Re: Are humans kosher?

Gil Student (Gil_Student@ZRC.com)
13 Jan 97 10:37:39

The Gemara in K'suvos (60a) states that human blood is Biblically
permitted. Rabbinically it is forbidden when it becomes detached from the
body (eg if it drips onto food). 1` The reason for this is either so that
no one suspects you of eating forbidden animal blood (Rashi, Ran, Nimukei
Yosef) or so that you do not accidentally eat animal blood instead of human
blood (Rosh, Rambam). The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (YD 66) quote the first
reason and the Aruch HaShulchan quotes the second. The Shulchan Aruch
states that if blood drips into food it should be removed. If it has
already been mixed in (and is less than 1/60 of the mixture, which is
almost certain unless the blood really gushed out) then it is permissible
to eat the mixture.

However, eating human flesh is a more controversial subject. There are at
least four different opinions on the subject. The Ramban says that when
the Gemara learns that eating blood is permissible, it also learns that
eating human flesh is permissible. The Ra'avad (Hilchos Ma'achalos Assuros
3:4), the Rashba, and the Rosh (5:19) agree with the Ramban. However, the
Rosh adds that the same rabbinical prohibition that applies to human blood
(when it is detached) also applies to human flesh. The Reah and Ritva say
that eating human flesh is forbidden because humans are not kosher animals
and that the permission learned in the Gemara does not apply to flesh. The
Rambam (Hilchos Ma'achalos Assuros 2:3,3:4) agrees that the permission does
not apply to human f lesh. However, he feels that the prohibition not to
eat non-kosher animals does not apply to humans but the positive
commandment to only eat kosher animals effectively excludes the option.
The difference being that if you did eat human flesh and it was forbidden
by a prohibition (Reah and Ritva) then you would be punished by a beis din
(rabbinic court) with lashes. If it was only forbidden from a positive
commandment (Rambam) then there would be no such punishment from a beis
din. The Nimukei Yosef agrees with the Ramban that theoretically human
flesh is permissible to eat. However, because it forbidden to eat flesh
from a live animal (Eiver min hachai) and it is forbidden to derive any
benefit from a human corpse, it is impossible in practice to use th is
permission. The Tur and Shulchan Aruch do not discuss this issue and the
Rema (YD 79:1) says that human flesh is biblically forbidden (not like the
Ramban, Rosh, etc.) to eat (not like the Ramban, Rosh, etc.) but does not
specify which biblical prohibition.