Concerning Food in Noahide Law

From Wikinoah English
Jump to: navigation, search

Rabbi Yoel Schwartz (Jerusalem Court for Bnei Noah)


The people of the nations are not limited in the food they are allowed to eat, except the eating of living flesh or the flesh and blood of a human being. There are also those authorities who are of the opinion that a Noahide should not eat the flesh of a dead animal unless killed for the specific purpose of eating its flesh.

These are the main points to the Jewish law (Halachah): This ritual law requires that the animal be slaughtered by severing the trachea and carotid artery in one stroke. This causes the least possible suffering to the animal. The animal must be totally dead with all muscular and nerve flexing abated before one would be permitted to eat it. The lungs must be checked to determine that the animal was not afflicted with certain illnesses that would cause fatality according to the guidelines of the Jewish law. Animals for eating

The people of other nations are allowed to eat all kinds of animals. Though there is a difference even for non-Jews between kosher and not kosher species, this is mainly regarding the sacrificial ritual and not for eating purposes.

[Why is it permitted for Noahides to eat any kind of animal whereas all animals were prohibited to Adam? It is written (Bereshit 9:3), “Every living thing that moves upon the earth shall be (as) food for you.” Every living thing that moves includes cattle, beasts, birds, and even the fish of the sea. All of these are called “living things that move” (Ramban). Meat, which was prohibited to Adam, was permitted to Noah because (a) it was because of him and for his needs that G-d spared the animals; were it not for man they would not have been spared (cf. 6:7); (b) he toiled over them and attended to their needs in the ark. Of him it is said (Psalms 128:2): “You shall eat from the toil of your hands.” He had thus acquired rights over them (Or HaChayim). “They were saved in an ark which you toiled to build; i.e. their salvation came through you; they are therefore yours to do with as you please like the green herbs of the field” (Bechor Shor; Chizkuni). “As the green herbage I have given you everything.” Though I permitted only herbage, but not flesh, to Adam, I give you the same right to everything that he had for herbage” (Rashi). R’ Bachya and Chizkuni comment that the comparison to green herbage is noteworthy: Lest one think that everything was permitted, G-d qualified His permission by comparing it to herbage. Just as some herbs are beneficial to man while others are unfit for food and even poisonous, so among the animals and birds there are those that are permitted by the Torah and those that are prohibited (see comm. of Chavel to his ed. of R’ Bachya). This explains why, in spite of the general permission which was granted to Noah to consume meat, it is important that the Noahide not eat meat taken from a living animal, and the Jew eat only certain species slaughtered according to the Jewish law. Malbim explains that it is logical and desirable for a lower form of life to be eaten and absorbed into a higher form. Therefore, animals eat plant life, thus elevating it, and humans eat animals, elevating them to become part of intelligent man. (O that man would be intelligent!)]

Flesh from the living It is prohibited to eat meat that has been cut or torn off from a living creature, even from a dead animal, if the flesh was cut off when the animal was still alive or when it was on the verge of dying and not slaughtered according to Jewish law. If it was slaughtered by cutting it’s neck and not slaughtered by a Jew according to Jewish law, many of its’ parts are considered to have been cut from a living animal and are therefore forbidden. This refers to all parts that are attached to the trachea and the esophagus and includes the lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines.

There are various methods used for killing the animals that are intended for human consumption. Some of them present no problem but others would call into question the permissibility of eating the above-mentioned organs. One should therefore either not eat those organs, verify that the method which was used to kill the animal was not by cutting its neck or, (and this is the most practical suggestion) only purchase the meat of such organs if it has been slaughtered by a Jew according to Jewish law-i.e. that is certified as kosher.

Nearly all the meat for human consumption today comes from animals that have been killed for eating. However some slaughterhouses detach parts of the body before the animal has stopped flexing its limbs. If a Noahide is not sure about the source of the meat, it is advised that he buy the meat from a person whom he can trust such as a fellow Noahide. In order to remove all doubt, it is possible to buy kosher meat with a kosher label from a recognized Rabbinical organization. These rules of flesh from the living hold only toward animals and birds that have warm blood. It does not hold toward reptiles, creeping creatures and fish Flesh from the living is mixed with other meat It is prohibited to eat meat that has been mixed with flesh from the living, whether it was done on purpose or not, even if cooked, broiled or added to a soup or any other type of drink.[1]


  1. Noahide Commandments by Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, Translated by Yitzhak A. Oked Sechter, Reviewed and corrected by Yechiel Sitzman in consultation with Rabbi Yoel Schwartz