Sign up to TorahFax


Thursday, Iyar 17, 5781 (32nd day of the Omer)/ April 29, 2021


One of the mitzvot in this week's Parsha, Emor, is the prohibition to slaughter a cow and her calf on the same day. It applies when slaughtering the animals to eat or for a sacrifice in the Holy Temple.


One might think that this is due to the Torah prohibition not to cause suffering to any animal and having the calf killed together with the mother is great torture for the animal.  However, this prohibition applies even when the calf is not slaughtered in front of its mother.  


Q.  What is the reason behind this prohibition?


A.  According to the Holy Zohar, the reason for this prohibition is so that we ourselves should not become insensitive and develop bad character traits.


Our sages tell us that one of the character traits in which the Jewish people excel is mercy ("Rachmanut").  The Talmud says that one can identify a descendant of the Patriarch Abraham by the fact that he or she is merciful to others. 


The Torah prohibition of "Tzaar Baalei Chayim" - "Not to cause suffering to animals" is very strict.  The Torah commands us that when one sees an animal weighed down under a heavy load, that person must help to ease the animal's burden. Also, according to Jewish law, one is not permitted to eat before feeding their animals.  The animal must be fed first!


Our sages also say, "Whoever shows mercy for G-d's creatures will in turn cause heavenly mercy upon themselves.”  


Similarly, Rabbi Chayim Palagi says, “When a person is in distress or sick, he or she should make it a point to be kind to animals, like feeding birds or other animals.  Our mercy on G-d’s creation, invokes G-d's mercy upon us.


The Talmud tells a story about Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, compiler of the Mishna, that for many years he suffered great physical pain as a punishment for not coming to the aid of a calf that ran under his coat while being led to the slaughter house.


Then, one day when he saw the maid in the house chasing away little kittens, he ordered her to stop.  He told her that just like G-d's mercy is upon all His creation, so too, we must have mercy upon all creatures.  As a result of this kind act, Rabbi Yehuda's illness disappeared and his pain was gone.


Tonight, (Thursday night & Friday) is Lag B’Omer (33rd day of the Omer). It is a very important day in the Hebrew calendar. On this day, a plague which killed thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students, stopped. It is also the yartzeit of the saintly Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. In Israel and in the Diaspora, Covid permitting, people will be celebrating with parades, outings, picnics and bon fires to commemorate this special day.