Question: Must you slaughter a kosher animal that will not be eaten by Jews but will instead be sold to non-Jews?

Short Answer: Rav Moshe Sternbuch suggests that it is a machlokes between the Rambam and the Ramban whether an animal that will only be eaten by non-Jews needs to be slaughtered.


I. Brachah on Slaughtering

The Taz (Yoreh Dei’ah 1:17) writes that the reason we recite a brachah on slaughtering an animal is not because the actual act of slaughtering is a mitzvah, as one is not obligated to eat meat (and thus may avoid the need for slaughtering altogether). Rather, the reason we recite a brachah on slaughtering is to express thanks to Hashem for allowing us to slaughter an animal and consequently avoid the prohibition of eating an animal without slaughtering. Thus, anyone may recite this brachah.

The Taz compares the brachah on slaughtering to the brachah on marriage that is recited by the m’sadeir kiddushin under the chupah. Even though the chasan is getting married, and not the m’sadeir kiddushin, the m’sadeir kiddushin may recite the brachah because the brachah is not recited on the mitzvah of marriage but rather is a praise to Hashem for allowing us to get married and avoid the prohibition of living with women improperly.

II. Animal Cruelty

Many, including the Chasam Sofer (Orach Chayim 54), question the ruling of the Taz. In general, we do not make brachos on removing negatives. If so, why do we recite a brachah on slaughtering, which simply removes the prohibition of eating non-slaughtered animals according to the Taz?

The Chasam Sofer suggests a different reason for the brachah on slaughtering based on the Ramban (B’reishis 1:29). The Ramban explains that the brachah on slaughtering is a brachah on the mitzvah to be merciful. Since the Torah forbids “tzaar baalei chayim” (cruelty to animals), we are commanded to slaughter animals before we eat them. The brachah on this slaughtering thus reflects our desire to be merciful to animals.

The Chasam Sofer elaborates that slaughtering an animal prevents us from becoming cruel and callous, and instills in us proper midos and sensitivity to all living things.

Indeed, the Ramban (D’varim 22:6) himself elaborates on the reason behind slaughtering. The Gemara (B’rachos 33b) writes that a person should not declare that the reason for the mitzvah of Shiluach HaKein (sending away the mother bird) is because Hashem has mercy on animals. The Ramban explains that this is different from the reason for slaughtering, which is to teach us to be merciful.

III. Extrapolation to Non-Kosher

Rav Moshe Sternbuch (T’shuvos V’Hanhagos 6:169) posits that, according to the Ramban, even an animal that is going to be used for non-kosher meat must be humanely slaughtered in order to avoid tzaar baalei chayim.

However, Rav Sternbuch notes that this is not agreed upon by everyone. The Rambam (Hilchos T’filah 9:7) expressly writes that Shiluach HaKein is not based upon any lesson of mercy, as if mitzvos were based upon mercy, slaughter would not be permitted. Moreover, Rashi (B’rachos ibid) writes that Shiluach HaKein has nothing to do with mercy. Accordingly, Rav Sternbuch rules that Rashi and the Rambam hold that slaughter has nothing to do with mercy and thus there is no requirement to slaughter an animal that will be used as non-kosher food.


Next Week’s Topic: A kohen washes his hands after going to the bathroom in the middle of davening. Must he wash his hands again before Birkas Kohanim?

 Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq. is Associate Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and a practicing litigation attorney. Questions? Comments? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.