Why did animals need to eat/be fed for a year in the Ark?

"Oh, because they need to eat", you'd say, but really the Mabul was one big miracle, overriding all laws of nature - physics, geology, zoology, biology, genetics and whatnot.

Why in this huge miracle did animals need to eat? This problem was easily "circumvented" for the Israelites in the desert with Mannah. This "natural behavior" actually caused more additional miracles to be performed - miraculous preparing of the food for all animals, miraculous feeding, taking care of poop etc.

Why couldn't G-d simply stop them from eating for a year?

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    This question could be improved by adding sources 1) that the animals did eat 2) for the miracles that occurred to allow this 3) for the other flood-related miracles. Nov 2, 2019 at 23:39
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    The rule is we generally try to 'minimize' a miracle as much as possible. Why should this be any different? Nov 3, 2019 at 1:19
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    So Noach could have merit enough for his offspring to be permitted to eat their meat. If the animals had just survived miraculously the right to eat meat could have been questionable Nov 3, 2019 at 1:30
  • Simply put, animals actually need to eat. So why isn't it a miracle? For the Exodus, it was the mana. The flood, it was the arc. They each served their own special purpose. Noah and Moshe had to account for logistics. But if the flood was local to Mesopotamia, Noah can easily pack grains and other foods. The only time G-d needs to perform miracles is to imagine a flood where millions of animals cannot be raised, bred and cared for, however, if we assume it was local, you can easily imagine Noah feeding hundreds of animals.
    – Jonathan
    Nov 3, 2019 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


R Ari Wasserman explains the ark was a "chesed school" and that feeding animals became the mechanism to teach Noah and his family a value which would be fundamental to the new world being created.

As Chazal tell us, feeding all these creatures was a full-time, round-the clock job, as some were nocturnal, some ate more often than others, etc. Noach and co.’s constant giving was part of Hashem’s rehab program for humanity.

As Rabbi Mordechai Gifter explains, Hashem created the world solely to bestow chesed and to enable man to do likewise. But Noach’s generation couldn’t manage it. Either people rejected chesed altogether, committing violent crimes, or – along with the animals – they perverted this precious value by engaging in forbidden relationships. Their inability to live in harmony destroyed the world. To rebuild it, humankind had to become humankind, mastering chesed anew.

That’s what Noach and his family did aboard the ark. Aside from protecting them from the flood, this craft served as a floating chesed academy in which they learned to work together and give unstintingly. Only after “graduation” were they permitted to exit the ark and embark on the sacred task of reconstructing the world. (Pirkei Torah, parshas Noach)

  • I enjoyed this answer because it not only provided a "how" but a "reason" to feed the animals. I would add that the Chazal's message is in line with the last 7th law of Noah. That is to say, that it commands us not only to have respect for fellow humans but also show respect for animals, for they too have feelings. In short Chazal, as well as the Noahide laws, teach morality and respect.
    – Jonathan
    Nov 3, 2019 at 8:32
  • Thank you, Musar-wise it's a great lesson +1! Albeit factually irrelevant I think as many Mussar interpretations. Noah was already a Tzaddik, nowhere else G-d spoke or asked or commanded about Chessed and nowhere else did he or his sons practiced Chessed. Gentiles have no Chessed Mitzvahs IMHO.
    – Al Berko
    Nov 3, 2019 at 16:03
  • To Al Berko, you write that "nowhere... did he... practiced Chessed", but Rashi states: and only Noah…survived: אַךְ means “only” Noah. This is its simple meaning, but the Midrash Aggadah (Tan. Noach 9) [states]: He was groaning and spitting blood because of the burden [of caring for] the cattle and the beasts, and some say that HE DELAYED FEEDING THE LION, and it struck him, and concerning him it is said (Prov. 11:31): “Behold a righteous man is requited [for his sins] in this world.” - [Tan. Noach 9]
    – user16403
    Nov 3, 2019 at 22:17

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