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Orthodox Judaism

Historical and contemporary references, plus official statements on animal protection issues

  • A young girl rewards her dog at playtime. JupiterImages Corporation

Orthodox Judaism teaches that the Torah, in both its written and oral form, was given to Moses directly by G-d and that strict adherence to the Torah is required of all Jews in all areas of life.

This core set of beliefs unites several subgroups, including “Modern Orthodox Judaism,” “Haredi Judaism,” and “Hasidic Judaism.” 

There are more than 600,000 Orthodox Jews in the United States and Canada and more than 1.8 million faithful worldwide.

Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides or the Rambam, was a renowned 12th century rabbinic scholar whose 13 Principles of the Faith is widely regarded to be the definitive distillation of Orthodox beliefs.  Maimonides taught that although Jewish Law permits the use of animals, we must always remember that animals exist for their own sake, not for ours, and that they are a good in the eyes of G-d.

“I consider therefore the following opinion as most correct according to the teaching of the Bible, and best in accordance with the results of philosophy; namely, that the Universe does not exist for man’s sake, but that each being exists for its own sake, and not because of some other thing…each part is declared to be the product of [G-d’s] will, and to satisfy by its existence the intention [of the Creator]," states Maimonides in "The Guide for the Perplexed" (M. Friedlander trans. 1903. Reprinted by Forgotten Books 2008, pp. 493-494). "This is expressed by the phrase, ‘And [G-d] saw that it was good’ (Gen i.4, etc.).”

Learn more

About Orthodox Judaism and animals

Read the entire statement (PDF) in Facts & Faith: Religious Statements on Animals »

About Orthodox Judaism

There are many official statements on animal protection as well as historical and contemporary references in Orthodox Judaism.

•   Orthodox Union
•   The Rabbinical Council of America
•   Chabad.org

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