Jewish Animal Ethics

Aaron S. Gross

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199736065
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Jewish Animal Ethics

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This chapter discusses Jewish animal ethics, describing a central concept, tza'ar ba'alei hayyim, the ban on causing undue pain to animals, and the varying justifications for that ban. Some of these justifications focus on how compassion for animals will benefit human beings, including human moral character, and others assert the inherent value of animals in and of themselves. The chapter also discusses how the prohibition against causing animals pain is balanced in Jewish sources by human need, a balance that affects not only our use of animals but also Jewish rules regarding eating their flesh, with a persistent minority strain which urges vegetarianism. It then turns to two responsibilities that humans have to animals according to the Jewish tradition—to preserve compassion toward them and to guard them from abuse produced by economic motives. In general, Jews are required to provide animals with both a good life and a good death; this goes against many of the methods used in modern factory farming.

Keywords: Jewish ethics; animal welfare; animal care; animal protection

Article.  6524 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religious Studies

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