This week’s parsha (weekly Torah portion) is Acharei Mot, Leviticus 16-18. In it, we find rules pertaining to killing and eating animals. The main one that I want to focus on is that you must drain the blood from the meat, for the soul (nefesh in Hebrew) is in the blood.
I read the parsha and didn’t think twice about it. Like, cool. Respect the life of an animal, don’t eat the blood. Gotcha. I’m not against hunting animals or killing pests or whatever the case may be, so I’m good.
But, as our family reads through the Torah with the rest of the Jewish community around the world, we also watch videos from the not Messianic Rabbi David Fohrman’s ministry Aleph Beta. Despite not having the rest of the story, Rabbi Fohrman has some incredible insights into the Old Testament, especially the Torah, the first five books.
This parsha’s newest video is called, “Are We Supposed to Eat Animals?” and started out sounding kinda PETA-y. “Oh, this verse makes it sound like it’s murder to kill an animal, even though God already gave us permission, so we should seriously consider vegetarianism.” So I was skeptical. #bereanwholikesagoodburger
But then I remembered Pandora. No, not the Greek myth, but the planet from the movie Avatar. I recently rewatched Avatar, so it’s been kinda rattling around in my head. It’s very obviously not a Christian movie, and it’s actually very animistic and new age-y. “God is in everything. Our spirits join the universe when we die.” whatever. HOWEVER…
In the movie, the main character, a US Marine in his Pandorian “avatar”, is about to get eaten by a pack of alien creatures. Suddenly, someone attacks Them, saving his life. The female native who saved him is very upset that she had to kill even these seemingly evil creatures to save him. She “prays” over the carcasses, releasing their spirits and apologizing for taking them. The American, as a trained Marine, is scornful of this ritual. But it was very very important to her. Why? Because all life was sacred to their culture.
And this is the point that the video gets to. God created all life as sacred. He has given animals to us for food, but we need to be considerate of the soul inside them as well. There’s a progression that He has given us as a commentary on what it means to kill.
v.3 All animals, every living thing, I am now giving you as food. Just like I gave you plants, now I’m giving you everything.
v. 4 But flesh, with its soul (nefesh), its blood, you shall not eat.
v. 5-6 But your blood, of your souls, I will demand [an account]…whoever sheds the blood of man, through man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man.
Plants don’t have nefesh, a soul.
Animals have nefesh.
People have nefesh, but are also made in the image of God.
Any nefesh is to be protected and cared for. When we kill an animal, we have ended the life of another being. We are to be respectful of that, not flippant. God calls us to cover up the blood, almost as a sign that He’s not holding the death of another creature against us.
And that’s where the video ends. But we have the blood of our Savior covering us, so we have even more insight into this idea. Instead of us covering up the blood of our necessary evils, Our everyday sin is covered By The Blood. And That’s the greatest news. That’s the fulfillment of the love for all that Genesis 9 first implements. God cares for all His creatures, but He created us just a little lower than the angels. He cares so much that He didn’t even spare His son’s life.
And do you realize what that means? If the soul is in the blood, then the nefesh of the Son of God covers US. I can’t even begin to fathom it. Now That’s good news.
That’s the gospel.