Arthur Hertzberg

American rabbi and historian

Arthur Hertzberg (June 9, 1921April 17, 2006) was a Conservative rabbi and prominent Jewish-American scholar and activist.

Arthur Hertzberg in 1972


  • Man's carnivorous nature is not taken for granted, or praised in the fundamental teachings of Judaism. The rabbis of the Talmud told that men were vegetarians in earliest times, between Creation and the generation of Noah. In the twelfth century Maimonides, the greatest of all rabbinic scholars, explained that animal sacrifices had been instituted in ancient Judaism as a concession to the prevalent ancient practice of making such offerings to the pagan gods (Moreh Nebuhim 111:32). The implication is clear, that Judaism was engaged in weaning men from such practices. Judaism as a religion offers the option of eating animal flesh, and most Jews do, but in our own country there has been a movement towards vegetarianism among very pious Jews. A whole galaxy of central rabbinic and spiritual teachers including several past and present Chief Rabbis of the Holy Land, have been affirming vegetarianism as the ultimate meaning of Jewish moral teaching. They have been proclaiming the autonomy of all living creatures as the value which our religious tradition must now teach to all of its believers.
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