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Is there an issue with ladies going to the zoo or looking at animals in general when they are pregnant? I've heard it may be specific to ugly animals (e.g. monkeys) so as not to scare the mother. Or is it Kabbalistic in nature? Does anyone know of a source for this halacha / custom?

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    It would be helpful if you briefly explained why you think it might be or why you think it might not be.
    – Seth J
    Jul 24, 2012 at 21:39
  • See the Sefer עת ללדת it has all the info and sources. I love it! available on Feldheim.com![enter image description here](i.stack.imgur.com/1ajoZ.png)
    – user12728
    Jun 1, 2016 at 20:00

5 Answers 5

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There is no issue with them going to a zoo, the problem is they should not be staring at the animals. I asked this question to HaRav Betzalel Rudinsky years ago and he showed me from Rishonim issues to this effect. I do not remember the sources, other than that the Raavad was among them.

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  • Rav Rudinsky is not typically known for restrictions that are "kabbalistic" in nature, and not mandated by halacha and/or minhag. He may have shown you which Rishonim warn against it, but did he issue a psak halacha that a specific pregnant should not go to a zoo? What about going to a neighbor's house, who might have a dog? What about going in her own backyard in Monsey, where hedgehogs are known to run around?
    – user1095
    Feb 5, 2012 at 19:41
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The mekor is based off the Sefer Habris which explains it is not good for a pregnant woman to see strange things and then get scared which is bad for the baby. See here for answer #399 .

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  • The link is dead
    – Shababnik
    Aug 6, 2023 at 22:34
  • It's been over 10 years . Will try to refind it.
    – sam
    Aug 6, 2023 at 23:26
  • That's the problem with links...
    – Shababnik
    Aug 7, 2023 at 0:40
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+50

This discussion is brought down in the Sefer Vayehi Binsoa in perek 14 on the section discussing birchas meshaneh habriyos. In the Orchos Halacha section it notes that Rabbi Pollack heard from the Rebbe of Pshevorsk that he reasoned; he has never seen a lion, but since the mishnah says that one should be "גבור כארי" ("mighty like a lion") it indicates that it is quite fierce, and one can possible assume that a pregnant woman might become scared. And thus, this is the primary concern, not because it is a tamei (impure) animal. However, this teaching was based primarily on the premise that he had never actually seen a lion. Accordingly, if a woman regularly visits the zoo and knows she won't be scared, then there is no problem with her going, and Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss ruled that it was ok for a pregnant woman to visit.

It also mentions the Sefer HaBris that has already been mentioned above as well as the Sefer Invei HaGefen (2nd cheileck, 12:10) that if she will be transfixed at the sight or deeply scared which will make a profound impact on the foetus, then she should refrain from visiting. However, similarly, if she is used to going and there is no worry about her being scared etc. then it is permissible. However, there is still the concern that one might gaze at it for too long a time which is also problematic according the Kav HaYashar 2:7.

UPDATE

After a bit more searching I saw in the Halachically Speaking series entitled The Expectant Mother, that it brings the machlokes with further sources. (I will try and look them up if they are accessible online)

Some poskim are of the opinion that a pregnant woman should avoid going to a zoo.1 However, others are lenient with this.2


1 Migdal Oz chalon tzurey 32. Opinion of Harav Tuvia Goldstein zt”l (as related by Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster Shlita).

2 Bunei Beischa page 332, Opinion of Harav Felder Shlita, see Ashrei Yiladito page 31:footnote 25 who is lenient.

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  • The kav hayashar 2:7 doesn't mention pregnant women per se but I do see the point brought out by staring at impure animals for too long which seems to apply equally to men and women.
    – Shababnik
    Aug 6, 2023 at 13:42
  • @Shababnik - that's a correct assessment.
    – Dov
    Aug 6, 2023 at 14:05
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I see two mekoros; the sefer habris and the kav hayashar. I have been unsuccessful in finding any mekor in sifrei halacha and minhag (bar ilan didn't offer anything, but i'm not the greatest at searching...). I don't have access to these two great sefarim, but then again i understand that these sefarim say many things that we don't necessarily follow. I heard about this minhag from my mother and mother in law, and I would like to know if this minhag is the product of folklore so to speak, or it is actually endorsed by rabbanim.

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    You say that this is discussed in those two sefarim, but you don’t say what they say on the topic. Could you edit that in?
    – DonielF
    Aug 14, 2017 at 13:27
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Perhaps it is because of the snake who wanted to be intimate with Chava. The snake represents the animal kingdom... And because of the first sin of eating the fruit committed by Chava, she recieved the punishment of painful childbirth.

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    I would give a +1 if the grammar/punctuation was added, or if some source was quoted.
    – user9907
    Apr 27, 2016 at 19:45
  • Not sure what you are saying. Apr 28, 2016 at 1:56
  • Mair, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for your first answer! You might want to review carefully the grammar as it is not fully understandable yet. And If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. Please consider registering your account, to enable more site features, including voting. I hope you find more Q&A of interest and stay learning with us!
    – mbloch
    Apr 28, 2016 at 4:07
  • Fixed up the grammar!
    – ezra
    Dec 1, 2016 at 21:31

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