Food, Shabbos, Yom Tov, Pesach, Business
Pets and Animals
this article draws from an excellent essay by Rabbi Zvi Goldberg, Star-K
Gd has indicated in His Torah His concern that we must be mindful of the needs of animals. We must not cause needless pain or anguish to animals. Animals, whilst they are threshing, must be free to eat. Tradition relates that the selection of Moshe Rabbenu as leader of the Jewish People was a consequence of his exceptional concern and care for his sheep. Gd is also commands us to not forget our animals' needs whilst we tend to our own.
Although our animals need not eat kosher food, Halacha clearly instructs us regarding what, how and when to feed them.
The Talmud Yerushalmi [Kesuvos 4:8] states that before acquiring an animal, one must be sure he can properly provide for it.
Meat and Milk Mixtures
It is permissible to derive benefit from non-kosher foods and we may therefore, feed non-kosher foods to our animals. [See Exodus 22:30, Shach Y.D. 117:3, Aruch Hashulchan 117:19, and Igros Moshe Y.D. 117]
However, we may not benefit from cooked meat and milk mixtures. [The Torah on three separate occasions states the prohibition against cooking meat with milk which the Gemara [Chulin 115b] explains, teaches that cooking, eating, and benefiting are all independently forbidden. Our Sages [Rama Y.D87:1] expanded the prohibition of eating but not of benefitting, to include uncooked combinations]
There is a dispute about the definition of benefit, thus one may certainly not feed his own pet as he gains the benefit of saving the expense of feeding it other food. Accordingly, feeding stray animals cooked meat and milk mixtures is permitted. [Gra cited in ShaAr HaTziyun O.C. 448:75 - Chometz may not be fed to stray animals due to its stringency, but meat and milk mixtures may be fed to them]
Others prohibit feeding strays since that pleases him. [Taz Y.D. 94:4, cited by M.B. 448:28]
Dog and Cat Food
Combinations of meat and milk that are permitted by Torah Law but that our Sages have prohibited, may be used to gain benefit. Therefore, only beef, lamb or goat cooked with milk of those species may not be fed to our pets. Y.D. 87. [Meat is from a Kosher species which is a Neveila, is not prohibited by Torah Law according to the Rambam and may be fed to our pets. Our custom however, is to follow those who are strict in this matter. See Pischei Teshuva 87:6]
It is unclear whether baked or fried combinations of meat and milk is Biblically or Rabbinically prohibited - Poskim are strict in this matter. See Pischel Teshuva 87:3 and Gra 87:1. Aruch Hashulchan Y.D. 87:25 writes that steamed mixtures are forbidden MiSafek.
Relying on Labelling
Star K assert that when the government strictly regulates pet food labelling, we may rely on the labelling to avoid transgressing the prohibition of benefiting from cooked combinations of meat and milk.
Badei Hashulchan 87:75 asserts that casein and whey are dairy (although others disagree, SEE) and animal fat is considered meat.
We are forbidden to possess, eat or derive benefit from Chometz of the five grains, wheat, barley, spelt, oats and rye, during Pesach. Therefore pet foods used during Pesach must not contain any of these grains or their components in any form: cracked, ground, germ, gluten, ground, grouts, middlings or starch.
Gravy or sauce generally contain chometz. Pet food for Pesach may be manufactured with equipment that has been used for Chometz since there is no benefit to the owner from the chometz taste. [O.Ch. 550:7]
Kitniyos, legumes, such as rice and beans, may be fed to animals even though they are not eaten by Ashkenazic Jews during Pesach.
Buying After Pesach
Our Sages forbade eating or deriving benefit from Chometz that was in the possession of a Jew during Pesach. Therefore, after Pesach, Chometz products must be acquired from a store owned by a gentile or from a Jewish-owned store that properly sold the Chometz before Pesach.
Giving Pets to a Non-Jew for Pesach
One may not leave his pet with a non-Jew during Pesach if it will be fed Chometz. However, it is permitted if non-chometz food is provided, or if strict instructions are left that non-Chometz foods be used.
Alternatively, the animal may be sold to a non-Jew and removed from the Jew's property. This also seems to be the common strategy to avoid the Biblical prohibition of rendering one's animals sterile.
It is not necessary to provide a Pesach food bowl for your pet.
The bowl, cage and living area used year-round must be thoroughly cleaned of Chometz before Pesach.
When visiting zoos or petting farms we may not purchase or even touch the animal feed since in many cases it is Chomets.
Chomets pet food must be sold as with Chometz human food.
Kitniyos, legumes such as rice and beans, may be fed to animals on Pesach.
Vitamins or minerals in pet food are not a concern since the small amount of Chometz that may be in them is Battel.
Pet Food as a Business
Although food that is prohibited by the Torah, such as pork or improperly slaughtered beef, may not be traded as a business [Y.D. 117] Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l explains that this does not apply to pet food since it is not for human consumption [Igros Moshe YD 2:37.24]
Feeding Animals First
The Gemara [Brochos 40a] states that before eating one must ensure his animals are fed. This halacha applies to all animals including fish, if they depend on a human for food. Some authorities interpret this as a true DeOraisa, Biblical command, while most understand this to be DeRabonon, Rabbinical in nature [Beiur Halacha 167:6]
The obligation is that one must at all times be aware of the needs of his animals, particularly before one satisfies his own needs. This duty can be discharged by delegating someone responsible for this task. And it goes without saying that even if one is fasting, the needs of his pets must be attended to. [Piskei Teshuvos 176:108]
Even if one is in the midst of a religious ritual and not permitted to interrupt, as is the case when the Brocha has been said but one has not yet eaten, one must interrupt to instruct that the animals be fed. [O.C. 167:6]
Children, the elderly and the infirm who are incapable of feeding themselves must be attended to first. [Igros Moshe O.C. 2:52]
Food Fit for Humans
Although the Gemara and Poskim rule that food fit for human consumption must not be fed to animals [Taanis 20b, cited in Magen Avrohom 171:1] prevailing custom permits this [Machatzis Hashekel O.C. 171:1] It seems that the Shulchan Aruch did not codify this as Halacha as he understood that there is convincing opposing opinion.
There is a special significance associated with the piece of bread over which one recited the Brocha of Hamotzi and therefore, ought not be fed to animals. [M.B. 167: 97 quoting the ShaLah] Some extend a similar status to all food brought to the table which is after all, compared to the MizBaYach, the altar. [Reishis Chochma (ShaAr HaKedusha 15:40), Kaf Hachaim 167:141. The Ben Ish Chai (Emor 1) permits feeding table remnants to Kosher animals.
All this is an incentive to not waste food. If however the food will be trashed it is certainly better to rather feed animals with it.
Feeding Animals on Shabbos or Yom Tov
Although feeding animals is deemed to be an unnecessary effort and therefore prohibited on Shabbos and Yom Tov, those animals dependant upon us for their food, and those that are clearly in need of food, must be cared for on Shabbos and Yom Tov. [Aruch Hashulchan 324:2; ShA O.C. 324:11, see Beiur Halacha] Dogs however, may be fed in all circumstances either because it is more difficult for them to find food, or in gratitude to their assistance whilst we fled Egypt during the Exodus. [Mishna Berura 324:31]
When feeding animals on Shabbos and Yom Tov, minimum effort must be exerted. We may not cut meat into smaller pieces if it can be eaten as larger pieces. [M.B. 324:3] Unless absolutely necessary for the animal, we may not carry or cook for an animal during Yom Tov. [ShA O.C. 512:3]
Many Poskim maintain that all animals, eve our own pets, are Muktzeh. However, many argue that just as stones, Muktzeh MachMass Gufam, can be designated prior to Shabbos for use during Shabbos and are thereby not Muktzeh, so too are pets designated and not Muktzeh.
Customs at Odds with Halacha
There is a long standing custom which defies this Halacha, whereby food is provided for wild birds on Shabbos Shira in recognition of their assistance whilst we were in the wilderness. According to some they sang of HaShem's glory after He split the Reed Sea, according to others they ate the Manna which had been put out by Dasan and Aviram, thus removing their pretext to defy Moshe Rabbenu. Aruch Hashulchan O.C. 324:3 and Tosfos Shabbos defend this practice; the Mishneh Berurah 324:31, prefers it is abandoned.
There is a similar discussion regarding the tradition of feeding the fish during Tashlich on Rosh Hashana.
In conclusion, Halacha directs us in all matters thereby sanctifying the mundane, and guiding us towards a responsible and meaningful relationship with our Creator through our daily and ordinary activities.
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