The Jewish Eye
Noda B'Yehuda: Planning a Hunting Trip this Chol Hamo'ed? Maybe not.
When asked if hunting is permitted for sport the Noda B'Yehuda (YD 10) clearly expresses his distaste for this inappropriate question yet nevertheless answers the question on halachic grounds. He raises the possible issues of "Tzar Ballei Chaim" (causing pain to live creatures) and "Baal Tashchis" and rejects them both. Nevertheless he concludes that it is an extremely inappropriate activity for a Jew and there is an element of issur in it as well.
Hunting is not considered Tzar Ballei Chaim for two reasons. First, anything that provides any benefit for a human does not fall under the issur of Tzar Ballei Chaim. Second it is only assur if the animal is left alive in pain and not if it is killed.
With regard to Baal Tashchis it is only forbidden to destroy something that people would otherwise enjoy. Since these are wild animals and would continue to roam in the forest it does not constitute Baal Tashchis. Furthermore since the only possible benefit from wild animals are for their skins, killing them transforms them into something fit for human enjoyment.
While he says that one who truly hunts for his livelihood is certainly permitted to do so, no less that one who slaughters animals for meat and chicken, nevertheless, one who main purpose is entertainment should clearly refrain from such a cruel and inhumane activity. The only hunters we find in the Torah are Nimrod and Eisav not people we should be emulating.
Moreover says the Noda Bi'Yehuda there is also an issur of endangering your own life and going into the natural habitat of predatory animals certainly constitutes danger. Again he says that for livelihood one may take certain risks but only in situations that demand it and not for sport.
Disclaimer: We try to convey the Tshuva to the best of our ability. We admit that our understanding may not be accurate. Please also understand that this Tshuva may not be the final word on this topic. One should consult a Rav before drawing any conclusions.
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