Today’s lesson is dedicated as a merit for Bat-el Chaya bat Orly – for success and abundant spiritual and material blessing.
11 Tevet

  1. Animals
    Our Sages said: “The suffering of animals is Torah law” (Shabbos 128b); that is, it is forbidden by Torah law to cause an animal to suffer. For this reason they are to be fed before the person who owns them eats his own food. This law is alluded in the verse, I shall provide grass in your field for your cattle and you will eat and you will be satisfied (Devarim 11:15) — first “I shall provide grass in your field for your cattle” and only after that “and you will eat and you will be satisfied.” A story is told of a man who lived in the time of the Arizal who was punished with the death of his children because his family caused suffering to chicks. There had been a basket lying in a place that the young chickens used to climb up to their mother hen, but the man’s wife removed the basket, not realizing that by doing so the chicks would have no way of climbing up. For this the family was punished! From this episode we learn why it is important to heed the will and testament of Rabbi Yehudah Hachassid, who wrote that one should not raise chickens, for it is nearly impossible to guarantee that they not suffer under our care. Most often people to not succeed in caring for them properly, as seen from the fact that most of them die from falling or they are eaten by cats and mice and the like. It is therefore better that we not raise them at all. Nevertheless, one who has no choice but to raise animals, should be exceedingly careful and must urge his family to give them their food on time, because ultimately it is the responsibility of the head of the household that they be fed. The punishment of one who causes their suffering is indeed severe. One must be especially careful about this if they are locked in a cage, in which case one must be even more compassionate and give them their food as early as possible, to avoid the sin of causing suffering to animals.