I have a friend who has studied veterenary medicine. He says that when an animal is killed in the kosher way, it feels pain because there exists a certain level of innervation to the region in which the incision is made.
This runs counter to every lesson I had in Hebrew school but I don't have the knowedge to answer this. Do you know?
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In the meantime, I phoned a veterinary doctor here who works at the Jerusalem Zoo. The innervation which you mention refers to the animal feeling the knife as it touches its skin, since, of course, there are nerves in the skin. At that moment, the animal, when it feels something touching its neck, may respond with fright. If you learned in hebrew school that the animal feels *nothing* whatsoever, then that is not really correct. The animal does feel something, but the point of kosher slaughter, though, is that the Shochet cuts through the artery and nerves beneath the skin so fast that the animal dies before any messages of *real* pain arrive at the brain. It can be compared to the shot of anesthesia that a person receives at the dentist's office before having a root canal or some other dental surgery. The shot hurts, but one does not feel the surgery. In fact, this is not even an accurate comparison, because the amount of pain that a person experiences from a shot of anesthesia is likely to be much more than the pain that the animal experiences during kosher slaughter. (See also what we wrote in the discussion forum on Chulin 21, question 2, especially the last thread of the discussion)