Torah E-Thought: Animal Rights

This Week at Chabad Lubavitch Leeds

Light Candles in Leeds :

Friday, 18 Nov  3:46pm
Shabbat Ends,
4:56 pm
Torah Portion: 

Chabad Lubavitch Leeds   Email: [email protected]   Phone:

Message from the Rabbi
Dear Friend,

I writing from the International Conference of Shluchim attended by thousands of Chabad Lubavitch Rabbis from across the world. One of the highlights of the conference is our concluding Banquet. You can watch it live on Sunday night here.

Our first Chanukah events are online! We’re going to be holding a Whisky Tasting at Chabad Lubavitch and a Mini Camp for four days during the Chanukah holidays. Details here and here.

Wishing you a Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Eli Pink
Director of Education
Chabad Lubavitch Leeds


The annual Chabad Lubavitch Kinus Hashluchim is an opportunity for the thousands of Chabad Lubavitch Rabbis from across the world to recharge, connect with old friends and new, and attend a wide variety of workshops on all aspects of our work.

Invariably the cost-of-living crisis and fundraising has been a large focus. Unlike most communal Rabbis, Chabad Lubavitch shluchim also have the responsibility for raising their own budgets and need to find local funding. How best to do this during a cost-of-living crisis? And what should our priorities be?

There is a lesser known halacha about owning animals and pets. In the second portion of the Shema, we read “and I will provide grass in your field for your cattle, and [then] you will eat and be satisfied.” The Talmud says, “From here we learn that one is forbidden to eat before he feeds his animals.” Thus, in the Shema, the single most important prayer in Judaism, said twice daily, the Torah tells us that before one eats, one needs to feed one’s animals: cattle, pets, birds, fish or whatever.

There are many reasons why one must feed the animals before oneself. The most basic one is “tzaar baalei chaim” – not to cause pain to animals. Long before their animal rights groups and movements to defend dogs and cats, the Torah established that it’s forbidden to pain any living creature. If one gets in the habit of always feeding our animals before we eat, the animal will not go hungry.

This week’s Torah portion however, seems to teach us the opposite. We read about the Torah’s first shidduch - how Abraham asked his butler to travel far across the desert to bring back a wife for his son Isaac. Eliezer went on his way, and upon arriving at his destination, he turned to G-d with a prayer, saying, “The girl to whom I say, ‘tilt your jug that I might drink’ and she says, ‘drink - and I will also give your camels to drink,’ she is the one You have determined for Your servant Isaac.”

Almost immediately, this is exactly what happened. Rebecca came along to the oasis and Eliezer asked her for a little water - and indeed, the Torah tells us, “she lowered her jug and gave him to drink, finished quenching him… and drew water for all his camels.”

Why did Eliezer drink before the camels? It’s the opposite of what we’ve been saying that one needs to feed animals before people. It seems that if a person has water, they are not in danger and therefore must certainly feed their animals first. But where one does not have water to drink, one’s life unquestionably comes before animals because it’s a life-and-death situation.

There is an age-old debate over what’s more important: charitable institutions that deal with the physical side of Jewish life like old age homes and housing, or institutions that deal with the Jewish nation’s spiritual needs like Jewish schools, synagogues and youth movements.

Arguably, the majority of past generations in our people’s history were poor and if the community had not provided their needs, they would have been in immediate danger. There was no one providing housing or fuel benefits in Czarist Russia. Thus, material charity certainly came first, because without the Jewish body there is no Jewish soul - or anything else Jewish, for that matter.

In our generation, however, we find ourselves more prosperous than ever before and governments have taken on the role of providing benefits for basic needs.  Conversely, the spiritual situation is far more serious. We clearly know that formal and informal Jewish education is vital if we want to ensure Jewish continuity.

When it’s a situation of spiritual life and death, and the response is clear - saving lives come before everything. And when it comes to spiritual life and death, one must provide “water” - the Torah - before anything else.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, one can argue that the physical needs of our community are becoming more important again. Either way, those of us can, should certainly make sure we are giving as much tzedokah as possible.

Join our Whisky Tasting

Upcoming Events
Candle lighting and Services
Friday, Nov. 18, 2022 - 3:46 pm
Chassidus and Cake
Shabbat, Nov. 19, 2022 - 9:30 am
Shabbat Service
Shabbat, Nov. 19, 2022 - 10:00 am
Hebrew Cool Club (HCC)
Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022 - 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
6 week JLI - My G-d?
Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022 - 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Hebrew Cool Club (HCC)
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022 - 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Candle lighting and Services
Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 - 3:37 pm
Chassidus and Cake
Shabbat, Nov. 26, 2022 - 9:30 am
Shabbat Service
Shabbat, Nov. 26, 2022 - 10:00 am
Hebrew Cool Club (HCC)
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022 - 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
6 week JLI - My G-d?
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022 - 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Hebrew Cool Club (HCC)
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022 - 3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
JMT Friday Night
Friday, Dec. 2, 2022 - 8:30 pm
At the Pinks
Chassidus and Cake
Shabbat, Dec. 3, 2022 - 9:30 am
Shabbat Service
Shabbat, Dec. 3, 2022 - 10:00 am
JLI in action
Service Times

Friday Night, 3.46pm,

Shabbat Morning, 10.00am

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Parshah in a Nutshell

Parshat Chayei Sarah

Sarah dies at age 127 and is buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron, which Abraham purchases from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver.

Abraham’s servant Eliezer is sent, laden with gifts, to Charan, to find a wife for Isaac. At the village well, Eliezer asks G‑d for a sign: when the maidens come to the well, he will ask for some water to drink; the woman who will offer to give his camels to drink as well shall be the one destined for his master’s son.

Rebecca, the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, appears at the well and passes the “test.” Eliezer is invited to their home, where he repeats the story of the day’s events. Rebecca returns with Eliezer to the land of Canaan, where they encounter Isaac praying in the field. Isaac marries Rebecca, loves her, and is comforted over the loss of his mother.

Abraham takes a new wife, Keturah ( Hagar), and fathers six additional sons, but Isaac is designated as his only heir. Abraham dies at age 175 and is buried beside Sarah by his two eldest sons, Isaac and Ishmael.