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Keeping Pets at Home

Someone wants to purchase a rabbit for his daughter (6 years old) who feels that the rabbit is able to calm her down (even for a 6 year old apparently she is pretty stressed.) However many charedim are makpid to not bring chayos tamaos into their homes or to even look at them. How does this come down l’maseh and what is the makor? We see throughout the history of the Jewish people animals being used as symbols (See Rabbeinu B’Chaya in Bamidbar describing the flags that each shevat had.) As well how is a person suppose to be mkayim the mitzvah of pidyon peter chomer without owning a donkey! This hakpada seems to be relatively “new” and not so understand. Perhaps the Rabbonim could bring some clarity and makoros for this…Thanks!


There is certainly no formal halachic problem of bringing pets into one’s home.

Some have written against the practice, based on the idea that one should not gaze at non-kosher animals — a concept found in the Shelah, and in some other kabbalistic works. Were it not for such writings, it would seem that there is no problem in looking at non-kosher animals, for surely these, too, are creatures created by Hashem.

However, even works that take this into account, such as Shut Ateres Pas (2:5), conclude that it is permitted to keep animals as pets.

See also Shemiras ha-Guf veha-Nefesh (siman 237) who cites different opinions concerning this matter, the lenient opinion writing that there is a mitzvah of having non-kosher animals around, so that we can learn to differentiate between the tameh and the tahor (as the Torah instructs), and so that we can learn from animals, as the Gemara writes (Avodah Zarah 5) that we learn different traits from different animals.

For somebody without special customs, there is therefore no apparent problem, and certainly where there is a to’eles involved it is fine to buy a rabbit or other animal and keep it at home.

One should be careful to study the halachos of tending to pets on Shabbos before buying the animal.

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