Tza'ar ba'alei chayim
Tza'ar ba'alei chayim (literally means: "the suffering of living creatures") is a Jewish commandment which bans causing animals unnecessary suffering. This concept is not clearly enunciated in the written Torah, but was accepted by the Talmud as being a Biblical mandate. It is linked in the Talmud from the Biblical law requiring people to assist in unloading burdens from animals (Exodus 23:5).
In traditional Jewish law, kosher animals may be eaten if they're killed using the slaughter method known as shechitah, where the animal is killed by having its throat cut swiftly using an extremely sharp and specially designed knife. Many Rabbis assert that these regulations were put in place to reduce tza'ar ba'alei chayim and to ensure that the animal has the easiest possible death. The design of the kosher knives as well as regulation relating to how the cut is made have been seen to greatly reduce or completely eliminate reaction from the kosher cut. Even modern day scientists that are critical of shechita agree that it greatly improved welfare at slaughter in historical periods. Though, there is disagreement as to shechita's effectivity when compared to modern day slaughter methods, with some scientific experts in favor of the humanness of shechita and others opposed.
In 2000, the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards banned the common slaughter method of "shackling and hoisting" (pulling a conscious animal into the air with a chain before slaughter). Rabbis Joel Roth and Elliot Dorff wrote a responsum on this topic which concluded that shackling and hoisting "unquestionably constitutes a violation of Jewish laws that forbid us to cause undue pain to animals."
Enforcing a commitment to tza'ar ba'alei chayim in food production has been part of the effort of Conservative Judaism's Magen Tzedek commission, formerly known as Hekshher Tzedek. The Magen Tzedek commission sees compliance with the Humane Farm Animal Care Standards (HFAC) as sufficiently preventing unnecessary suffering to animals. Amid disputed claims of Orthodox opposition the Magen Tzedek commission has not been successful in recruiting any food producers into its certification program.
The Jewish Initiative For Animals (JIFA)
The Jewish Initiative For Animals supports innovative programs that seek to turn the Jewish value of tza'ar ba'alei chayim into action and build Jewish American communities in the process. In November 2016 JIFA partnered with kosher meat distributors KOL Foods and Grow and Behold to bring the a run of kosher certified heritage breed chickens to market for the first time in approximately 50 years. Heritage breed chickens and turkeys are able to achieve highest possible welfare outcomes. Thus, the renewed availability of heritage chicken to kosher consumer has helped expand values of tza'ar ba'alei chayim within the modern kosher meat industry. JIFA has also sought to spread the values of tza'ar ba'alei chayim into the Jewish world through its Ark Project, a service-learning curriculum for b’nai mitzvah. This curriculum seeks to engages with Jewish teaching and real life problems about topics such as homeless animals, animals used in entertainment, farmed animal welfare, conservation of wildlife and more.
The Shamayim V'Aretz Institute
The Shamayim V'Aretz Institute is a Jewish animal protection group that educates leaders, trains advocates, and leads campaigns for the humane treatment of animals. Shamyim V'Aretz is led by activist Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz and has run campaigns which seek to end: kosher certification veal, the controversial practice of kapparot, and the kosher certifying of cattle that are killed using shackle and hoist techniques.
According to the Shulkhan Aruch, "anything that is necessary for medical purposes, or for anything else, is exempt from the prohibition of causing suffering to animals" (Even ha-Ezer 5:14).
Most Jewish authorities allow medical research if it will help people in need, and if the animals do not undergo any unnecessary suffering. Reform Judaism's Central Conference of American Rabbis, for example, affirms that animal research is permissible if it will save human lives, so long as animals are subjected to little pain and not used in “frivolous” experiments such as cosmetic testing.
In the Noachide Code
A concern for suffering caused to animals is found in Judaism's Seven Laws of Noah, which apply to all humankind. One of the seven laws, ever min ha chai, prohibits eating the flesh of live animals. This law is derived from Genesis 9:4, as interpreted in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 59a).
In Jewish lore
Compassion for animals is declared to have been the merit of Moses which made him the shepherd of his people, while Judah ha-Nasi saw in his own ailment the punishment for having once failed to show compassion for a frightened calf.
Other areas of concern for animals in Jewish law
Resting on the Sabbath also meant providing rest for the working animals, and people are instructed to feed their animals before they sit down to eat.
At harvest time, the working animals must not be muzzled, so that they can eat of the harvest as they work.
- Rabbi Moses ben Israel Isserles (Rama), Even HaEzer 5:14: Anything that is for health purposes or other purposes, there is no concern for tza’ar ba’alei chayim...
- Barnhill, David Landis; Gottlieb, Roger S. (2010-03-29). Deep Ecology and World Religions: New Essays on Sacred Ground. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791491058.
- Bava Metzia 32b
- "Deconstructing Kosher Slaughter Part 2: The Basics".
- אשכולי, יצחק נחמן (2002). צער בעלי חיים בהלכה ובאגדה. אופקים. p. 79.
- Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, III:48
- Grandin and Rogenstein (1994). "Religious slaughter and animal welfare: a discussion for meat scientists.". www.grandin.com. Reactions to the throat cut.
- Adams & Sheridan (2008). "specifying the risks to animal welfare associated with livestock slaughter without induced insensibility". Prepared as a contribution from the Animal Welfare Branch, Product Integrity Animal and Plant Health Division, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for the Animal Welfare Working Group of the Animal Health Committee, Primary Industries Standing Committee of Australia: vii – 3. historical aspects.
- "Religious slaughter and animal welfare:a discussion for meat scientists.". www.grandin.com. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- Rawlinson, Kevin (2014-03-05). "Top vet calls for reform of kosher and halal slaughter practices". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- "Mission - Jewish Initiative for Animals". Jewish Initiative for Animals. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
- "The Return of Heritage Kosher Chicken". Jewish Initiative for Animals. 2016-11-15. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- "BuyingPoultry.com - Products that match your values". BuyingPoultry.com. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- "But is it kosher?". New Food Economy. 2017-06-08. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- "Raising a New Generation of Jewish Animal Advocates". Jewish Initiative for Animals. 2016-12-02. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- "The Shamayim V'Aretz Institute | מכון שמים וארץ". The Shamayim V'Aretz Institute | מכון שמים וארץ. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- Exodus Rabbah 2
- Deut. 25:4. See http://www.jewfaq.org/animals.htm
- "Bullfighting and Visiting a Zoo". Retrieved 2010-10-19.