Question:

Clearly as far as kosher is concerned our meat qualifies for consumption. Recently I have been wondering (and speaking with people to evaluate) if the fact that animals are routinely mistreated in the process of food preparation taints the food from other perspectives such as tzaar balei chayim and perhaps even mitzvah habaah b’avaeira if an intentional part of the preparation process caused undue pain to the animal.

I’m trying to figure out if there is a halachic basis on which to question whether a product can be eaten if there is knowledge that intentional mistreatment took place for the convenience of preparation, or to save financially

Answer:

That’s an interesting point.

I do however think that it is not a problem at all to eat, because if the animal was mistreated, the person who mistreated the animal did the sin and HE gets tainted, the perpetrator, not the victim. If someone hits another person, the hit person doesn’t become tainted, if anything we see that H-shem seeks the oppressed, (Elokim mevakesh es hanirdaf). They don’t become tainted, they become uplifted.

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6 Responses to “Eating Meat and the possibility of the animal having been mistreated.”

  1. Thanks for your reply. I am still unclear though. With regard to mitzvah habaa ba’aveira, the question becomes whether the lulav itself is permitted. Of course the thief is oiver an aeira, but in that instance, it does transfer to the cheftza as well. If we have a situation such as a seuda for Yom Tov or Shabbos that is a mitzva would mitzvah habaa b’aveira come back into play?

    • Mitzvah haba baveiro is when the mitzva was caused, or made posible specific because the aveiro was done. He would not have this lulav had he not stolen it. However the animal didn’t become edible because they mistreated it.

  2. Shalom
    As an extension of this question, certainly the animal and its meat aren’t tainted and therefore are completely mutar.
    However – is there any inyan that by purchasing this meat you are supporting (at least financially) or failing to object to mistreatment of animals? Perhaps some extension of מסייע?
    Granted one could possibly learn from ב״מ דף לב that some aspects of צער might be justified if it’s for human benefit – but in this case the companies are deliberately mistreating animals because it’s easier and/or cheaper than treating them properly. Surely there’s a מדה נכונה to not support this practice by buying their meat?

    • If it is only an inyan, but not halachically based, I can’t advocate that one shouldn’t eat it. If someone has such feelings, and wants to abstain from eating meat because of such mistreatment, that is his own personal decision.
      The question asked was in general, on the premise that they are mistreated. I don’t know what specifically is being done, and if it is included in what is permitted for human benefit or not.
      As a side point, we have to be very cautious before taking on new “inyonim”, because they can cause us to be lax in other areas. For example, if we are going to look for a company that treats thier animals better, is it going to cause us to compromise the standard of it’s hechsher, or cause a difficulty on our wife to get such meat, or insult a relative or friend by not eating their meat

  3. What is being done is often pretty upsetting. Apart from things that go on in the production of the food, (which may or may not be permitted by halacha or dina d’malchisa for the sake of convenience or saving money) often the workers in these places are very unrefined individuals. Videos online exist of them picking animals up, throwing them around, kicking and punching them and the like. These actions have nothing to do with the production of food, but the brutality of the workers. These actions are far from rare in the industry and what more is there to say- it is extremely upsetting to watch these things some of which are indeed taped in kosher plants.

    The function of this site though is to offer halachic guidance as Rav Zidell notes above. It seems from what was mentioned above that the original question of mitzvah habaah b’aveira or tzar baa’lei chayim has been settled and there is not halachic concern on that end. The only thing one might need to be concerned about with regard to halacha is if the animals are treated in a way that transgresses the discomfort that is halachically permitted to cause (If I understood that correctly and if indeed there are such parameters). Further, one really needs to think carefully before taking on personal hanhagos like avoiding meat for this reason.

    But We are so sensitive though when it comes to other areas of chumros with regard to kashrus and certainly other aspects of halacha like our hidurim with matzos and lulav esrog etc… How come a proper structure for hiddurim to ensure animals were not mistreated in the production of food is not also a hiddur that we take seriously. – It’s like of someone raises the issue they are looked at strangely.

    Personally I could see being mildly offended if someone told me they wouldn’t eat a hechsher we held by. But if someone told me they didn’t want to eat meat because they are opposed to the treatment of the animals, I would not take it to personal offense at all. Actually the opposite. If someone who enjoys meat, and would eat meat they knew was not prepared in a manner that caused undue pain refrained in an instance where they knew it did cause undue pain to the animal I’d be impressed with that person.

    • I still see a differance between a hidur when buying an esrog that has no spots, or matzos made without any chance that they began to rise, and this. The esrog that has no spots is halachically more in line with the ultimate performance of the mitzvah, whereas not eating meat that the animal was ill treated is not making the meat more kosher or better, rather it is a protest to the owners of the companies to watch thier workers better. Can we call this meat more “mehudar”, or that there wasn’t any issur done during the time of its production?

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