Noach - the obligation to feed animals before you eat

One of the merits that saved Noach and his family during the mabul was that he fed the animals in the tevah. The medrash tanchuma says:
י"ב חדש שהיה נח בתיבה לא ראה שינה לא ביום ולא בלילה, שהיה עוסק וזן הבריות שעמו
"For the twelve months that Noach was in the tevah, he did not sleep by day or by night, because he was busy feeding the animals that were with him."

Similarly, the Gemara in Sanhedrin ('דף ק״ח עמוד ב) says that Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, asked Shem, the son of Noach, what they did in the תיבה. He said:
צער גדול היה לנו בתיבה בריה שדרכה להאכילה ביום האכלנוה ביום שדרכה להאכילה בלילה האכלנוה
“We had a lot of pain in the תיבה, a creature that would eat during the day, we fed during the day. A creature that would eat during the night, we fed during the night.”

Further, the passuk says (Bereishis 7:23):
 וַיִשָּׁאֶר אַךְ נֹחַ וַאֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ בַּתֵּבָה
And only Noach was left and those who were with him in the tevah

Rashi comments on this passuk:

וַיִּשָּׁאֶר אַךְ נֹחַ - גונח וכוהה דם מטורח הבהמות והחיות ויש אומרים שאיחר מזונות לארי והכישו ועליו נאמר (משלי יא) הן צדיק בארץ ישולם:
“Only Noach was left – he was groaning and coughing blood from the work of feeding the animals. Some say he brought food late to the lion and the lion hit him. About Noach the passuk says - הן צדיק בארץ ישולם – a tzaddik is punished in olam hazeh so that he should have a perfect olam habah.”

It appears from Rashi that Noach was obliged to feed each animal exactly on time and so was punished when he did not.

We are also obliged to feed any animals that we own so that they do not go hungry.

The passuk says in Shema:
ונתתי עשב בשדך לבהמתך ואכלת ושבעת
"I will put grass in your field for your animals and you will eat and be satisfied."

The gemara in Berachos (40a) learns from here that a person is obliged to first feed their animals and only then can they eat themselves. So much so that even if a person has washed but not fed his animals, he can interrupt between washing and making hamotzi to tell someone to feed them:

רב ששת אמר אפילו גביל לתורי נמי אינו צריך לברך דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב אסור לאדם שיאכל קודם שיתן מאכל לבהמתו שנא' (דברים יא) ונתתי עשב בשדך לבהמתך והדר ואכלת ושבעת
“Rav Sheshes said even if you said ‘Give food to the ox’ between washing and saying hamotzi you do not need to make another beracha because Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav ‘It is assur for a person to eat before they give food to their animal as it says ונתתי עשב בשדך לבהמתך – I will give grass in your fields for your animals - and only then ואכלת ושבעת – and you will eat and be satisfied.’”

Reb Yaakov Emden z”l was asked (שאלת יעב״ץ שאלה י״ז) if this halacha applies to dogs and cats.
He says that there are three reasons to say that cats and dogs are included in this halacha:
  1. Cats and dogs are included in the word לבהמתך because חיה is included in the term בהמה.
  2. Although the gemara says in Bava Kamma that you have to kill cats, this only applies to feral cats that could harm or kill someone.
  3. Although the mitzva of feeding animals only applies to animals that work, Rav Yaakov Emden says that cats and dogs work, as cats catch mice and dogs guard the house. He also says that any species which can do any work is included in this mitzva. For example, fish can be harnessed to pull a boat (Bava Kamma 55a) therefore this chiyuv applies to fish. In shaalah 110 he says this limitation only excludes insects, which can never be put to work.
Nevertheless his conlusion is that there is no chiyuv to feed cats and dogs before you eat, because the reason for this halacha is tzaar baalei chayim, the animals will have nothing to eat if you do not feed them. This does not apply to cats and dogs as they will always find something to eat even if their owner does not attend to them.

However he does say that it is the correct thing to feed them first even although there is no chiyuv.

Rabbi Menashe Klein z"l was asked if this chiyuv applies to fish in an aquarium (חלק ו' סימן רט״ז). He says that the basis of this halcha is tzaar baalei chayim and that there is proof that tzar baalei chayim applies to fish from the gemara in Bava Kamma דף נ״ה עמוד א' :
בעי רחבה המנהיג בעיזא ושיבוטא מהו מי אמרינן כיון דעיזא לא נחית בים ושיבוטא לא סליק ליבשה לא כלום עביד או דלמא השתא מיהת קא מנהיג מתקיף לה רבינא אלא מעתה חיבר חטה ושעורה בידו וזרע חטה בארץ ושעורה בחוצה לארץ הכי נמי דמחייב אמרי הכי השתא התם ארץ מקום חיובא חוצה לארץ לא מקום חיובא הכא אידי ואידי חיובא הוא:
“Rachvoh asked, if someone harnesses a goat and a fish together (the goat is on the beach and the fish is in the sea) is this assur because of kilayim? Do we say because the goat does not go in the sea and the fish does not come on to the land that this is mutar or perhaps we say that he is leading them together so this is assur.

Ravina asked, if you are going to say this is assur, then if someone sowed a barley grain in Eretz Yisroel next to a wheat grain over the border in Chutz la’Aretz this should also be assur?

They said, this is no comparison; there is no issur to plant kilai zeraim in chutz la’aretz, but harnessing kilayim is assur in both the sea and on land.”

Rashi explains:
אידי ואידי חיובא הוא: אם היה מנהיג ספינה בים בשני דגים של שני מינים חייב דהא דרשינן למינהו למינהו מיבשה
“If he pulled a ship with two fish of different species he would be chayav because we make a gezera shaveh from animals that go on the land.”

We see from here that there is an issur of being manhig kilayim with fish.

The Chinuch explains that the reason for the issur of being manhig kilayim is because of tzaar baalei chayim (מצוה תק"נ):
מטעמי מצוה זו ענין צער בעלי חיים שהוא אסור מן התורה. וידוע שיש למיני הבהמות ולעופות דאגה גדולה לשכון עם שאינם מינן וכל שכן לעשות עמהן מלאכה. וכמו שאנו רואים בעינינו באותן שאינם תחת ידינו כי כל עוף למינו ישכון. וכל הבהמות ושאר המינין גם כן ידבקו לעולם במיניהן

“One of the reasons for this mitzva is tzaar baalei chayim. Animals get very worried when they have to live with animals from a different species and all the more so if they have to work with them. Similarly we see that birds and animals in their natural habitat stick with their own type.”

According to the Chinuch, the issur of being manhig kilayim is because of tzaar baalei chayim. We know that the issur of being manhig kilayim applies to fish. Therefore, according to the Chinuch, the issur of tzaar baalei chayim must apply to fish.

Rabbi Menashe Klein z"l therefore says:
The reason for feeding animals before you eat is tzaar baalei chayim, therefore since we know that the issur of tzaar baalei chayim applies to fish, the chiyuv to feed animals before you eat must also apply to pet fish.


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