Protect Animals
Protect Animals

From the very beginning of people’s appearance on Earth, humankind has shared the planet with animals.  The opening verses of the book of Genesis suggest that the creation of animals was part of G-d’s plan, that humans should not be all alone.  The Eternal One said, “It is not good for Adam to be alone.  I will make a fitting companion.  So, the Eternal One formed from the Earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them.  Whatever name he gave them, that would be their name” (Genesis 2:18-19).  Not only has humanity shared existence with animals since the beginning of time, but as revealed by the Torah and by the rabbis, part of humanity’s obligation is to care for and promote the well-being of animal life.  This is done by extending to animals some of the privileges people claim for themselves, but also by seeing to their health, well-being, and safety. 

From Our Texts:

“Six days you shall do your work, but on the Seventh Day you shall cease from labor, in order that your ox and your donkey may rest.”  -Exodus 23:12

Rabbi Judah said in the name of Rav, “It is forbidden for a man to eat until he has fed his animals.  As it is written, ‘I will give grass in your fields for your animals, and you shall eat and be satiated.’”  -Deuteronomy 11:15, Gittin 62a

“If you should happen upon a bird’s nest along the way, in a tree or upon the ground, with chicks or eggs, with the mother nesting upon them, do not take the mother along with the young.  Shoo the mother away, and take only the young, in order that you may fare well and have a long life.”  -Deuteronomy 22:6-7  

The logic behind this commandment is that G-d wants us to be concerned with the feelings of the mother bird over her young.  -Maimonides

Questions for Reflection:

1. How does the protection of animals support the Jewish value of shm’rat ha-teva, to protect nature?

2. How is protecting animals an act of g’milut chasadim--loving kindness?

3. How can you incorporate the value of tza’ar ba’alei chayim in your classroom?

Take care of all the world’s creatures by keeping the environment safe and remembering that all animals need food and shelter.


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