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Jewish Humane Education Kit
Lesson II: Backup Material Biblical Stories


  

  

  

 
 

Backup Material: Contents

Lesson I Backup

Lesson II Backup

Lesson III Backup

Lesson IV Backup

Lesson V & VI Backup

Lesson VII Backup

Lesson VIII Backup

Lesson IX Backup

 

 


Judaism & Animals

 

 

 

Theme

Judaism recognizes that animals feel physical pain, and we are forbidden to inflict it.

  

  

Balaam

After the Exodus, when the Jews who had wandered 40 years in the desert  were about to cross into the Promised Land, they camped first in the plains of Moab. The Moabites thought of the Jews as enemies, and sent their "prophet" Balaam to curse them.

 

Balaam set out one morning on his donkey for the Jews' camp, but God put an angel with a sword in his path. Balaam didn't see the angel, but the donkey did, and she turned off the road into the field.

 

Balaam beat the donkey three times with his stick to try to force her back onto the road, but it was no use. After the third beating, the donkey said to Balaam, "What have I done to cause you to beat me three times?" Balaam replied, "Because you made a fool of me. If I had my sword in my hand I would kill you now."

 

The donkey said, "Aren't I your donkey that you've ridden ever since you owned me? Did I ever mock you?" And Balaam had to confess that the donkey had not.

 

Then God opened Balaam's eyes and he saw the angel with his sword, whom God had sent against him. The angel said, "Why did you beat your donkey three times? Do you realize that had she not turned off the road when she saw me, I would have killed you and saved her?"

 

Balaam then understood he had done wrong. When he came to the camp of the Jews, instead of cursing them, he blessed them.

Numbers, Chapter 22:21-34

 

 

Rabbi Yehuda the Hassid

In Germany in the Middle Ages, nobles fought battles and also took part in mock battles called "jousts" — all on horseback. To make the horses gallop faster they used spurs — sharp wheels on their boots that dug into the animals' flesh. Many cowboys still use them today. Rabbi Yehuda the Hassid ("the Pious") who lived in the 12th Century, warned Jews who rode horses — the only means of transportation then — against using spurs because they were cruel to animals. (See Spurs.)

 

 

Rabbi Velvel

One day, Rabbi Velvel, a Hassidic leader who lived in the Polish town of Zabriz, was riding in a wagon. The driver started to whip the horses to make them run faster.

 

Rabbi Velvel pitied the unfortunate animals. He said to the driver, "Don't hit the horses! It causes them pain!" The driver replied that he was only using the whip to chase away the flies who were bothering the horses.

 

Rabbi Velvel told him, "So take my handkerchief and use it to chase away the flies, but don't use the whip." The driver, outsmarted by the rabbi, had no choice but to stop hitting the horses.

 

 

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