- Category: DO NOT EAT THE LIMB OF A LIVING ANIMAL
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Are Noahides Prohibited from Causing Other Creatures Pain?
If the source of tzaar baalei chaim is Halacha le-Moshe mi-Sinai (a command given directly to Moses) or from Deuteronomy 25:4 or Exodus 23:5, then it is clear that the prohibition does not apply to Noahides. This is because the verses cited, as well as halachos leMoshe miSinai, were not commanded to Noahides. The Aishel Avraham (Buczacz)15 and the Pri Megadim16 hold Bnei Noach are not obligated in tza’ar ba’alei chaim based upon these sources.
According to Maimonides and the Sefer Chassidim, however, Noahides are biblically enjoined against causing unnecessary suffering to other living beings.
Upon closer examination it appears these sources are not mutually exclusive. Although the Aishel Avraham and Pri Megadim hold that Noahides are not obligated in tzaar baalei chaim, this appears to only be in regard to the Torah verses related to the commandment; after all, these verses explicitly reference the Jewish Sinaitic obligation.
Nevertheless, the Aishel Avraham and Pri Megadim would certainly agree that, independent of the Torah verses, Noahides have an obligation to not cause harm to other creatures.
Admittedly, there are a number of subtle issues inherent in Maimonides’s and the Sefer Chassidim’s derivations (we will discuss these issues in the live class). Regardless
of these issues, there are many other reasons to assume Noahides are prohibited from causing suffering to animals, namely on account of it being of the mitzvos ha- muskalos – the logically compelled mitzvos.17
Because the prohibition may be biblical in nature (as opposed to being logically compelled) it is advisable that Noahides practice the obligations according to their full exposition in Torah law. The following is a compilation of the laws of tzaar baalei chaim:
To Which Animals Does it Apply?
- The prohibition applies to all animals and, apparently, insects as well 18
- When Does the Prohibition Not Apply?
- Causing pain to animals is only restricted to unnecessary pain. Man was given the right to use animals for his needs (food, clothing, etc.)19 Discomfort that is necessary as part of such uses is not 20
- The “need” must be genuine and tangible. For example, to force feed an animal so that its meat should look more appealing is not 21
- Even when one is permitted to harm an animal for a valid need, he may not cause more suffering than is 22
15 Magen Avraham 13 on Orach Chaim 305.
16 Mishbitzos Zahav, Orach Chaim 468:2.
17 For further perspectives see the Sefer Chareidim 14:1; Chiddushei Chasam Sofer to Bava Metzia 32; Matza Chein 54:11 to Toldos Noach 1:26.
18 Igros Moshe Choshen Mishpat II: 47. There is some disagreement in the poskim as to fish; see Siach Yitzchok 387
19 Sanhedrin 59b. See also Taz, Yoreh Deah 117:4.
20 See also Even HaEzer 5:14; Rama, Even HaEzer 5:19; Terumas HaDeshen 105.
21 Igros Moshe Even HaEzer IV: 92.
22 See the sources cited above.
For a far more in-depth and advanced study of all the Seven Noahide Laws consider taking the Noahide Laws Yeshiva Course.
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