# 2529 A Dog’s Chance


Q. Although our pets are an important and uniting part of our family, should my more frum siblings and I try to have my parents give them up? Is there a musar or Daas Torah, problem in keeping them?
Or the fact that we feed them is a mitzva factor that is worth to keep?
A. On question 905 we wrote; In general, we find conflicting attitudes in regards to dogs in our tradition. Megaleh Amukos points out that the gimatria of “kelev ra’a” or bad dog is 322 same as the avoda zarah of Baal Tzefon. However, the numerical value of “kelev tov” or good dog equals Eliahu. This alludes to the aphorism (Bava Kama 60b) if the dogs yowl, the Angel of Death is entering the city, if they revel, Eliahu Hanovi is coming.
Rosh Simchosi (Vaero p. 462) quotes Mekubalim that maintain that regarding the singing of shira to Hashem, it is the “k’lavim dik’dusha” who sing shira and on whom the pasuk (Shemos 11: 7) says: “And to the Bnei Yisroel no dog will bark.” Yet, he also quotes the saying that the one who speaks lashon hora’a will reincarnate in a dog (see P’esachim 116a.)
We also find that the mechir kelev or monies obtained from a dog’s sale, cannot be used for the purchase of a korban and this funds are comparable to the wages of a harlot. Adding to its discredit, is that the dog was punished because he was in the group of the three who continued cohabitation on Noach’s Teva (Sanhedrin 108b.)
The Egyptians, like other monster oppressors and devil tyrants in history, used trained savage and ferocious dogs to watch over their prisoners and slaves, ready to tear them apart, and prevent their escape.
Historically, there is a strong traditional reluctance to dog ownership, because of the possible damage that they can inflict on others, reflecting also numerous negative sayings in the Talmud, Midrashim and Zohar.
An old Yidish adage says that if a Yid owns a dog, either the dog is not a dog or the Yid is not a Yid.
Then again Divrei Yosher (Sanhedrin p. 101} quotes the saying that “kelev” stands for “kulo lev,” he is all heart and totally bonds with his master to become man’s best friend.
Dogs, have millennia-long history of close relations, unconditional loyalty, and companionship with humans, often down to their very last breath. They can be trained to save human lives, guide the blind and support the invalid, and offer essential friendship to the lonely elderly. They save the lives of the lost or buried in ruins and cave ins, detect explosives and prevent drug crime. They can sniff the presence of certain cancers and detect potentially dangerous rises and falls in sugar levels in people with diabetes. The list is indeed long.
To summarize, a dog is basically a reflection of his master and the values he cares for.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that maintaining a dog depends on the nature and training of the animal, and in the particular needs of the family or individual.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a


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