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Does Psalm 145:16 teach that G-d ensures the well being of every living animal?

"You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing"

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    – mbloch
    Jun 4, 2016 at 18:17
  • yes for the duration of time they're supposed to live
    – ray
    Jun 4, 2016 at 20:34
  • I have 2 concerns - 1) Well-being is more general than feeding. So, the title seems to conflict with the body of your question. What do you want answered? 2) Where is the English translation from? The term "desire" seems questionable in this context. I think, here, the better translation would be "according to its needs". Please source your translation, as that will help you get better answers.
    – DanF
    Jun 6, 2016 at 16:16
  • duplicate? judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/99510/…
    – Simcha
    Jul 1, 2021 at 21:55

3 Answers 3

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Yes, the major commentator Radak says this includes animals. Not well-being, though, as you ask, but just food.

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  • but some animals are food for other animals. how do you explain that?
    – ray
    Jun 7, 2016 at 10:46
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    @Gizbar, I don't understand how that contradicts anything the Radak wrote, but if you have a question by all means post a question post.
    – msh210
    Jun 7, 2016 at 13:40
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This edition of Miqra'ot Gedolot lists the following commentaries:

  • RaSh"I says "per [each creature's] (lit. his) livelihood"
  • Ibn 'Ezra says "what will suffice for [each creature] (lit. him)"
  • Meẓudat David says "according to [each creature's] (lit. his) will and desires"
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  • Ibn Ezra's explanation seems closest to what I think the translation of the term "ratzon" is, in this context. It doesn't seem to mean "desire". If G-d fulfilled all beings desires, all animals would probably end up having things that may not be good for them. This is not just a given with humans. Many dogs desire toilet water. It doesn't mean that's good for them.
    – DanF
    Jun 6, 2016 at 16:20
  • @DanF A common English translation for "razon" in prayer books like ArtScroll is "will". For example "Ken yehi razon" (may it be Your Will).
    – Lee
    Jun 7, 2016 at 20:23
  • That's a good translation. "Need" is another translation, which would probably work for this verse.
    – DanF
    Jun 8, 2016 at 13:51
  • @DanF "Need" is a poor translation since we use the word "Razon" in relation to HaShem Who has no needs.
    – Lee
    Jun 8, 2016 at 17:03
  • I think you misunderstood my reference. In the phrase that you cited, Ken Yehi Ratzon", I agree that "need" doesn't apply. In the questions Ashrei verse, "need" might apply correctly, and that need is decided by G-d.
    – DanF
    Jun 8, 2016 at 17:08
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Rabbenu Avraham ben HaRambam writes in HaMaspik L'ovdey Hashem (Wincelberg translation) that these verses apply to animals as well:

Just as He created each being of the world, so does He supply its nourishment, as it says "He gives bread to all flesh" (Tehillim 136:25)...It also says, "The eyes of all look to You and you provide their food in its time" (ibid 145:15). This applies not only to people, but also to animals. (page 271).

However, it is not clear (at least in the translation) whether he is discussing each individual species, or each individual animal. Indeed, one could perhaps infer that he is discussing the species, for he writes that "Just as He created each being of the world, so does He supply its nourishment". God created each species, but did not (directly) create each individual organism.

Rambam famously writes in Moreh Nevukhim (3:17) that personal providence does not extend to animals.

Accordingly, it seems reasonable to conclude that Rambam (and presumably his son) would understand this as referring to whole species; not to individual animals.

See also Rabbenu Avraham's discussion of this verse on page 277.

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  • Nice find.+1 why not also הזן את העולם כולו בכבודו May 5, 2017 at 14:49
  • @ShoelU'Meishiv The trick was finding the question (linked to here); not the answer. :) I assume that Rabbenu Avraham preferred a scriptural source. The vast majority of the proof texts in the ethical portion of HaMaspik are scriptural
    – mevaqesh
    May 5, 2017 at 14:59
  • Commentless downvote?
    – mevaqesh
    May 8, 2017 at 14:11

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