The Corona virus has been difficult, but in Australia it has not been nearly as bad as elsewhere. Added to this, I have tended to place the cause of pandemics into the environment in which they take place. What are we doing to this beautiful planet? I am trying to glean some insight of this problem from the daily readings of the Talmud. “Yes”, I am an environmentalist, sad and angry at the treatment of G-d’s magnificent world. Let me pose a proposition gleaned from an image in the Talmud of the cow pierced by a needle.
The world is made of of living organisms from the largest to the smallest. When we cut down the trees in the forest we can see the harm, the animals lose their habitat, their food supply is diminished, they get killed on the roads while searching out a new home. When we poison the rivers we see the dead fish by they wayside. They look back at us with open mouths, wide eyes and watery gills. When we look at a polluted pond, what do we see? Foam and poisons line the perimeters, perhaps a green algae floats on the top of the water, but we do not see what is underneath, the tiny microbes that make up a healthy ecosystem.
Water acts as a sink for a number micro organisms that are harmful to humans. When the pond dries up or the environment changes many of these organisms escape. They get into the air or into our food. Sometimes they get carried on the backs of animals or birds. However they are transported these are the organisms that make people sick. What do we do in response to this dilemma? We search for a medicine, a vaccine, but when do we clean up the pond or the environment….NEVER.
I saw the cow and the needle piercing its stomach in my sleep. I live adjacent to a diary farm, one of the cruelest industries on the planet. At birth the calves are ripped from the mothers. Their cries can be heard some distance away. the females are kept the males are killed. Their tails are cut off, because they get in the way of milking and the animal is left without a weapon against flies and insects, of which there are many in Australia. The animal is milked until every last drop is squeezed from the udder, leaving it red and often bloodied and congealed.
The needle in the cow reminded me of factory farming, not just of cows but all creatures whose role it is to satisfy the appetite of we humans. As we try to decipher the rules of what is pure and impure in the Talmud, might there not be room for considering the plight of the unvoiced creatures whose lives never extend beyond servitude.
We are taught that slaughter must be carried out humanely, but why slaughter at all, when clearly the cow as food makes no economic sense in a world where so many people go hungry for the sake of a hamburger and a life of rank gluttony and obesity in the west.