Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Aside from the mitzvah of loving one’s fellow Jew and bearing responsibility for his/her destiny, it is also a mitzvah to love all of humankind, ahavat habriyot, in recognition that every human being is created in the image of God. Beyond that, we also must feel the pain of all living creatures (the literal meaning of Tza’ar ba’ale hayyim). Also related is kvod ha-briyot – human dignity. Read here to see some of the many contemporary halachic rulings that have been made on the basis of maintaining human dignity, from euthanasia to gay rights.
Meanwhile, read here details, from an Orthodox perspective, of the extent of the Jewish concern for the pain of animals, and here for a more Progressive approach. Finally, see here, an article of mine on Animal cruelty and Jewish law.