Some people have called you the first animal conservationist for protecting all land and air animal and fowl species from extinction during the Great Flood, what do you think about it? Does Judaism address Animal Conservation?


Well, I didn't save all the animal species – the fish were safe at sea. But as to your question, the very fact that these species were created by G‑d shows that they have an important purpose, that's why G‑d instructed me to protect them from the Flood. So the work of modern animal conservationists should be commended. The Torah does address animal conservation in the form of two mitzvot, or commandments:

1. A mother and its calf may not be slaughtered on the same day (Leviticus 22:28). One of the reasons for this is, as Nachmanides, one of the greatest medieval rabbis pointed out, to ensure that the species is not wiped out.

2. One may not take chicks or eggs while the mother bird is still in the nest. She must first be sent away. One of the reasons for this mitzvah is to guarantee that the species will not die out. After sending away the mother bird, she will be able to start a new family and preserve the species. Maybe that's why the stated reward for this mitzvah is long life (Deuteronomy 22:7).

The Torah tell us that in the beginning, when G‑d created all living creatures, the Creator placed the animal kingdom under the dominion of man. Man was given permission to employ animals in useful services, such as helping him plow his field, carry his loads, provide wool for his clothing, and the like. But meat-eating was not yet permitted.

Only after the Flood, when the animal world was given a new lease on life through Noah's diligent care for the animals in the Ark, did G‑d give man the right to kill animals for food. But to quote Nachmanides, "while G‑d gave us permission to slaughter individual animals, we are not permitted to bring an entire species to extinction."


Nachmanides, Commentary to the Torah, Deut. Ibid.

Rashi, Genesis 1:29.