Halacha for Tuesday 22 Iyar 5781 May 4 2021

Moving Animals on Shabbat

Question: May one move domesticated birds that live in a cage on Shabbat in order to move the cage from place to place as necessary? Similarly, may one remove a dead fish from one’s aquarium on Shabbat?

Answer: The Gemara (Shabbat 128b) states that it is forbidden to move or carry any animals or birds on Shabbat and they retain the law of other forms of Muktzeh on Shabbat which may not be moved.

Rabbeinu Nissim writes that the reason why animals are considered Muktzeh and forbidden to be moved on Shabbat is because animals are not able to be used for any purpose on Shabbat and thus, they retain the same law as wood and stones which are considered innately Muktzeh because they have no purpose on Shabbat. The Bet Yosef (Chapter 308) writes accordingly.

The same law applies to caged birds and since the birds themselves do not serve any purpose on Shabbat, they may not be moved, even when they are still in the cage. There is no distinction between moving animals or moving birds, as Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 308, Section 39) rules, “It is forbidden to move any animals or birds on Shabbat.”

Nevertheless, Rabbeinu Chaim Ohr Zarua (one of the great Rishonim) rules that one may be lenient and move birds on Shabbat since people enjoy their voices on Shabbat and this enjoyment entails no prohibition. There is likewise no issue to move them, for they are not used for any type of forbidden work as people merely enjoy their appearance, voice, and chirping. Thus, according to Rabbeinu Chaim Ohr Zarua, caged birds may be moved on Shabbat. Nevertheless, halachically speaking, we follow the opinion of the Rosh and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch who rule that no animals or birds may be moved on Shabbat.  

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (Volume 5 of Responsa Yabia Omer, Chapter 26) that although we rule in accordance with the Rosh that birds may not be moved on Shabbat, nevertheless, in a situation where the animal is suffering, such as if the cage is in a place where the sun is beating down on it or if it is in a very cold place and this poses danger and great suffering to the birds, one may rely on the opinion of Rabbeinu Chaim Ohr Zarua and move the cage to a shaded place. Maran proceeds to support his opinion with various proofs.

The same applies to tropical fish and when the fish are in a small aquarium and one fish dies, this poses a danger to the rest of the fish since the dead fish decomposes in the water, one may remove the dead fish on Shabbat although it is Muktzeh. This is because of the issue of animal suffering, as we have explained.

Summary: It is forbidden to move animals on Shabbat. It is therefore forbidden to move a bird cage on Shabbat. Nevertheless, in a situation where the birds are suffering, such as if the sun is beating down on the birds’ heads and this can cause them to die sometimes as well, it will be permissible to move the bird cage to a shaded place.

Ask the Rabbi


ספר אביר הרועים - בית מידות
ספר אביר הרועים
לפרטים לחץ כאן

הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

The Obligation to Eat in the Sukkah

Since there is not so much time left to discuss the laws of Sukkot, let us now spend the next few Halachot discussing some pertinent Halachot for the upcoming Sukkot holiday. A Meal of an Established Character Throughout the entire Sukkot holiday, both during the night and day, it is prohibited ......

Read Halacha

Reciting Selichot Alone, Without a Minyan

Question: If one is unable to recite Selichot with a Minyan (quorum of at least ten Jewish men) for whatever reason or if a woman wishes to recite Selichot and she cannot do so with a Minyan, may one recite the Selichot texts alone or should one abstain from doing so? Answer: If one wishes to rec......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Eating a Kezayit of Bread in the Sukkah on the First Night of Sukkot and One who is Uncomfortable in the Sukkah

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one may not eat an established meal outside of the Sukkah anytime during the Sukkot holiday. One must be aware that the reward for the Mitzvah of Sukkah is that it protects one during turbulent times (see Zohar, Parashat Tetzaveh). The Mitzvah of......

Read Halacha

The Custom of “Tashlich”

Following Mincha services of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to go to a seashore, river, well, or pit in order to recite the order of “Tashlich.” If there is no river, lake, or pond in close proximity of one’s vicinity, it is likewise perfectly acceptable to recite ......

Read Halacha

The Proper Behavior for the Days of Rosh Hashanah-The Custom of Maran zt”l

It is customary to eat red meat and sweet foods on the days of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse in Nechemia states, “Go eat fatty foods and drink sweet beverages and sent gifts of food to those who do not have, for the day is sanctified to our Lord.” One may not fast at all on Rosh Hashana......

Read Halacha

Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

It is a positive Torah commandment to hear the Shofar blasts on the day of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse states, “It shall be a day of [Shofar] blasts for you.” One may not speak between the various sets of Shofar blasts and certainly not during the blasts themselves. The Poskim disagree r......

Read Halacha