are examples of kindness to animals shown by great
Many great Jewish heroes of the Bible were trained
for their tasks by being shepherds of flocks.
Moses was tested by God through his shepherding:
While our teacher Moses was tending the
sheep of Jethro in the wilderness a lamb ran away
from him. He ran after her until she reached Hasuah.
Upon reaching Hasuah she came upon a pool of water
[whereupon] the lamb stopped to drink. When Moses
reached her he said, "I did notknow that you were
running because [you were] thirsty. You must be
tired." He placed her on his shoulder and began
to walk. The Holy One, blessed be He, said, "You
are compassionate in leading flocks belonging to
mortals; I swear you will similarly shepherd my
flock, Israel." (Exodus Rabbah 2:2)
The greatest Jewish teacher, leader, and prophet was
found worthy, not because of abilities as a speaker,
statesman, politician, or warrior, but because of
his compassion for animals!
God also deemed David worthy of tending the Jewish
people because he, like Moses, knew how to look
after sheep, bestowing upon each the care it needed.
David used to prevent the larger sheep from going
out before the smaller ones. The smaller ones were
then able to graze upon the tender grass. Next he
permitted the old sheep to feed from the ordinary
grass, and finally the young, lusty sheep at the
tougher grass. (Exodus Rabbah 2:2)
Rebecca was judged suitable as Isaac's wife because
of the kindness she showed to animals. Eliezer,
Abraham's servant, asked Rebecca for water for himself.
She not only gave him water, but also ran to provide
water for his camels. Rebecca's concern for camels
was evidence of a tender heart and compassion for
all God's creatures. It convinced Eliezer that Rebecca
would make a suitable wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:11-20).
The patriarch Jacob also demonstrated concern for
animals. After their reconciliation, his brother
Esau said to him, "Let us take our journey and let
us go, and I will go before you." But "My lord knows
that the children are tender, and that the flocks
and the herds giving suck are a care to me; and
if my workers overdrive them one day, all the flocks
will die. Let my lord, I pray you, pass over before
his servant and I will journey on gently, according
to the pace of the cattle that are before me and
according to the pace of the children, until I come
unto my lord, unto Seir" (Gen. 33:12-14).