Torah Knowledge For Non-Jews Vol. 1
1. Introduction to the Noahide Laws
1.9. Eating the Limb of a Living Animal
The prohibition against eating the limb of a living animal (or Ever Min ChaHai) is not as straight forward as it seems. There is no such thing as minimum amounts for Noachides (this is also important in regard to theft). If someone is cooking a stew and the tiniest amount of E”MC meat finds its way into the stew the entire stew is forbidden to be eaten.1
Ever Min HaChai (E”MC) in contemporary society
Many people believe that our world is too advanced, or civilized, to allow such barbaric behavior as eating the limb of a living animal.However, it may surprise people to know that even in our day and age these activities continue. Rocky Mountain Oysters (castrated testicles of bulls) is an example of E”MC.
Additionally if an animal is slaughtered but not yet dead by halachic standards when it is being cut up, the meat of that animal is considered E”MC.
Although it is possible to say the reason for the prohibition against eating the limb of a living animal is that God does not wish humans to be cruel to animals, it is important to note that we are never told that this is in fact the reasoning behind this law. It is a logical possibility. Although it may be argued that it is hard to say why any of the Noahide commandments is included to the exclusion of lots of other possibilities, other than the prohibition of idol worship.
“Kosher” Slaughter for Noachides
An animal is properly slaughtered if it has stopped moving before it is carved up. An animal is considered alive even if “one severs the two signs that distinguish it as having been slaughtered in a kosher manner, as long as the animal moves convulsively, the limbs and meat which are separated from it are forbidden…”2 However; if the head is completely severed from the animal then it is considered dead.
1. Hilchot Melachim U’Milchamot 9:14. A major city is one that contains 120 men in it.
2. There are those that teach that even the utensils become unusable for Noachides. However, laws involving “koshering” utensils are largely Rabbinic. Rabbinic Laws do not apply to Noachides, unless they are Rabbinic Laws from an actual Sanhedrin. Such a Rabbinic Law would need to be aimed at explaining Noachide Halachah.