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Jan 6, 2008

Shmitta:spaying the house pet

Another funny ramification of the great shmitta debate of allowing or not allowing the hetter mechira has arisen.

Whether it is possible to use the hetter mechira in order neuter your pet. That is the question.

Hmmm... Hard to find the connection, isn't it?

Well, Ynet is reporting on a story that involved this connection. This guy had a pet cat who, as he puts it, "started peeing all over the house". He realized that he had to get the cat spayed or it would be a serious problem and he would not be able to keep the cat.

The problem is it is generally prohibited to neuter animals in Jewish law.

This guy went and asked various Rabbis for solutions and they all answered that it is prohibited.

He explored the halacha on his own delving into the relevant bodies of text and came to the conclusion that it is allowed, as the prohibition was only against neutering farm animals, and not pets. (I do not know enough about the topic, so I cannot comment on whether I think his conclusion is right or wrong).

Yet, despite his arriving at that conclusion, he was reluctant to implement it on his own, considering he had asked and been answered in the negative. So he came up with an innovative solution. The hetter mechira.

He sold his cat to a Muslim friend. The Muslim friend took the cat to the vet and had it spayed and then sold it back to the original Jewish owner.

There you have it. The hetter mechira being used to spay a pet.

The article concludes that Rav Ariel, the Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, supports the above solution, albeit in a limited situation and definitely not to be decided upon by the individual without first consulting the Rabbi to see if it is acceptable. The irony in this is that Rav Ariel is very strongly against the hetter mechira solution being used in the agricultural sense as a way around the shmitta issues.


  1. Actually, the article says that Rav Ariel supports hormonal spaying/neuterng, not a surgical procedure, and that he specifically did not support this guy's actions.

    Even if he would be in favor of this "heter mechira", it's not really an irony. Just because two things have similar nicknames, does not mean that they are in any way connected.

  2. I know. this was supposed to be a funny post.. not an attack or a criticism...

    again, he specifically did not support it only because he did it on his own. IIUC, He supports hormonal neutering in general. The surgical kind he supports via the solution of hetter mechira, but only upon asking a rav, not on a personal decision.

    yes, the irony is in name only, but the point of this was to be funny and ironic, as I began the post saying "another funny ramification.."

  3. Our blogs are much too redundant these days.

  4. you wove a much better post on it than I did though


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