Mishpatim: Sefat Emet and Parshischa Rav: Mitzvah 79 – Concept 190
“People of holiness shall you be to Me: You shall not eat flesh of an animal that was torn in the field; to the dog shall you throw it.” (Exodus 22:30) We may not eat the meat of a mortally wounded animal. (Rambam, Hilchot Ma’achalot Assurot – The Laws of Forbidden Foods)
We have the ability to transform ourselves into Holy People even when we eat. In order to do so, we must consume only that which reflects the best of life and not something that already contains the taste of death within it. (Based on Sefat Emet)
The Rav of Parshischa notes the difference between humans and angels. Our existence is not dependent upon Torah and the Mitzvot. There are plenty of people who neither study Torah nor perform Mitzvot yet they exist. Angels’ existence, though, is directly tied to the fulfillment of God’s commandments. Angels are created when we perform Mitzvot.
Although our existence is not contingent upon studying Torah and performing Mitzvot, Torah scholars understand that life without Torah and Mitzvot is hardly worthwhile. Torah scholars therefore have an aspect of the angel in their own lives. When God tells Moshe to place the laws before the nation, He is teaching us that just as performance of Mitzvot precedes the existence of angels – they only come into existence after Mitzvot are performed – so too, do the Torah’s laws precede our existence. Although we live even if we do not perform Mitzvot, living a life that is worthwhile, that is meaningful is predicated upon the performance of Torah and Mitzvot.
We must take that which is prepared for us as a source of life, rather than grab anything available in order to make it our own.