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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"

  • Tyrone, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for your first question! 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 Jun 4 '16 at 18:17
  • yes for the duration of time they're supposed to live – ray Jun 4 '16 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 '16 at 16:16
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Yes, the major commentator Radak says this includes animals. Not well-being, though, as you ask, but just food.

  • but some animals are food for other animals. how do you explain that? – ray Jun 7 '16 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 '16 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"
  • 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 '16 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 '16 at 20:23
  • That's a good translation. "Need" is another translation, which would probably work for this verse. – DanF Jun 8 '16 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 '16 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 '16 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.

  • Nice find.+1 why not also הזן את העולם כולו בכבודו – Shoel U'Meishiv May 5 '17 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 '17 at 14:59
  • Commentless downvote? – mevaqesh May 8 '17 at 14:11

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