web analytics
May 28, 2015 / 10 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Tza’ar Ba’alei Chaim

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

In this week’s parshah Bilam agreed to travel to Balak, the king of Moav, for the purpose of cursing Bnei Yisrael. En route, his trusted donkey suddenly refused to continue on its path, instead veering to the side of the road.

At one point the donkey smashed Bilam’s leg into the wall. Bilam hit his donkey three times. The reason that his donkey would not proceed was because it saw a malach standing in the road with his sword drawn. Bilam did not see this and therefore hit his donkey. Hashem then allowed the donkey to speak to Bilam, and the donkey informed him as to why he was not continuing down the road. Hashem allowed Bilam to see the malach as well. The malach said to Bilam, “Why have you hit your donkey three times?”

The Rambam, in Moreh Nevuchim (cheilek 3, perek 17), writes that the pasuk that describes the malach’s rebuke of Bilam for hitting his donkey is the Torah source for disallowing one to cause pain to an animal – known as tza’ar ba’alei chaim. There are many other sources brought by the Rishonim and Acharonim regarding this. Rashi, in Shabbos 128b, says that tza’ar ba’alei chaim is derived from the pasuk in Parshas Mishpatim: “Azov ta’azov imo.” We learn from this that one must help unload his fellow’s animal, due to the strain that the load is causing.

Rabbeinu Peretz, in Baba Metzia 32b, says that there is no Torah source for tza’ar ba’alei chaim; rather, it is a halacha l’Moshe miSinai. The Shita Mekubetzes, in Baba Metzia there, quotes a Raavad that says that we derive this prohibition from the aveirah of placing a muzzle on an ox when he is plowing. The Sefer Chareidim (14:1) says that tza’ar ba’alei chaim is part of the mitzvah of vehalachta bidrachav (and we should follow in Hashem’s ways). The Chasam Sofer, in Baba Metzia there, says that tza’ar ba’alei chaim is derived from the pasuk of “verachamav al kol ma’asav” (and He has mercy on all of His creations).

The source that the Rambam cites, however, is difficult to understand. The Terumas HaDeshen (cheilek 2, siman 105) writes that one may cause tza’ar if there is a legitimate purpose, e.g. for a refuah, among others. The Rama codifies this in Even Haezer 5:14. There, the Shulchan Aruch says that it is prohibited to sterilize an animal. The Rama there says that for a refuah or other legitimate purposes, sterilization and other forms of tza’ar are permitted. He adds, though, that when it is not for refuah purposes, the world’s minhag is not to inflict tza’ar – as this is achzariyos.

But if it is not prohibited when there is a purpose for inflicting the tza’ar, why was Bilam chastised for tza’ar ba’alei chaim? Did he not have a purpose for hitting his donkey, namely to get it to listen to him and cooperate by traveling on the path?

In order to explain this we must understand the fundamental reason why we are ever allowed to cause tza’ar to an animal for our purposes. It is not because our needs outweigh those of animals. Instead, it is because Hashem created animals to serve us. But there is a caveat. This permission is only granted provided that our action is permitted. If one is performing a forbidden action, he has no rights over the animals. It is only to perform the permitted actions that Hashem allows us to use His animals.

Bilam decided to travel to Balak despite Hashem telling him not to. He thought he could find the time when Hashem was, kaviyachol (so to say), angry and then curse Bnei Yisrael against Hashem’s will. Since this trip was not the action that Hashem wanted Bilam to take, Bilam had no rights over the animal kingdom on this trip.

Therefore we can deduce from the malach’s question to Bilam – “Why have you hit your donkey three times?” – that when one is not acting in accordance with Hashem’s ratzon, he will have no authority over animals and thus will not be allowed to inflict tza’ar on them.

The Ohr Sameach (Hilchos Shabbos 25:26) explains the Yerushalmi that riding on an animal on Shabbos is a violation of tza’ar ba’alei chaim. This is because once this is not permitted it now also becomes prohibited to ride on the animal as a result of tza’ar ba’alei chaim.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Tza’ar Ba’alei Chaim”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
American dollars.
IRS $50M Cyber Security Scandal Stretches to Russia
Latest Judaism Stories
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Tosafos suggests several answers as to how a minor can own an item, m’d’Oraisa.

Naso Lecture

This week’s video discusses the important connection between the Priestly Blessing and parenting.

Mosaic of 12 Tribes

Many of us simply don’t get the need for the Torah to list the exact same gift offering, 12 times!

Leff-052215

There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.

Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.

One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.

This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if […]

God and the divine origin of His Torah are facts even though we do not fully comprehend them.

So if we basically live the same life, why should he get eternal reward and not me?”

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

In Parshas Pinchas the Torah introduces the Mussaf for Shavuos by describing it as Yom HaBikurim when we bring the new offering.

Rachel was thrown by the sight and began to caringly think whom this person might be.

The desert, with its unearthly silence & emptiness, is the condition in which the Word can be heard

The census focused on the individual, proving each is created as irreplaceable, unique images of God

Jewish survival in a dysfunctional world requires women assuming the role Hashem gave them at Sinai

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Tosafos suggests several answers as to how a minor can own an item, m’d’Oraisa.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

The mitzvah that parents must give their son a bris milah is a mitzvah that they must perform for someone else – namely their son.

The Bach writes that he mentioned his insights to many of the leading gedolim and no one disproved him.

The Bais Halevi answers that we must properly define what is considered to be “in the middle of a mitzvah.”

In this case one could reason that by applying halach achar harov we could permit the forbidden bird as well.

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

The Netziv answered that there is a difference between a piece of bread that was cut already in front of you, and one that was cut from beforehand.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/tzaar-baalei-chaim-2/2014/07/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: