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The Name of the Game

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Topic: Game (Deer), Kosher

Jon Subar wrote:

Isaac sent Esau out to catch 'some game' before planning to give him his blessing. What is 'game'? Doesn't sound very kosher to me because it wasn't ritually slaughtered. Didn't the Patriarchs keep kosher even though it was before Sinai, before the Torah was given?

By the way: At work we tried to get a windshield put in a truck Friday. The biggest glass company in Grand Rapids, Michigan - who always does that for us - couldn't do it for us on Friday. Half of their service technicians had the day off...opening day of deer season of course!

Dear Jon,

Did you say 'deer' Jon? I ask you this because the Midrash says that Esau ran and caught deer for his father.

The Hebrew word 'hunt' - 'tsad'- also means 'trap.' Hence, Esau may have trapped the animals with a net, snare, or even his bare hands. After all, his brother Yaakov was so strong he was able to lift a giant stone from the well, a stone requiring many men to budge.

Why then did Yitzchak tell Esau, "Sharpen your weapons, your sword and your bow?" The sword was in order to ritually slaughter the animal. The bow was to protect himself from wild animals, or in order to disable the animal - but in a way that would not render it unkosher.

The Talmud says that one of the Sages was able to ritually slaughter a bird in flight with a sharp arrow. Perhaps Esau, renowned for his hunting prowess, was equally skillful. (According to Japanese sources a martial-arts expert in archery would be able to do this as well.)

  • Midrash Tanchuma, Toldot 11
  • Tractate Chullin 30b
  • Genesis 27:3, Rashi and Siftei Chachamim

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