What is the Jewish view of hunting?

The rabbis strongly disapproved of hunting as a sport (Encyclopedia Judaica 8:1111). A Jew is permitted to capture fish, flesh, or fowl only for purposes of human food or another essential human need, but to destroy an animal for "sport", fashion, or vanity constitutes wanton destruction and is to be condemned. Based on the statement "not to stand in the way of sinners" (Ps. 1:1), the Talmud prohibits association with hunters (Avodah Zorah 18b). A query was addressed to Rabbi Ezekiel Landau (1713-93) by a man wishing to know if he could hunt in his large estate, which included forests and fields. The response stated:

In the Torah the sport of hunting in imputed only to fierce characters like Nimrod and Esau, never to any of the patriarches and their descendants.... I cannot comprehend how a Jew could even dream of killing animals merely for the pleasure of hunting.... When the act of killing is prompted by that of sport, it is downright cruelty. (Yoraah De'ah, 2nd Series, 10)

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