Yom Rishon, 20 Nisan 5774
Hol Hamoed Pesach Sunday, 20 April 2014
Animal Welfare

by Rabbi Hillel Avidan

Judaism moved early to protect the rights of animals and to the extent that Christianity and Islam express concern for animals, they have usually borrowed from Jewish sources. Yet Jews have been reluctant to proclaim this fact or to demonstrate how modern animal welfare societies have been inspired (albeit unconsciously or indirectly) by the teachings of our faith. Jews have cause to feel both pride and great sadness when they consider the exacting moral standards of Jewish animal welfare legislation and homily, and compare those standards with the neglect and abuse of animals so characteristic of most societies and legal systems, past and present. Genesis 1:26 states that man may dominate all other creatures (which would appear inevitable, given superior human intelligence) but the dominion intended is a caring and responsible paternalism rather than a callous exploitation. In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 59b) "dominion" is interpreted as the privilege of using animals for labour.  Read more