Is there Tzar Balay Chaim for Fish?

  • Went to Google for my question here, found this online....I was going to ask a new question, but figured I'd check if it was asked first. Thanks!
    – MTL
    Nov 24, 2014 at 1:52

3 Answers 3

  • In SHU"T(questions and answers) Siach Yitchok(יור''ד סימן שפ''ז)
  • SHU"T Pikudas Elezer(סימן ס''ז)

In reference to scaling the fish while alive he answers NO.He brings a proof from a Pri Megadim in the name of the Chinuch that the reason that Schechting needs a knife with no blemishes is because of Tzar Balay Chaim and since fish do not require Shechting it must be that there is no Tzar Balay Chaim for fish.

The Beis Yehudah(ביור''ד סימן י''ג)adds his own proof that everyone says you can cut a piece of fish when it is alive and no one says it is Tzar Balay Chaim therefore it must be there is no Tzar Balay Chaim for Fish.


Pischei Teshuva YD 28:10 quotes noda bihudah that TBC only applies when keeping the animal alive.

  • No one really see it anymore but when you go to a fish store they used to do these things as the fish was still Jumping around when the cut and scaled it. Plus these teshovous indicated it also: "in reference to scaling the fish while alive" and for Beis Yehuda "cut a piece of fish when it is alive" Jun 20, 2010 at 13:39
  • BTW, years ago at my grandparent's house I once saw a show that featured gross videos. One was of a Chinese family eating from a fish that was still alive. The point of this non-Torah show was to show how gross it was in that they purposely used techniques to keep the fish alive on the table while they all pulled flesh from it. It seems according to the NB that this is really tzaar baalei hayim after all.
    – Yahu
    Jun 20, 2010 at 18:43
  • And this is a common practice in certain areas of China!
    – Yahu
    Jun 20, 2010 at 18:43
  • If you do not believe me and you have a strong stomach here's a video of it: youtube.com/watch?v=ivstO1Nv0rY
    – Yahu
    Jun 22, 2010 at 3:13
  • 1
    Your morbid description of the process seems to have a bal t'shaktzu element. (I didn't mean your description, I meant the actions of the fish eaters.) I don't think the NB would say Tzaar Baalei Chayim, though. Does this mean I won't see you at this year's crawfish boil?
    – YDK
    Jun 23, 2010 at 5:32

There is someone on the other side of this argument I will not go in Depth but just a taste.It seems the SHU"T Mishanh Halachos(חלק ו' סימן רט''ו) says there is Tzar Balay Chaim for Fish. His proof is from the Gemara in Baba Kama which says two types of fish you can not Plow or use for your wagon with them and the Chinuch (Mitzvahתק''ז )says the reason for not putting to types of animals together to ride or plow is because of Tzar Balay Chaim it must be there is Tzar Balay Chaim by fish. Another proof could be That it says in the Gemara Beitzah that you do not give fish food on Yom Tov Rashi explains because they eat roots of the underwater plants and other things in the water and the Darchei Moshe (באור''ח סימן תצ''ז)says if the are in a bowl where there is no Plants or other things to eat it would seem you are responsible to feed them on Yom Tov. It must be because of Tzar Balay Chaim thefore again it would seem there is Tzar Balay Chaim by Fish. Choose your answer and vote it up and see who wins(;

  • You just proved YDK correct twice so this answer should be a comment (albeit a long one) on YDK's answer!
    – Yahu
    Jun 30, 2010 at 1:59

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