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Related Does one have to feed his dog, parrot, or goldfish before eating according to this Gemara?

The gemara in Gittin 62A teaches that one should feed his animals before he, himself eats. I have seen others who write that the care of an animal including feeding it satisfies tza'ar ba'alei chayim.

As the feeding of the animal is elevated to the role of "mitzvah" (that is, the fulfilling of an halachic obligation) does the food used get elevated in its sanctity as well (having been used for a mitzvah)?

As a practical application, my 4 minim, having been used for a mitzvah on Sukkot, have to be treated with a certain level of respect, and according to some, should be used for a mitzvah. Can I feed my lulav to a cow, or my etrog to whatever animal eats etrogim because feeding is a mitzvah?

And does the food left in my dog's bowl, which I set aside to be used to feed him (thus it was established there for the sake of a mitzvah) need to be disposed of in a particular manner because it has been elevated through its use for a mitzvah?

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  • We say something becomes a תשמישי מצוה when it was used for a מצוה. We would have to investigate if this applies to all halachos. I would be very surprised. For example, the Mishnah Berurah says one shouldn't cut their tzitzis if they're too long with a knife, but should rather use their teeth to cut it. Would one's teeth therefore become תשמישי מצוה?
    – robev
    Oct 24, 2021 at 14:33
  • Is cutting them a mitzvah? (one also wonders if one should make a bracha before feeding an animal...)
    – rosends
    Oct 24, 2021 at 14:46
  • No, but your question was about the fulfilling of an halachic obligation. If one wants to cut their tzitzis, the halacha obligates using one's teeth
    – robev
    Oct 24, 2021 at 14:47
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    @rosends I concede your point. New example: Bedikas Chametz. One must use a candle. Can I use that candle for chol? Although, that's a Rabbinic obligation. I need to think of a post-Chazal "obligation".
    – robev
    Oct 24, 2021 at 15:24
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    Tzaar baalei chaim is a prohibition. Do we ever call something we use to avoid a prohibition a cheftza shel mitzvah? Oct 24, 2021 at 17:35

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In regards to your second question, there is a fundemental difference between a lulav and the left over food. Namely, your lulav itself was sued for a mitzvah, whereas the leftover food was not. It may of been set aside for a mitzvah, but was never actually used since in the end it was not eaten.

Same can be said for left over matzah or maror, food from seudas mitzvah etc. In fact the same is said for leftover oil of shabbos candles as well as other left overs of a mitzvah. Since in the end they were not actually used, but only set aside, they are permitted to be used as normal. Unless the person had in mind to dedicate the entire amount to the mitzvah even if it would not be needed, in which case it would be assur.

Tosfos in Shabbos 44A mentions this as the reason we do not use the leftover oil of Chanuka while we do use the leftover from Shabbos and even leftover from Succos. He explains that the difference is that by Chanuka the person specifically wants to dedicate it all out of his love for this mitzvah, whereas by the other cases, if it is not needed he does not mean to dedicate it.

שבנר ושבקערה אסור ור' שמעון מתיר - ואחר השבת מותר אפי' לר' יהודה וה"נ תניא לקמן גבי נויי סוכה אסור להסתפק מהן עד מוצאי י"ט האחרון אבל בתר הכי שרי וקשה לר"י דמ"ש מנר חנוכה דתניא כבה ליל ראשון מוסיף עליו בליל ב' ומדליק בו כבה ליל ח' עושה לו מדורה בפני עצמו מפני שהוקצה למצותו ואומר ר"י דנר חנוכה עיקרו לא להנאתו בא אלא לפרסומי ניסא ומשום חביבותא דנס אינו מצפה שיכבה אלא מקצה לגמרי למצוה אבל נר שבת להנאתו בא יושב ומצפה שיכבה ולכך מותר

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