Ask the Rabbi

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Actions and Appliances on Shabbat

Shabbat and saving the life of a pet


Rabbi David Sperling

Sivan 1, 5775
Shalom dear Rabbi, I had a memory of reading (maybe I do not remember correctly) somewhere that it is allowed to also violate Torah prohibitions on Shabbat in order to save the life of an animal. I understand that according to the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch, there it is not permitted, but I wanted to ask if there is any opinion according to which it is permitted. (in other words, is there an opinion that if indeed there was an issue of saving the life of a pet, it would be permitted to set aside Torah prohibitions on Shabbat for this purpose) The situation in my case is that it is about a pet that unfortunately injured himself from time to time and some of the activities in question would be to drive by car to the 24/7 veterenary clinic (and quite possibly to leave the boundaries of the city) Thank you in advance
Shalom, Thank you for your question. You are correct in stating that it is forbidden to break Shabbat in order to safe the life of an animal (See Mishna Brurah, 332,6). I am not aware of any opinions that permit this. In fact, even to break Rabbinic law for an animal is very limited (see Shmirat Shabbat KeHilchatah, 27, 54-57), allowing moving the animal (even though it is mukzah), moving forbidden objects for the animal (even though they are mukzah items), and giving the animal medicines etc. However, it is permitted to request from a non-Jew that they do everything needed for an animal that is suffering or ill (see Mishna Brurah ibid). This is allowed even if the animal is not in a life or death situation – but even just to relieve its pain. This leniency (to ask a non-Jew to perform even Torah forbidden acts for the sake of the animal) was instituted because of the lofty principle of concern for the suffering of animals (tza'ar ba'alai chaim). So – in your case, you could have lifted the pet up, and carried it (where there is a Shabbat eruv) to a non-Jewish vet, or even have asked a non-Jewish neighbor to drive the animal to a non-Jewish vet for care. Blessings.
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר