Sunday, February 5, 2012

So much for Shabbos Shirah

We put out a bird-feeder bell before Shabbos, as part of our Shabbos Shirah celebrations. No birds braved the freezing cold over Shabbos, but we had hopes for the rest of the week...

...Until just now, when I heard a thump outside and got this picture:

Those are evil-looking eyes.

I don't suppose raccoons ate the manna left out on Shabbos by Dasan and Aviram?

Now that we're discussing Shabbos Shirah and leaving food for birds, here's a halachic note on the subject:

May I feed wild birds on Shabbat Shirah?

There is an old custom of leaving grain or bread for birds on Shabbat Shirah. Some suggest it is a reward for their song at the Sea; others link it to the way the birds ate the false manna dispersed by Dasan and Aviram on Shabbat.

Some oppose this practice, insisting that food be left out before Shabbat. This is because the sages forbade feeding wild animals on Shabbat (1) because there may be strain involved and (2) because one might forget the laws of Shabbat and trap these creatures. They permitted only feeding domesticated animals which depend on us for food.

Other authorities defend the practice of putting out food on Shabbat Shirah, arguing that there is no strain involved and that the birds are beyond trapping when the food is placed outside. Further, we are doing it not for the birds' sake, but for the sake of our own custom.

(Maharam Lublin to Beitzah 23b; Magen Avraham 324:7; Tosefes Shabbos 324:17; Mishneh Berurah 324:31; Aruch haShulchan Orach Chaim 324:3; Tzitz Eliezer 14:28)


  1. I never remember the bread crumbs until after Shabbat has started. Maybe next year I'll rely on these more lenient opinions and put some out.

  2. Love the picture! Our racoons didn't partake in the bird's feast but our squirrels gorged themselves. Still plenty left for the birds still around who came in for their treat.

    We put out the food right before Shabbos. Since it gets dark quickly the birds don't come for it until the next day, Shabbos day, anyway. We cover both opinions in this way.

  3. My kids were also asking about feeding the birds.

  4. Shlomo, Neil-
    As always, ask your local Rav for psak...

    I think had we used regular birdfeed and not the bell, we would have been fine. Raccoons don't actually eat birdseed, they just love the challenge of a lock. Proof: This morning the bell was on the ground, pried open, and the bell was largely intact. Guess it's like leaving something locked in front of children.

  5. Racoons always seem to knock over my trash cans. I don't mind them hanging out but can't say I like picking up after them.

    kind of like kids. ;)