Parshat שמיני Leviticus 11:4 – Limitations of the word “but”

Leviticus 11:4 – But these you shall not eat among those that bring up the cud and those that have a cloven hoof: the camel, because it brings up its cud, but does not have a [completely] cloven hoof; it is unclean for you.

Torat Cohanim: [Why does it use the limiting word “but”?] I might think that the meat of those who walk on two feet is forbidden, the [limiting word]“but” is used to teach otherwise [that it is permitted]

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #9:

The phrase “those who walk on two feet” refers to humans. It is not clear why it didn’t explicitly say that the “meat of humans” [is permitted]. Rather it chose a flowery phrase of “the meat of those who walk on two feet”. Maybe it is because with this phraseology it is coming also to include flesh of wild savages who lived in previous generations in countries far away, whose human [dignity] had so diminished from them that Yechezkel says (23, 20) “And she lusted for their concubinage, those whose flesh is the flesh of donkeys, and whose issue is the issue of horses.” Look also in Gemora Berachos 25b.

Also look at what the Rambam says in Chapter 2:3 of Forbidden Foods, where he writes that even though there is no prohibition against eating human flesh nevertheless eating people would be a transgression of a positive commandment [since the Torah describes what we are allowed to eat, as we see when the Torah describes the seven types of animals that we are allowed to eat. Then it adds the phrase “of these you should eat”. This shows that eating people is, according to the Rambam in the category of a transgression of a positive commandment since people are not including in the list of animals that one may eat. Thus such a transgression is a positive commandment transgression.

Note that the Ramban and the Rashba disagree with the Rambam. Their opinion is that there is no prohibition at all regarding eating people. Their view is that the Torat Cohanim quoted above is a “general hook” [asmakhta b’alma] rather than an actual source for this prohibition. Also, please look at what I [the Torah Temimah] write in footnote 18 of this chapter regarding a convincing proof that the Rambam is actually correct.

[Lastly] it is obvious that there is a universal ruling that there is a prohibition of deriving any benefit at all from the body of a dead person [so you couldn’t eat it!]. This law is learned from a textual parallelism from the laws of the decapitated calf (Deuteronomy 21:1-9. Also, look in the Gemora Sanhedrin 47b.

Editor’s note: The Torah Temimah emphasizes the importance of using the rules of Talmudic logic in a consistent fashion. He is not advocating eating people nor is his saying that any rabbi advocated such a thing. Rather, the Torah Temimah is explaining the legal reasoning behind the prohibition and various rabbis’ opinions. The Torah Temimah’s point of view derives directly from the Torat Cohanim.

[The Torat Cohanim is a midrash written down around the time of the Mishnah.]

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