Rabbi Abraham Kook, Chief Rabbi of Israel, Envisioned a Vegan Society
“Milk was destined to feed the animal’s offspring and not that man should take it with force for himself. The kid has the right to enjoy its mother’s milk and its mother’s love, but hard-hearted man, influenced by his materialistic and shallow outlook, changes and perverts these true functions. Thus the gentle kid is unable to partake of its mother’s love and rejoice in the splendor of life.”
Rabbi Abraham Kook was the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel under the mandate. He was a respected poet and prolific writer, beloved spiritual leader, mystic thinker, master of the Hebrew language, and a renowned Torah scholar. He was also one of the most celebrated, revered and influential rabbis of the 20th century.
Rabbi Kook was born in Latvia in 1865. He envisioned a new society where humankind would become vegan and cease the killing of animals for food. He personally refrained from eating any meat except on the Sabbath and at Jewish Festivals. Rabbi Kook’s disciple, Rabbi David Gohen, collected Kook’s poetry and essay material and titled it, “A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace.” It was originally presented at a conference of religious vegetarians and was published in 1961 in a volume of essays in memory of Rabbi Kook’s grandson, who drowned in 1959 at the age of twenty.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter One, “The Just Treatment of Animals:”
“There is a fundamental part of a lofty, humane, and progressive sensibility that, according to the present state of the prevailing culture, exists today only in the pleasant dream of a few extremely idealistic souls: an innate ethical striving, a feeling for what is humane and just, to consider the rights of animals, with all that this entails.
Certain cruel philosophies, especially those that denied belief in God, according to their views on human ethics based upon reason, have advocated that man completely stifle within himself any sense of justice for animals. However, they have not succeeded, nor shall they succeed, with all their self-serving cleverness, in perverting the innate sense of justice that the Creator planted within the human soul. Although sympathy for animals is like the glow of a smoldering ember buried under a great heap of ashes, nevertheless, it is impossible for them to negate this sensitivity within every feeling heart. For as a rule, the lack of morality among all humanity consists in failing to heed the good and noble instinct not to take any form of life, whether for one’s needs or physical gratification.”
More on the Vegetarian Teachings of Rabbi Kook, by Richards Schwartz, Ph.D.
More about Jewish Dietary Laws by Richard Schwartz
More about the life of Rabbi Kook
Quote by Rabbi Abraham Kook, Chief Rabbi of Israel
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