Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feeding birds on Shabbat


May I feed wild birds on Shabbat Shirah?

There is an old custom of leaving grain or bread for birds on Shabbat Shirah. Some suggest it is a reward for their song at the Sea; others link it to the way the birds ate the false manna dispersed by Dasan and Aviram on Shabbat.

Some oppose this practice, insisting that food be left out before Shabbat. This is because the sages forbade feeding wild animals on Shabbat (1) because there may be strain involved and (2) because one might forget the laws of Shabbat and trap these creatures. They permitted only feeding domesticated animals which depend on us for food.

Other authorities defend the practice of putting out food on Shabbat Shirah, arguing that there is no strain involved and that the birds are beyond trapping when the food is placed outside. Further, we are doing it not for the birds' sake, but for the sake of our own custom.

(Maharam Lublin to Beitzah 23b; Magen Avraham 324:7; Tosefes Shabbos 324:17; Mishneh Berurah 324:31; Aruch haShulchan Orach Chaim 324:3; Tzitz Eliezer 14:28)

Have a great day,

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