Hashem commanded Noach in Bereishis 6:22 to bring all types of food into the Teiva for you (Noach and family) and them (all animals) to eat. The Gemara in Berachos 40a brings in the name of Rav Yehuda, in the name of Rav, that one must feed his animals first; only thereafter may he eat, as the posuk in Shema says, “I shall give grass in the field for your animals and then you shall eat.” The question is, why did Hashem command Noach to first take food for himself and afterwards to take food for the animals?
There are a number of ways to answer this question. The first one is that there is only a chiyuv for a person to feed the animal before himself if the animal belongs to him. These animals that Noach took into the teivah were hefker. A second tirutz is that when it came to preparing food, Hashem told him to first prepare food for the humans and then prepare food for the animals, but once he was on the teiva, Noach fed the animals first. The reason for this is that when there is a sakana and there is not enough food for both the human and the animal, the human comes first. A third answer is from the Maharil Diskin who said in the name of his son that since people could not eat animals, only vegetables and fruit, before the mabul, the people only had ownership of the animals that could work for them. This type of ownership is called kinyan peiros and we pasken that kinyan peiros is not like a kinyan in the guf of the animal so these animals did not belong to Noach.
A fourth answer is based on the Yad Efraim Orach Chaim 167 in the name of the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh Bereishis 24:19 that says in the time of sakana, or when a person is in tzaar, the person eats first. Feeding the animals in the teivah was a big tzaar to Noach as he had to constantly feed them. He therefore was allowed to eat first. The fifth answer is based on the Mishna Halachos Vol 11:139 that explains the reason why a person needs to feed his animal first is because as we say in Mincha on Shabbos,“ Adam and a beheima Hashem helps.” Since we are saved in the zchus of our helping the animals, they need to be fed first. During the Mabul the opposite held true; the animals were saved in the zechus of Noach. It therefore stands to reason that Noach should eat first.
The simple answer could be that since this took place before Mattan Torah we can’t bring proof from this. However, the problem with this line of reasoning is that we do learn things from Rivkah. We do learn from our avos and imahos as they kept the Torah, whereas Noach did not keep the complete Torah.
We see the importance and sensitivity one must have to all creations around him. May we use our sensitivity to one another and thereby evoking the sensitivity of Hashem to us and we should be redeemed!