Tuesday, October 12, 2010

“Hashem Delivers Man and Beast”

As is well known, causing an animal unnecessary pain is a Torah prohibition—and certainly killing an animal unnecessarily is forbidden. Although man is potentially above animals, the “crown of creation” formed after all other creatures, nevertheless the wicked are told that even the simplest creature was generated before them.
Once Alexander the Great was in north Africa, which was a distant land. While there he attended a very interesting court case. A certain man had purchased a field from his friend and had found a valuable gem. The buyer wished to return it to the seller but the seller refused, saying that it was obviously destined to be in the hands of the finder.
When this case came before the local king for adjudication he proposed a very brilliant suggestion. “Your son should marry his daughter. If you then give them the gem you will both be satisfied.”
Alexander was taken aback at this lenient ruling. “If it was me, I would chop off both of their heads and take the gem for myself!”
The local ruler looked markedly at Alexander, and, clearly disgusted, made a biting comment, “If the sun shines on countries under your domain it can only be in the merit of the animals there. Does it not say, 'אדם ובהמה תושיע ה''—‘Hashem delivers man and beast’?”
The Yad Efraim, zt"l, explains a well known halachah with this midrash. “Now we understand why one must feed his animals before himself. Even if a city is wicked its very survival can sometimes be in the merit of the innocent animals who dwell there!”


Moriah said...

“Now we understand why one must feed his animals before himself."

I read this years ago and it had an incredible effect on me and my husband who not only have pets of our own but somehow became rescuers of many kind of abused and abandoned animals. This seems to have been sanctioned by Hashem as the animals would come to us - to our house and wait outside. Some would follow us from the street when we would go walking. We would have to remind each other not to look at them when they began to follow us on Shabbos. This brings me to a question and something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. Is there something wrong with owning pets? Can one bring them to Israel?

Anonymous said...

A wonderful lesson rabbi. and one which many today dont pay attention to.blessings , theresa
(as you may remember i am anoahide, and receive your lessons under the daisymay yahoo id.

Micha Golshevsky said...

Moriah: I have never heard of any reason to refrain from having pets, even in Israel, except one which likely will not be a problem for you.
The Arizal explains that one who is not careful to feed his animals and causes them to die of starvation, will suffer horribly for this, since he has violated the Torah prohibition of causing pain to an animal. He says that such carelessness can literally cause someone to die chas v'shalom.
Conclusion: nothing wrong with owning pets if you are meticulous to feed them on time. No problem bringing domesticated non-dangerous pets to Israel.