The Gemara (Berachos 40a) expounds from Devarim 11:15 that one may not eat before feeding his animals:

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב אסור לאדם שיאכל קודם שיתן מאכל לבהמתו שנאמר ונתתי עשב בשדך לבהמתך והדר ואכלת ושבעת:

Rav Yehudah said that Rav said: A man is forbidden to eat before he gives food to his animals, as it says, “And I will place grass in your field for your animals,” and then “you will eat and be satisfied.”

However, both the Gemara and the Passuk use the term בהמתך, which refers to domesticated animals. Does this extend to a pet dog (considered a wild animal as per Kilayim 8:6), parrot, or goldfish? Is בהמה used here specifically, to the exclusion of these other categories? Or is it saying a general case, as it’s more common for people to have בהמות than other types of animals, but it would indeed apply to all types of animals if someone had them?

  • This statement is exclusively about Midos and Lifney miShuras haDin. One who thinks he's a "Chusid" must mind his subordinates before fulfilling his own needs. But of course one does not have to, especially if his resources are limited.
    – Al Berko
    Feb 3, 2019 at 13:32
  • @AlBerko False, this is brought down Lehalacha through the Seforim: sefaria.org/Kitzur_Shulchan_Aruch.42.1?with=all&lang=bi Feb 3, 2019 at 13:56
  • It's a machlokes (surprise ,surprise) see the Yaavetz I qoute.
    – sam
    Feb 3, 2019 at 15:55
  • @Salmononius2 Who said Halachah does not deal with Midos? It just teaches one to be responsible and sensitive.
    – Al Berko
    Feb 3, 2019 at 18:14
  • @AlBerko I don’t particularly care for the purposes of this Gemara whether it’s l’Halacha or not. All I’m asking is whether other kinds of animals are included in this teaching, even if we don’t pasken like it. Hence why I left out the halacha tag, and why I’m rolling back your edit.
    – DonielF
    Feb 3, 2019 at 18:18

2 Answers 2


Rav Yaakov Emden -Shilas Yaavetz 1:17 writes that a pet needs to be fed first and fish are included. It is important to note that if the animal has a feeding schedule and your pet wouldn't be hungry you would be allowed to it first, see teshuva inside.


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Chayei Sarah 24:19 shows that one is allowed to drink before he gives water to his animals.

And she finished giving him to drink, and she said, "I will also draw for your camels, until they will have finished drinking."

Chayei Sarah 24:32 shows that Eliezer took care of the camels and fed them before he went into the house and allowed Laban to offer him food.

So the man came to the house and unmuzzled the camels, and he gave straw and fodder to the camels and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him.

Animals that feed themselves, such as range cattle, are not subject to this rule. All animals that depend on the master to feed them are subject to this rule.

As you cited the gemara and as we see in Zoo Torah: Feeding Pets First

“I shall provide grass in your field for your animals, and you shall eat and be satisfied.” (Deuteronomy 11:15)

“Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: It is forbidden for a person to eat before he has fed his animal, as it [first] states, “I shall provide grass in your field for your animals,” and afterwards it states, “and you shall eat and be satisfied.” (Talmud, Berachos 40a)

Rabbi Slifkin continues with the sources cited in the footnotes.

The requirement to feed one’s animals first applies to all creatures in a person’s possession. There are some authorities who rule that the prohibition of causing pain to animals only applies to working animals. But feeding animals is an obligation with all types of animals when they are held in a person’s house and are dependent upon him for food. This would apply to all forms of life, including birds and fish.7

A person need only give his animals food first if they are actually hungry. Thus, for example, if a person has a python that only eats once a month, he need only offer it food once a month. Some also state that the obligation is also not binding if the creatures have their own means of obtaining food.8

In addition, some state that a person is only required to give his animals food before eating if it is the ordinary time to feed the animals.9

7 Rabbi Yaakov Emden, She’elas Yaavetz 1:17.

8 Rabbi Yaakov Emden, She’elas Yaavetz 1:17.

9 Hagahos Tiferes Yaakov to Tiferes Yisrael, Shabbos 16:13. See discussion in Shatzman, Nefesh Kol Chai, p. 179.

  • 1. I never said anything about giving to drink. 2. Maybe Eliezer was מדת חסידות, not that it’s actually the Halacha? 3. Your proof from JewFAQ is from a site that just quotes the same Gemara and passuk that I quoted in the OP and therefore doesn’t help anything.
    – DonielF
    Feb 3, 2019 at 2:05
  • @DonielF I updated the answer to point to where is says all animals. I put in the drinking just for completeness and because those who discuss it bring in drinking to show what is required. Feb 3, 2019 at 2:44

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