This COVID-19 pandemic that the world is suffering is called “novel” for a reason. Novel means “new.” It’s not only new because it has never happened before. Health experts are learning new information about it all the time. One of the areas where there have been “outbreaks” of this covid is in the slaughterhouses of the meatpacking industry. For example, the news source Reuters reported (Global Ad Media, 6/24/20) in late June concerning covid, “In many rural parts of the United States, meatpacking plants have been the main source of infection.”
Authorities conclude that these covid outbreaks in the meatpacking industry are caused solely by its unusual work environment. For instance, it involves the lifting of heavy meat that causes workers to breath heavily. If a worker has covid, such heavy breathing causes more exhaled droplets or aerosols to be expelled as airborne transmission of covid. And it is difficult in this industry for its workers to maintain the required social guideline of being six feet apart on the work lines. Other issues involve the status of workers, such as many being migrants who are housed in close quarters. They fear losing their jobs if they must be quarantined due to having covid symptoms.
My most recent book was published July 1 and titled Moses Predicted COVID-19 (130 pp.). I concede that this title is provocative; one reviewer called it “ambitious.” But it most readily indicates my thesis: the world should recognize that Moses’ food laws in the Bible–which are the basis of Orthodox Jews’ kosher diet–have a hygienic basis. That is, Moses deemed certain animals “unclean,” and thus not to be eaten or their carcasses touched, since they carry an exorbitant multitude of pathogens (germs) that can cause (deadly) diseases to humans, such as this COVID-19 we now have.
Here is some of what Moses says concerning the carcasses of animals that he declares “unclean,” which information was given to him by God on Mount Sinai when God gave him the Ten Commandments: “By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until the evening, and whoever carries any part of the carcass of any of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening. Every animal that has divided hoofs but is not cleft-footed or does not chew the cud is unclean for you; everyone who touches one of them shall be unclean. All that walk on their paws, among the animals that walk on all fours, are unclean for you; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening, and the one who carries the carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until the evening; they are unclean for you” (Leviticus 11.24-28 NRSV).
So, Moses deems animals that have divided hoofs and chew the cud as “clean.” That means they may be eaten and that there is no problem with touching their carcasses. Such animals include cattle, sheep, deer, etc. But Moses deems all other animals as “unclean” and therefore not to be eaten nor their carcasses touched. Most notable among them is the pig. Orthodox Jews are well known for not eating pork. For Moses states expressly concerning it, “The pig, for even though it has divided hoofs and is cleft-footed, it does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean for you” (Lev 11.7-8).
Because of these Mosaic instructions, I wonder if workers in slaughterhouses are more susceptible to COVID-19 wherein pork and perhaps some foul are being processed. Regarding foul, in my book I document how all nine of the past, foremost pandemics since the Spanish Flu of 1918 were caused by zoonosis–the transmission of a virus (thus not a bacteria) from animal to human–and some of these involved transmission from both pigs and geese. There is a question about whether or not Moses deems geese and/or ducks as “unclean,” which I treat in my book.
I don’t know; just wondering. Could some of these outbreaks at slaughterhouses be due to the transmission of covid from pork or foul to workers? So far, experts say there has been no such transmission. But reading these injunctions by the great Lawgiver Moses are sobering when you think of pork and poultry being processed in the meatpacking industry.