Rabbi Joseph Albo, Book of Principles, Book 3, chapter 15
1 א
We need to explain the reason that meat, which was forbidden to the First Man is then made permissible to Noah and his offspring. The explanation begins with the story of Cain and Abel. We must ask: Why did God not look favorably on Cain’s offering of his field produce? The answer is that Cain had grown up watching his father Adam toil and sweat to farm his land, surviving on vegetables alone as God had forbade him and his family to eat meat. Cain himself became a farmer, because he believed that there could be no distinction between the human and the animal, except in the fact that the human must work for his produce, whereas the animals simply took what was wild. However, because both humans and animals both ate the same foodstuff, Cain reasoned that they where essentially at the same spiritual level. Thus Cain brought an offering from his field, and was appalled at the idea of an animal sacrifice. Cain’s notion of equality between humans and animals eventually led him to murder his brother, for he saw Abel kill an animal for a sacrifice, and reasoned that if a human can kill an animal, than a human can kill another human…Thus God allowed Noah to eat animals to reintroduce the moral distinction between the animal and the human.
2 ב

Suggested Discussion Questions:

What do you think of the commentator's link between Noah being allowed to eat animals and the story of Cain and Abel?

Do you think we need this distinction between animals and ourselves in order to have a more ethical society?

3 ג
Time Period: Medieval (Geonim through the 16th Century)