Kindness to Animals
By Rav Micha Golshevsky
In Parshas Noach we find that Noach fed the animals in the ark a full solar year. But why did the flood last so long? The Midrash explains that Noach and his family were spared during the flood in the merit of this perpetual kindness.
The Midrash states that sometimes people are protected in the merit of the animals in their city. This is the meaning of the verse that “Hashem delivers man and beast.”
The Yad Efraim explains a well known halachah with this midrash. “Now we understand why one must feed his animals before himself. Even if a city is wicked its very survival can sometimes be in the merit of the innocent animals who dwell there!”
The Klausenberger Rebbe once remarked. “Our sages say that Hashem has mercy on those who show mercy to the briyos, to Hashem’s creations. It does not say one who has mercy on mankind, but rather on creations or creatures. Showing compassion for one’s animals arouses Hashem’s compassion on us even if we have sinned and are ‘hardly better than animals.’”
Rav David Feigels would carry a sack of different types of foods suitable for different species of birds from one courtyard to the next, just so that he could ensure that the birds were well fed throughout the cold winters. Many people in his area kept fowl, but assumed that they would just forage for themselves throughout the year. The Shomer Emunim would comment about this: “When it starts to freeze and the snow is on the ground, how are the animals and birds to forage? If their owners don’t feed them, and they are confined to their pens or their yards, then one should certainly provide for them!”
The Chazon Ish once spotted a non-kosher animal that had fallen into a deep ditch. The animal tried with all its might to climb out of the rut without success. The gadol was then with a group of people who seemed to look on the situation with resignation. They all just shrugged, as if to say, “What can we do?”
The Chazon Ish truly took the poor animal’s pain to heart. Without waiting for assistance from the others, he approached the pit and lowered himself down into it. Those with him could barely believe their eyes. The Chazon Ish actually carried the animal out of the ditch in his arms to set it free.