The stupid, greedy, filthy job product | Mark Levenson

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The ancient Israelites did not assume considerably of puppies, which is a disgrace due to the fact they do seem to be to have assumed much about them. Think of an epithet you would not want to have hurled at you, and some prophet or psalmist seems to have hurled it at the closest mutt. It is enough to make a pet dog lover cry.

Here’s Rabbi Judah Elijah Schochet: “The puppy is 1 of the several animals virtually invariably spoken of in damaging and derogatory terms [in Scripture]. There evidently was tiny individual relationship involving biblical man and the doggy. Puppies are described as currently being noisy (Psalms 59:7-14], greedy [Isaiah 56:11], stupid [Isaiah 56:10], filthy [Proverbs 26:11]… The time period ‘dog’ is utilized as an insult to individuals [I Kings 22:38]. In addition, ‘dog’ appears to have been a derogatory designation for male prostitutes [Deuteronomy 23:19].”

To a doggy lover, this ancient prejudice can not be excused—but it can be described. The Jews, freshly freed from slavery in Egypt, wanted advice in how to dwell, specifically in knowing by which stars to steer their spiritual life. The Egyptians worshipped puppies (consider Anubis) between a menagerie of deities. For Jews to do the exact same would deny the truth of the matter of monotheism. It would be rank ingratitude to the God to whom they owed their independence. The pet of Scripture experienced to be put in its put, not for its sake, but for ours.

We Jews really do not let go of our traditions flippantly, so it’s no shock that the biblical prejudice versus pet dogs continued into the Talmudic period and further than. Dogs were called the most shameless of animals. Having in the market was eating like a puppy. Canine would bite the unwary or bring about miscarriages. The Zohar equated puppies with Amalek. Learn folklorist Howard Schwartz relates that when the Kabbalist Joseph della Reina sought to free the Messiah from the forces of evil, these forces—Ashmodei and Lilith—appeared to him as black pet dogs. When the demons killed him, he was reincarnated as a black puppy himself and went mad.

There are reasons visceral as properly as theological for the Jewish antipathy towards dogs. From the Crusades to the Pogroms to the Holocaust, the connection amongst Jews and dogs generally saw the former fleeing the business enterprise finishes of the latter, set on them by anti-Semitic persecutors. If Jews have a racial memory of canine, it’s not a content a person. No question a Yiddish proverb (repeat it with me now, Shtisel enthusiasts) sums up the relationship this way: “A Jew with a canine? Both it is not a Jew or it’s not a canine.”

And still, the Sages also authorized for a different, optimistic, perspective of dogs. It was a view produced attainable due to the fact, in the rabbinic era, animal worship was no more time a risk to Judaism. In the Jerusalem Talmud, a fable of Rabbi Meir relates that “after herdsmen had milked a cow, a snake came and drank of the milk, and a pet dog noticed it drinking. When the herdsmen sat down to partake of the milk, the dog began to bark [warningly] at them, but they did not comprehend what this barking intended. Last but not least, the canine sprang ahead, drank of the [venom-spattered] milk, and died. When the herdsmen buried him, they established a monument above him, which to this day is called the Dog’s Monument.” (Sefer Ha-Aggadah). So, the Talmud anticipates Western literature’s Greyfriar’s Bobby and A Dog of Flanders by 1,500 several years.

The Rabbis also inserted the canine into the tale of Cain and Abel. In Genesis Rabba, they talk about the mother nature of the Mark of Cain that God bestows on history’s initial murderer. It is a horn. It is leprosy. No, states Rav it is a doggy.

1 can regard the pet as Cain’s protector and companion. But the Chofetz Chaim, as cited by Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, sees extra: Throughout the brothers’ battle, Abel pinned Cain to the ground, but relented when Cain begged for his daily life. The minute he was cost-free, instead of demonstrating gratitude to his brother, Cain struck. The Chofetz Chaim explains that “there is no animal on earth fairly like the canine – that demonstrates such enjoy, appreciation, and devotion to its owner in trade for very little far more than a number of scraps… By giving him a dog, Hashem was providing [Cain] a constant reminder of his deficiency of hakaras ha-tov [gratitude].”

Dogs also have their spot, and their reward, in the story of the Exodus from Egypt. When God informs Moses of the imminent tenth plague, the slaying of the initially born, He suggests: “There shall be a fantastic outcry in the complete land of Egypt these as there has hardly ever been and these types of as there shall by no means be all over again. But in opposition to all the Small children of Israel, no doggy shall whet its tongue, from neither person nor beast, so that you shall know that the Lord will have differentiated concerning Egypt and Israel.” (Exodus, 11:6-7)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle could only conceive of a solitary puppy accomplishing nothing in the evening-time, but Torah presents us an whole country of them. Not a dog barks or howls from the Jews, signifying the tranquility they enjoy though the Egyptians suffer the horrors of the final plague. At the time the Jews get their freedom, the dog is singled out for reward: “People of holiness shall you be to Me you shall not consume flesh of an animal that was torn in the industry to the dog shall you throw it.” (Exodus 22:30-31)

The Sages say that treyfe meat wasn’t the dog’s only reward. In addition, God watches about canine in return for their silence on that terrible night time. Even much more, puppies will lead in singing God’s praises in the Environment to Occur, in accordance to the Yalkut Shimoni as cited by Rav Yissocher Frand. But why this sort of extravagant riches simply for trying to keep quiet? Rav Frand cites Rav Mordechai Ezrachi that canine have been regarded for their brazenness. “Simply retaining quiet” represented “the supreme self-advancement feasible for that creature,” and perfectly worth their reward. It’s a lesson in mussar for us as nicely.

While custom urges us to study from the doggy, in some cases the education goes the other way. Rabbi Label Lam recounts the joke about a dude who statements his dog can do anything at all it is commanded. His friend accepts the obstacle, throws a stick throughout the property, and tells the puppy, “fetch!” The doggy seems to be at him in disgust. “All working day extensive folks convey to me what to do,” complains the canine. “Roll above! Soar! Down! Good dog, terrible pet! Sit! Remain! Heel! I just cannot acquire it any more. I loathe it. I would like I have been by no means born!”

The astonished good friend is dumbstruck in advance of finally handling to say, “All I asked you to do was fetch.”

“Oh!” claims the pet dog apologetically. “I considered you stated ‘kvetch.’”

Mark Levenson is a journalist, dramatist, screenwriter, and brief tale writer whose work in Jewish fantasy has won honors from The Nationwide Foundation for Jewish Culture and the American Jewish University. He is at get the job done on a novel of Jewish fantasy. Observe him at