Thursday, October 18, 2007

Science Fiction and Judaism

Cross-posted on JoeSettler

I’ve been thinking about scientific advances and the Jewish community.

Within the next 20 years there are certain advances which are clearly on the way, which are clearly going to raise interesting and unique halachic questions and solutions.

The first advance most people mention will be vat-grown cloned meat.

Perhaps it won’t be as big a problem if the original animal was slaughtered properly, but what happens when the meat is grown from some cells extracted from a living animal.

Big “Ever min’haChai” problem right there – and not just for Jews.

If you’re thinking that this won’t happen in the next 2 decades, think again. They’ve already cultivated a human looking ear from cow cells on scaffolds attached to a mouse. Next stop, cheap steaks.

But my real and first concern will be from genetically engineered “SloSpoil” TM to JoeSettler fruits and vegetables.

When I originally wrote this post, I thought this is going to be a major problem every Shmittah. Sure we’ll throw the old “SloSpoil” TM fruits and vegetables into a special garbage, but how can we then throw out that garbage if it will take months before the fruits and vegetable go bad?

But Jameel pointed out that this is a great solution to the Shmittah problem.

During the Shmittah year we will have access to all our old fruits and vegetables grown the year before.

Farmers will store their “SloSpoil” TM Vegetables and Fruit over the year, and sell them during the Shmittah year. In fact, as “SloSpoil” TM fruits and vegetables will be genetically engineered to grow more and faster, it will help fulfill the Biblical promise that in the 6th year there will be a special blessing on the produce that it will be enough to supply us for 3 years.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


PsychoToddler said...

And here I was expecting a post about Judaism and space travel and finding life on other worlds.

Vat-grown beef and slow-spoil vegetables? Blech. Stop thinking so small. You need to find some better books.

JoeSettler said...

I'll work on it. I was thinking practical immediate term problems.

JoeSettler said...

Islam and Space Travel

Lurker said...

Rav Shlomo Goren zt"l paskened that one is not obligated to observe any mitzvot asei she'hazman grama outside the confines of Earth. I.e., outside of Earth, there is no Shabbat, no Haggim, no zmanei tfilla, etc. He classified all such mitzvot as mitvot hatluyot b'kadur ha'aretz. (Bear in mind that low-orbit flights, such as those of the Space Shuttle, might not count as "outside the confines of Earth". Being on the Moon certainly would, though -- Rav Goren used that as his example.)

Lurker said...

It's not at all clear that ever min ha'hai would apply to meat grown from some cells extracted from a living animal. If the original cell sample was miniscule, the resulting tissue grown contains close to nothing from the original, and the original might be considered batel b'shishim. And if the original cell sample was microscopic, then there was never even any issur on it to begin with.

Here's a more interesting question: In Star Trek, most of their food comes from replicators. This is a variation on transporter technology: A food sample is scanned, down to its molecular level. Later, a copy of it is reassembled by the replicator, using raw matter as input, which is then rearranged at a subatomic level to produce an atom-for-atom duplicate of the original sample.

Would food produced this way be kosher? If yes, that would mean that one could eat pork that is effectively identical to the real thing.

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