Daniel Sperber’s 2024 latest book, published by Urim Publications, “Vegetarianism, Ecology, and Business Ethics,” is superb. Everyone should read it. The book has three essays focusing on Judaic insights into contemporary concerns. I have been a fan of his writings for years. I read all of his books. I was never disappointed. I learned much from each book. Although scholarly, with many footnotes to support what he writes for readers who want additional information, his books, including this one, are easy to read. The books are filled with eye-opening information, offering readers much they did not know and much to think about.
Many readers will be surprised by the 82 pages of facts that Dr. Sperber reveals from both Jewish and non-Jewish sources about vegetarianism, how animals are treated, often in unhealthy ways for the animals and those who eat them, and how animals suffer. For example, the following small samples are from the many Dr. Sperber discusses with detailed proofs.
We read that virtually all chickens are artificially hatched from eggs in electrically heated incubators. Because of this treatment, they rarely live an entire year. Therefore, some rabbis ruled that chickens, these short-lived creatures, are like dead bodies and are not kosher. In any event, eating chicken is morally problematic.
After birth, chickens are crammed together as many as 40,000 in a single building. They cannot move. They are overfed to make them fat. Their manure is routinely recycled into their feed. They become ill before they are slaughtered. Their mistreatment is horrifying, and eating them is dangerous to health.
Cows, like chickens, are similarly treated. They are raised in stalls, preventing them from even taking several steps. They are also overfed to make them fat and a substance to increase their white meat. These feedings make them sick. They are killed in a manner that causes them pain. They know when they are being taken to be slaughtered, and they cry and struggle to escape. They are killed in a manner that causes them pain.
There is not sufficient supervision to ensure that butchers even follow basic Jewish slaughtering requirements.
Dr. Sperber gives scientific proof that consuming animal flesh, euphuistically called “meat,” impacts one’s health.
Fish feel 15 minutes of excruciating pain before they lose consciousness. They cry in pain.
The Torah does not require Jews to eat meat. Many scholars are convinced that the Torah encourages people to live vegetarian. It only allowed the consumption of animal “meat,” as it allowed sacrifices, because of human frailty.
Although I read much in other sources about ecology, I found Dr. Sperber’s 99-page discussion much more informative. It caused me to think how absurdly politicians followed the reporting by the press and explained ecology issues poorly and confusedly, so it was impossible to form a solution. People, especially politicians and those paid to find solutions, must read this book and learn from his fact-filled, eye-opening discussion.
In his 66 ethics pages, he discusses business ethics and the generally neglected ethics of social ethical investments. The latter needs attention “because irresponsible investments, such as investing in harmful products, for example, those that contaminate our planet…or impoverish sectors of the population, and even impair their health, is to be firmly and vociferously opposed.” As with his discussion about vegetarianism and ecology, he cites biblical views and many fascinating and informative statements and stories by and about respected ancient rabbis.