Sunday, 30 May 2021

Eating a Snack Before Feeding Pets

Question: I know that I am supposed to feed my pets before eating. Can I have a snack first?

Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 40a) teaches that as one must not eat before feeding one’s animals, asking another to feed their animal does not constitute a hefsek, interruption, after reciting the beracha. Elsewhere (Gittin 62a) the Gemara writes that one must not even taste anything before eating (See Chayei Odom 5:11).

The Rif (Berachos 28a) and Rosh (Berachos 6:22) write that one must not even taste, using the term tasting when writing about hefsek. However, the Taz (OC 167:7) and Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 167:9) write that one may have a snack before feeding one’s animals. Rambam (Avadim 9:8) records that the sages would feed their animals before eating their own meal.

The Magen Avraham (167:18) quotes the Sefer Chassidim (531) who writes that one may drink before one’s animals. Thus, Rivka offered to feed Eliezer before feeding his camels (See Mishna Berura 167:40). The Pri Megadim (Mishbetzos Zahav OC 167:7) challenges this proof, arguing that it would have been easy for the camels to have found water while travelling, However, Eliezer would have been thirstier after traveling, where drinking water would have been scarce. Typically, one must give one’s animals to drink first. Likewise, the Ksav Sofer (OC 32 quoting his father, the Chasam Sofer,) writes that as one is only obligated to feed one’s own animals, Rivka was allowed to offer Eliezer first.

Nonetheless, R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi OC 1:90) agrees with the Magen Avraham, writing that as one suffers more from thirst than hunger, the Torah allows us to drink first. Additionally, the prohibition does not include drinking first as unlike with food, we are not concerned that one will become too preoccupied and forget to feed one’s animals.

In conclusion, one may have a drink before eating one’s animals. It is best to feed one’s animals before partaking of snacks. 

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