“I will give grass in the field for your animals and you will eat …” (Devarim 11:15) – God promises to provide for animals before providing for people. So too, the Talmud instructs that a person should feed his animals in the morning before he himself eats.
By caring for animals, one gains sensitivity to the needs of others. A person who owns a pet can put this constant lesson into practice.
The Medrash tells us that compassion for animals was the characteristic for which Moses merited to become “the shepherd” of his people.
The Torah requires a person to alleviate the suffering of animals and it is certainly forbidden to cause pain to an animal for no reason.
The Torah explicitly prohibits a number of practices because of the pain or distress that they cause to animals. Among them are the following:
- Muzzling an animal that is working in the field, as this denies him the pleasure of eating what he sees
- Plowing with two different species yoked together (e.g. a cow with a mule), because one may have more strength and stamina, and cause distress to the other
May we be kind to all of God’s creatures!