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Image of the Non-Jew in JudaismA Historical and Constructive Study of the Noahide Laws$
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David Novak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764074

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764074.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

The Law of the Torn Limb

The Law of the Torn Limb

Chapter:
(p.135) Chapter Eight The Law of the Torn Limb
Source:
Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism
Author(s):

David Novak

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781906764074.003.0009

This chapter assesses the prohibition against tearing a limb from a living animal, which is explicit in Scripture, and the only one of the seven Noahide laws to be found immediately in the Torah. According to the rabbis, tearing a limb from a living animal was part of ancient pagan religious ritual, and thus was a species of idolatry. Clearly, such a practice was to be avoided by Israelites. At first view, this law appears limited in scope, but the chapter argues that it has implications for Jewish–gentile relations extending beyond the immediate purpose of the law. The chapter then demonstrates how Noahide law has directed some innovations within rabbinic law, namely, in reducing double standards in laws that pertain to both Jews and non-Jews. The law of the torn limb also introduces the question of nature in Jewish thought.

Keywords:   law of the torn limb, Noahide laws, Torah, ancient pagan religious ritual, Jewish–gentile relations, rabbinic law, Jews, non-Jews, nature, Jewish thought

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