web analytics
August 27, 2015 / 12 Elul, 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
Cong. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY-12)
Now More than a Dozen Democratic Reps Against Nuclear Iran Deal
Latest Judaism Stories
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since giving the machatzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his income.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Today, few people fast during the Days of Selichot, but the custom is to rise early to recite Selichot.

Winiarz-Shaya-logo

Each month is associated with a particular tribe. The month of Elul is matched up with Gad. What makes Gad unique?

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo-NEW

Sanctions and indictment of the Jew, holding him to a higher standard, is as common and misplaced as ever.

To allow for free will, there are times when Hashem will allow a person the “opportunity to be the messenger.”

“There is a mitzvah to pay the worker on that day,” answered Mr. Lerner.

Be happy. Be grateful. God knows what he is doing. It is all happening for a reason.

We get so busy living our lives, handling our day-to-day little crises that we forget to go that one step deeper and appreciate our lives.

The promise for long life only comes from 2 commandments; What’s the connection between them?

Mighty Amalek deliberately attacked enemy’s weakest members, despicable even by ancient standards

If we parents fail to honor responsibilities then society’s children will pay the price for our sins

Consider how our Heavenly Father feels when He sees His children adopting all other parents but Him

You may wonder, how can we be excited and joyful at a time when His Judgment, not Fatherly Love, reigns supreme?

Children resist authority and struggle against structure, chores, and rules. But deep down they feel loved when they are granted guidelines and limits.

Judges, essentially apolitical, fulfilled a temporary purpose and then returned to private life

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

Since giving the machatzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his income.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

We can suggest that since Hashem Himself appointed Dovid there is no question. The rules are only in place for when we must chose a king ourselves.

Perhaps a careful reading of the pesukim in the parsha will shed light on this dilemma.

The second parshah of Shema is referring to keeping the rest of the mitzvos, and there the Torah does not require that one spend all of his money in order to perform the mitzvos.

Why would Moshe Rabbeinu have thought that the vow that disallowed him to enter Eretz Yisrael was annulled simply because he was allowed to conquer and enter the land of Sichon and Og?

In addition to the restrictions of Tisha B’Av, there are several restrictions that one may not perform during the week that Tisha B’Av falls in.

We do not find that Pinchas was chastised for what he did; on the contrary he was greatly rewarded.

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: