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Ruling 2612

Based on obligatory precaution, the head of an animal must not be separated from its body before the spirit (rūḥ) has left its body, although this does not make the animal unlawful to eat. However, there is no problem if the animal’s head is separated from its body accidentally or owing to the sharpness of the knife. Similarly, [it is not permitted,] based on obligatory precaution, to break the animal’s neck or to cut its spinal cord before the spirit has left its body. The spinal cord is like a white thread that runs between the lumbar vertebrae and extends from the animal’s neck to its tail.