D’var Torah By: Shira Milgrom
God blessed the first humans, told them to multiply and increase, and then instructed them: “Look, I have given you all the seed-bearing plants on the face of the earth, and every tree that has in it seed-bearing fruit; these are yours to eat” (Genesis 1:29). In the utopian vision of the Garden of Eden, human beings are created vegetarian.
The vision of the garden collapses, however. God created human beings to struggle with good and evil, but alas, they chose evil all the time. “When the Eternal saw how great was the wickedness of human beings in the earth, that the direction of their thoughts was nothing but wicked all the time, the Eternal regretted having made human beings on earth, and was heartsick. So the Eternal thought, ‘I will wipe the humans whom I created from off the face of the earth—the humans, [and with them] the beasts, the reptiles, the birds of the sky—for I rue the day I made them’ ” (Genesis 6:5-7).
Following the flood, God again blesses human beings and tells them to multiply and increase. But this time, God does not set the bar so high regarding food. “God then blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. . . . Any small animal that is alive shall be food for you, like green grasses—I give you [them]’ all” (Genesis 9:1,3). Human beings may now eat anything at all—with one proviso: “But flesh whose lifeblood is [still] in it you may not eat” (Genesis 9:4). Human beings are granted unrestricted access to the flesh; the life, symbolized by its blood, does not belong to us. In the Torah’s framework, this law applies to all of humanity—to Noah and all his descendants.
Read more at: reformjudaism.org