No Animals Were Harmed

Brian of London here again. I came across the attached newspaper clipping on Facebook but it brought up an interesting point about Judaism and hunting.

Did you know that Judaism forbids hunting for sport? Jews can hunt, but only for food and only when hunting for food is done in such a way as to cause the least pain possible. There is an understanding that hunting is only carried out when it is necessary for survival.

There’s a nice summary of how Judaism treats animals at the Jew FAQ.

11 thoughts on “No Animals Were Harmed”

  1. Judaism does discourage hunting, but as you say it is permitted for food (and furs, and any other utility). And causing unnecessary (emphasis on "unnecessary") pain to animals is prohibited. But this is a prohibition for Jews only. To expand this beyond Jews strikes me as a form of religious hegemony I would not support. In fact, even in Israel I think this is carrying "K'fiyah Datit" too far.

    It is interesting to note thast until recently, Christendom had no such concept. Now that they've picked it up, it's been turned against us.

    I did not have time to study the article closely, but Judaism works through obligations, not rights (except for an expanded version of property rights, which animals do not have), so it is hard to apply the concept. Interestingly, it is quite possible that it is not considered cruelty to kill an animal, although it could violate the prohibition on wanton destruction.

    I do not see where we would have a problem with clubbing baby seals, for example. althoguh it would not be a recommended profession, because of the effect on the person.

    1. My understanding is that man has dominion over the animals: if we need to kill them, we can. There are various ways to justify it and I'm sure Jim's examples are all probably acceptable too.

      I agree with you completely: these are rules for Jews. It's not our place in the world to tell non Jews what to do but if they torture kittens, I'm not going to stand by and watch.

      Obligations not rights is also supper important: I've always thought that Israel should have an obligation to receive Jews rather than granting Jews a right to return. The former is much more Jewish!

  2. Any prohibition against culling a deer herd to reduce deer strikes by automobiles or prevent widespread starvation due to overgrazing? Or killing coyotes and wolves in response to predation of domestic herds of sheep and cattle? And what if you actually feel pleasure in anticipation of the hunt and executing the actual kill shot (watch any hunting show and you'll know what I mean). I don't think the paucity of Jewish hunters is strictly religious. It's cultural as well. How many Jewish rodeo stars? hog-calling contest blue ribbon winners? Country-Western singers? grand wizards of the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan?

    1. When my father gave me my first golf club at the age of 3 he was sure I'd break the run of bad form and give us a great Jewish professional golfer. Alas.

    2. The first two sound like good ideas. Putting animals ahead of people is very anti-Jewish. (The first does affect people; dead animals and animals in the road are dangerous, and managing a food herd sounds like a good idea.)

      It is also cultural-religious. The idea of hunting is considered negative among Jews, particulaly since the famous Bilbical hunters (Esau and Nimrod) were villians. But it may also come from the fact that Jews could often not serve in the military; the reationale for "hunting for sport" is training for fighting. We consider bullfighting rather sick because off "all of the above". Please note that Jewish culture historically IS the religion, as per the famous sociological study of Eastern European Jewry, "Life is with People".

      Please note that the issue is more because it has a bad effect on a person's character, than concern for the animal. still, "His mercies al on all of his creatures".

  3. Hunting is forbidden in Judaism, not just for sport, but in general. Of course, if you are starving and will die unless you hunt, then of course it is permitted, because one is allowed to break any mitzvah (except for murder, idolatry and sexual sins) to save a life, including your own. More information is available on the website of Jewish Vegetarians of North American — a very good organization.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top