Dear Rabbi Kornfeld:
Your answer (#10a) paraphrase our gemara (128b) saying: "Rav Nachman
permits one to press the animal's stomach behind the womb; to help the baby
emerge". It seems that this (and other) actions of helping an animal in
the birth process would be permissible because of tza'ar ba'alay chaim.
However, we don't find the idea of "tza'ar ba'alay chaim" in our mishna (do
we see it anywhere else in Shas?). It came out in our shiur that this is
because we don't know whether there actually is any tza'ar in animal
birth. A few sentences later, Rashi (d'h bool shel melach) says that the
mother will remember the tza'ar of childbirth. Two questions:
1) It seems we do have, at least an indirect source for animals not
having pain in childbirth; with G-d's curse to Chava in Parshas B'reishis,
which I understood didn't include animals.
2) Is Rashi's source for the idea of tza'ar ba'alay chaim in the birth
process evident anywhere?
The Gemara before this Mishnah mentions Tza'ar Ba'alay Chayim, and says that the Mitzvah d'Oraisa of preventing Tza'ar from an animal is Docheh an Isur d'Rabanan such as being Mevatel a Kli from its use on Shabbos (the Gemara in Bava Metzia 32b records a Machlokes whether Tza'ar Ba'alay Chayim is d'Oraisa or d'Rabanan).
The reason for our Mishnah, though, does not seem to be to prevent the animal from having Tza'ar, because if so, it should be permitted to be "Meyaled" and not just to assist in the birth. Rather, we are not concerned with preventing the Tza'ar Leidah that an animal will experience when giving birth; helping the baby out may not make the birth less painful for the mother. We may not be "Meyaled," however, because that is a Tircha Yeseirah, as Rashi states.
1. The animals were included in the curse, because they also ate from the Etz ha'Da'as as the commentators there point out (from the word "Gam"). That is also why, by the way, animals die, which was also part of the curse for eating from the Tree.
2. See Bava Basra 16b which describes the birth pains of the Ayalah and Ya'aleh.
Thank you for your insight. It seems, though, that there is a requirement to prevent animals from experiencing pain, because at the beginning of this Amud it states clearly that we help save an animal that fell into a pit because of Tza'ar Ba'alay Chayim -- even if the animal fell by itself into the pit.
>> The Kollel replied:
The reason for our Mishnah, though, does not seem to be to prevent the animal from having Tza'ar, because if so, it should be permitted to be "Meyaled" and not just to assist in the birth. Rather, we are not concerned with preventing the Tza'ar Leidah that an animal will experience when giving birth; we may not be "Meyaled" because that is a Tircha Yeseirah, as Rashi states.<<
What then _is_ the purpose of helping the animal give birth if not tza'ar ba'alay chayim??
The purpose of helping the animal give birth is that the young animal should be born healthy (so that one will have a healthy animal to raise, sell, eat, etc.), the same way it is permissible to place an empty barrel under a leaking barrel to save the wine.