Awe is … the straight wisdom expressed in these words of the Rebbe. Such compassion. The Rebbe expressed his deep pain over the cruelty of killing animals for sport. So direct to the point and to my heart – brings tears to my eyes. Translated from the original Yiddish talk that the Rebbe gave on January 31, 1972 (Tu Bishvat):
“…He has a gun, so he goes into the forest to shoot animals and birds. “Why are you shooting?!” we ask. “The animal roams freely and wants to live!”
The answer is that you don’t have anything else to do, so you’re looking for something that will rid you of your boredom. So if you’re bored, bang your head against the wall, heaven forbid! If you bang your head against the wall, it will be painful, but you’ll no longer be bored.
But instead, what solution has he found? He learns how to handle a gun and trains to aim and hit a mark. Then who does he target? Not himself—he shoots an animal! He would shoot a person too, but then he would be jailed. An animal isn’t going to shoot back and neither will he end up in jail. So he goes to the forest to hunt for sport. It is something for which there is simply no place if you want to be called a human being.
Yet not only do we not send people to jail for this, neither do we say that he is sub-human for causing pain to a living creature, maiming it and taking the life of an animal for no benefit whatsoever. He doesn’t do this to eat meat. He does it just because he has already done everything else, and has nothing left to do. So he gathers a group of friends and they go out into fields and forests and shoot!
This is so socially accepted that it’s not considered a crime, not even a small crime. People will say, “Oh, wow! What a great hunter he is!” And how do they know he’s a great hunter? Because upon entering his den, they see over there hangs the head of an animal he killed, and over here stands the horn of another animal he killed. What sort of achievement is this?!
G‑d gave him intelligence to build the world. But he uses it to destroy.
G‑d created you with intelligence in order that it should be used to build the world. But you have used G‑d’s gift to learn to damage and destroy. And you’re not simply satisfied with knowledge; you utilize the money and intelligence G‑d has given you, the strength G‑d has given you, and the guns G‑d has given you to target a defenseless living creature. And then you decide to display your accomplishment—that you can maim and kill!”
A TALK BY THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE, RABBI MENACHEM M. SCHNEERSON;
23rd day of the Jewish month of Tammuz – the month of Awe