must always remember that Torah is eternally contemporary. Chazal and our Mesorah don’t budge. And in the zechus of believing and following strictly Hashem’s words given over and interpreted by Chazal may we be Zoche to see Hashem bestow upon us only good.
Rabbi Krakowski serves as director of Kashrus for OU Kashrus in Israel. Rabbi Krakowski served as Rov of Kehilas Torah Vechessed in Yerushalayim, and holds a position of Moreh Tzedek in Shaarei Chesed.