By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
The posuk in Parshas Noach, Perek Vov, posuk chof alef says that Hashem commanded Noach to take all kinds of food into the ark for “you and the animals to eat.” It would seem from this posuk that man should eat before his animal. We see later on in the parsha; in Perek Zayin, posuk chof gimmel, that it says, “Ach Noach.” Noach was bitten by the lion because he was delayed in bringing the lion his food. The Aishel Avraham in siman kuf samech zayin, seif vov explains that Noach was punished because he ate first which resulted in being delayed in feeding the lion hereby causing Noach to be bitten. We need some clarity in reconciling these two posukim.
The Shulchan Aruch in siman kuf samech zayin, seif vov says that one is not allowed to speak in between saying the bracha of Hamotzie and the eating of the bread. If one spoke in between, one would need to make the bracha again. However, there is an exception to this. If one said, “Feed the animal,” it would be a permissible hefsek, and he/she would not have to say the bracha again.
There is a machlokes whether feeding the animal first is a Mitzva De’Oraisa or just a Mitzva De’Rabbonon. The Magen Avraham says it is a De’Oraysa and the Shvus Yaakov and the Mishna Berura hold that it is Mi’De’Rabbonon.
The Yaavetz explains that the reason why one needs to feed the animal first is so as not to be oveir on Tzaar Baalei Chaim. The animal is dependent upon the human so we don’t want the person forgetting to feed the animal hereby causing the animal to die. According to this reasoning there would be no difference between drinking and eating. The animal should get both first. This is the opinion of the Chasam Sofer.
The Yad Efraim gives another reason why one should feed the animals first. A person only gets his food in the z’chus of his feeding the animals. The midrash in Perek Lamed Gimmel says that the posuk says, “Adam U’vheima toshia Hashem” – the person gets helped because he feeds animals. This would apply to food only since the animal can find water anywhere so the animal is not dependent upon the person for water. Therefore, a person may drink before his animal gets to drink. The Magen Avraham brings this halacha down in the name of the Sefer Chassidim regarding man drinking the animal.
There is a lot to elaborate concerning these Halachos and perhaps we will write more about it in the future. But to reconcile the posukim, one has to know that when it comes to preparing food, the halacha is Chayecha Kodmin; one has to prepare his own food first and also quench one’s thirst or hunger first. Tzaar Baalei Chaim does not come before the tzaar of a person, hence the reason we are allowed to eat and kill animals. Once a person is not starving, then the person must feed his animals first. That is why when Hashem told Noach to bring food, it was for the humans first. Noach should have taken a quick drink, then fed the animals and then gone back to his meal. Since he did not do that he was punished.
The Torah does give animals rights, but only after the Human has his rights!
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