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Hunting is generally frowned on in Judaism, and hunting for sport is especially frowned on. However, as hunting is not completely assur, I had the following question: how exactly would a Jew hunt? Should one trap then shecht the animal? Is the sort of hunting I picture when I think of hunting: shooting at animals, allowed if one doesn't kill the animal with the shot?

How does the procedure for hunting differ if one doesn't intend to eat the animal?

I have never hunted and have no desire to hunt (and even if I did want to, I doubt I could in Manhattan). However, I am curious how exactly permitted hunting would work.

Please assume for the sake of argument that the hunter will not die if they don't kill the animal, so as to avoid any issues regarding the protection of life.

  • You can shoot the animal if you're not benefiting from it. That's how I always saw "hunting", like the squires 300 years ago – Shmuel Brin Jul 29 '14 at 0:44
  • Hello @Eliyahu-g. I think you ask an interesting question, one that I also wondered about. Here is one reference I found: chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1589324/jewish/… And another: aish.com/ci/be/…. I am not saying this with absolute certainty but I suspect the issue of shooting and then shechtering the animal would be similar to the controversial use of a taser which is not permissible. – JJLL Jul 29 '14 at 2:38
  • You know, I just thought of a different slant to this issue. Can a Jew hunt animals to actually help preserve the environment. Specifically when environmentalists have determined that an overpopulation of a particular animal can be harmful to the locale? – JJLL Jul 29 '14 at 2:44
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/29935 – msh210 Jul 29 '14 at 4:55
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    related issue: here is an article by Rabbi Slifkin about hawking and falconing in Jewish history and halacha – Jewels Jul 29 '14 at 11:51
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First stop to research this is Sanhedrin 95a where we apparently find Dovid Hamelech hunting. The Margolios Hayam there note 15 brings all the classical sources against this decidedly unjewish act. He started off the piece by explaining that Dovid's act of catching food is not hunting, hunting is an act of entertainment. Halachicaly, if one can aim right and shecht the animal with his arrow, as recorded in Chulin, that is totally kosher. So too, shooting below the knee in order to incapacitate the animal would not render it a treifa, which I do remember someone writing about David Hamelech's hunting adventure, but I can't remember where I saw that. Any other shot, even if not a 'kill shot' would make it unusable and therefore assur, unless of course the person has a need for the skin or blood. Another sugya that mentions trapping is in Bava Metzia 85b, there a net was used and the meat eaten and the skins used for writing sifrei torah. Also, Reb Yaakov Kaminetsky writes in the fifth chapter of his commentary on Pirkei Avos that killing a fly is as much murder as killing a human being. The difference is the Torah allowed the one but not the other. He was discussing people who want to be vegetarians.

  • Killing a creature for fun strikes me as a waste. – Bruce James Jul 29 '14 at 21:24
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The Noda B'Yehuda wrote a lengthy teshuva (Yoreh Deah, Teshuvah 10) addressing hunting.

1) Perhaps hunting is a violation of "צער בּעלי חיים" (causing suffering to creatures) or "בּעל תשׁחית" (unnecessary destruction)?

A: This would not be considered "causing suffering to creatures."
since that prohibition only refers to causing suffering to an animal while it is alive.

This would not be considered "unnecessary destruction"
a) This prohibition only applies to property that belongs to someone. In this case, we are talking about wild animals.

b) Furthermore, unnecessary destruction only applies only when there is no benefit as a result of the destruction. In this case, the hunter may use the skins, and so the act does not fall into the category of unnecessary destruction.

2) Nonetheless, the Noda B'Yehudah writes:

ואמנם מאד אני תמה על גוף הדבר ולא מצינו איש ציד רק בנמרוד ובעשו ואין זה דרכי בני אברהם יצחק ויעקב

  • However, I am surprised by the matter itself. We find no hunters other than Nimrod and Esau, and this is not the way of the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.

3) Hunting in order to make a living vs Hunting for entertainment

Hunting for livelihood if someone has a need for this and makes his living from it, then there is no issue of cruelty involved .

Hunting for entertainment but if his main intention is not to make a living, then it is cruelty. Hunting for entertainment or pleasure is a form of cruelty.

4) Hunting puts one in danger

ועכשיו אני אומר אפילו איסורא איכא שהרי כל העוסקים בזה צריכין להכנס ביערות ולהכניס עצמם בסכנות גדולות במקום גדודי חיות ורחמנא אמר ונשמרתם מאוד לנפשותיכם … ומעתה איך יכניס עצמו איש יהודי למקום גדודי חיות רעות

Now I say that it is even forbidden, for anyone who engages in this must enter the forests and place themselves in great danger, in places of packs of wild animals And the Merciful One said: “Take great care of yourselves” (Deut. 4:15).... how can a Jewish man insert himself into a place of packs of wild and vicious beasts?

The Noda B'Yehuda concludes, writing:

ולכן השומע לי ישכון בטח השקט ושאנן בביתו ולא יאבד זמנו בדברים כאלה

One who heeds me will therefore dwell safely, tranquilly, and contentedly at home and not waste his time with such things.


BOTTOM LINE: unless it's for one's livelihood, the Noda B'Yehuda rules that hunting is forbidden.

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