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Bullfighting and Butterflies

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 17/5/2020

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Fascinating InsightsThe Sefer (in English)

Bullfighting and Butterflies

There are events and certain actions where we may feel there is no prohibition involved but yet it doesnt seem right. R Ovadia Yosef[1] was asked if it permitted from a Halachic standpoint to go to a stadium to watch bullfighting? He answered that there is no doubt that this is completely against the spirit of the Torah because this is the culture of sinners and cruel people, which is not in the portion of those who are from Yaakov. As the Gemara[2] says there are three identifying marks of a Jewmerciful, bashful and they do acts of kindnessWith bullfighting, they starve and pain the bull before he enters and after they incite himand we are taught it is forbidden for a person to eat before he gives food to his animal.[3] Also, the Gemara[4] relates that Rebbi once told his maidservant who was sweeping up baby weasels that were on the floor to leave them be and quoted the Pasuk , His mercy is upon all His creations.[5] They then said in heaven since he shows mercy, let us show mercy to himOne who enters a stadium to watch bullfighting and pays the entrance fee is a friend to a destructive person and is [6], assisting those who commit transgressionsTo go where people enjoy themselves on the cruelty of pain of animals implants that trait in the people who enjoy it and they destroy their soul. It is a Mitzva to publicize not to go to such places.


The Noda BYehuda[7] deals with the question if hunting is permitted. He says that there is no problem of Baal Tashchis and Tzaar Baalei Chaim.[8] However, in Torah, the only hunters we find are Nimrod and Esav,[9] and it is not the ways of the Avos. Why would a Jew unnecessarily kill an animal and waste his time? Going into a forest is dangerous since there are many animals there and thus if one goes there, he transgresses .[10] The expert hunter Esav said ...[11], meaning he was afraid of being with those animals. However, the Noda BYehuda does say that an who hunts for his sustenance is permitted to do so.


The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch[12] writes that the Torah forbids us to inflict suffering on any living creature. Furthermore, one is obligated to remove the suffering of any creature even if it is ownerless or belongs to a . However, if they are troublesome to people or if they are needed for medical purposes or any other purpose, it is permitted even to kill themTherefore it is permitted to pluck feathers from living geese to use as a quill if you have no other feather with which to write. However, people abstain from doing so because of cruelty.


 When horses pull a wagon and come to a rough road or a steep hill and cant draw it further without help, it is a Mitzva to help, even if they belong to a , because of the suffering of the animals, for fear that the will hit them harshly to force them to pull more than they are able.[13]

[1] Yechaveh Daas 3:66.

[2] Yevamos 79a.

[3] Brachos 40a.

[4] Baba Metzia 85a.

[5] Tehillim 145:9.

[6] See Gittin 61a and Avoda Zara 55a.

[7] Mahadura Tinyana, Yoreh Deah, 10.

[8] R Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler in Shut Avnei Yashfei (He was originally from Clevland and learned in Telz. A renowned Posek, he was a Rav in Romema in Yerushalayim. He published eleven Sefarim.) was asked concerning a butterfly that got caught in a spider web if it was a Mitzva to take the butterfly out because of Tzaar Baalei Chaim? He answered for various reasons that there is no Mitzva to save the butterfly. Among the reasons is that the nature of animals is that there are predators and prey. So just as if a lion attacks a deer, Tzaar Baalei Chaim doesnt mandate a person to save the deer, so too one doesnt need to save the butterfly,  since it is the nature of the world.

[9] Breishis 9:10 and 25:27.

[10] Devarim 4:15. See Rambam, Hilchos Rotzeach UShmiras Hanefesh, 12:6.

[11] Breishis 25:32.

[12] 191:1.

[13] Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 191:2. 

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