Respect and Compassion - Shabbat 51
In the second half of today’s page, the Mishnah text under discussion concerns the circumstances under which animals may go out and about on Shabbat. We should recall that Biblical Shabbat law commands rest not only for the landowner, but for everyone and everything:
Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is inside your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. (Deuteronomy 5:13-14)
So when the Mishnah specifies what kind of controlling device (a bit, rope, or chain) specific animals may be wearing on Shabbat, the Talmud explains that one wearing a device intended for another could be considered a burden, and thus prohibited. There is some debate about a muzzle/collar [soger], but the resolution is that since its goal would be to protect the animal, it is indeed permitted. The attention to this detail, the compassion for the rest of others of other species, deserves to be highlighted here.
Rabbi Adam Chalom