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Man and Beast: Our Relationships with Animals in Jewish Law and Thought Hardcover – April 11, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Rabbi Natan Slifkin's new book, Man and Beast, offers a comprehensive view of Judaism's attitude and concern towards the animal world. It is skillfully researched and it is a thoroughly enjoyable read on a subject that otherwise could be considered arcane. There is great information and wonderful insights provided into the worldview of Judaism and its relationship to the other creatures that inhabit God's world with us humans. --Rabbi Berel Wein

Man and Beast is a fascinating and important work. It presents an aspect of Judaism that many of us do not even realize exists - its comprehensive principles and laws regarding our interactions with the natural world, in this case, specifically the animal world. Rabbi Natan Slifkin, the world-renowned "Zoo Rabbi," has accomplished amazing things in his seminal works on these topics. This new book of his will doubtless be treasured by educators and anyone seeking to enhance their understanding of the Torah's view of man's interaction with his fellow-inhabitor of this planet, the animal kingdom. --Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz

About the Author

Rabbi Natan Slifkin is widely renowned for his pioneering work in researching, teaching and writing about the relationship between Judaism and the natural world. A native of England, Rabbi Slifkin now lives in Israel and is a popular lecturer worldwide.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Yashar Books (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933143061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933143064
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jonah M. Halper on August 14, 2006
As a proud owner of a pure-bred German Shepherd, it was very meaningful to read a well-written book on the Torah's attitude towards man and his relationship with animals.

I particularly enjoyed the Torah-based views on pet ownership and the Torah laws relevant to pet ownership especially in light of Shabbos observance. If you treat your dog or cat like a child, be ready for some contrary views derived from traditional Jewish thought.

Natan Slifkin has the credibility to write on the human and technical aspects of Judaism and animal companionship. I recommend this book very much. You will find it educational and entertaining.
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The fact that some reviewers have called this subject "arcane" or little-known in Judaism only serves to emphasize the need for this excellent book. While most modern Jews may not have much contact with animals, the same was not true of our ancestors, who dealt with animals every day. So there is quite a large body of material -- both in the Tanach (Bible) and various classical commentaries -- about our relationship to animals in Jewish law. And although this is a complex topic, this is not a difficult book. Rabbi Slifkin presents his material in a logical, easy-to-follow format that is very accessible to the layperson. His practical experience with biology and animals in general (he is popularly known as the "zoo rabbi"), adds an additional positive dimension to the writing.

But first, one word of caution to animal rights actvists who might buy this as a resource: Jewish law has a specific reasoning process and structure to it, in which all possible perspectives are presented, and the conclusion (or sometimes lack thereof) is drawn from this spirited discussion. This is done in a manner focused on logic, not emotion. (If you are a Trekkie, think Vulcan.) So you are likely to come across some opinions that you do not agree with, or which might even be offensive on first sight. If you slam the book shut at that point, you will miss the conclusion, which may be more to your liking than some of the harsher opinions earlier in the chapter. So, the best way to read this book is to follow each chapter to its conclusion, rather than quit in the middle. (I am reminded of a true story I once heard about a woman who went to an AA meeting, started reading the first step, got as far as "We admitted we were powerless..." and stormed out.
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This book really opened up my eyes to the Torah approach regarding the many aspects of coexistence for man and animal. It is chock full of Biblical, and Talmudic sources. It was written with both the novice and advanced scholar in mind. I recommend this book to each and every person that owns a pet and has ever wondered about the pet's deeper spiritual qualities.
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We recently purchased a pet, and I wanted to understand questions of Jewish law. This is the only work that I was able to find on the subject, and I enjoyed reading it. It's very easy to read and informative. I wish there had been a little more "how to" information, such as can you feed your pet non-kosher food and if so can you keep it in your freezer where human food is kept (my understanding of this is that it is permissible to do this, but the book doesn't directly answer).

A book on this kind of topic could easily have been tedious to read, but this one is quite easy and is meant for ordinary people and not (just) scholars of Jewish law.

I definitely am glad I read the book.
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