On the other hand, the Talmud (Baba Kama 79b) writes that one is forbidden to own a dog unless it is securely chained (if the dog is securely chained it will neither do any damage nor frighten anyone with its bark). Moreover, the rabbis of the Talmud (Baba Kama 83a) pronounced a curse upon one who owns dogs. These statements seem to apply to all dogs.
Rambam (Hilchot Nizkei Mammon 5:9), in fact, rules that it is forbidden to raise any dog unless it is secured by chains "since dogs frequently cause considerable damage," Rambam apparently believes that Rabbi Yishmael's permissive ruling is contradicted by the Mishanah and Gemara of Baba Kama 79b and 83a, respectively. Rabbi Yishmael accordingly would be the sole authority who permits raising kofri dogs, and thus Rambam believes that the consensus of opinion among talmudic authorities rejects his view. 3
Most Rishonim, however, including Smag, 4 Yeraim, 5 Tur, 6 and Hagahot Maimoniyot7 disagree with Rambam and limit this prohibition to "evil dogs." These authorities believe that the statements that appear on Baba Kama 79b and 83a are limited to "evil dogs". 8
Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 409:3) rules in accordance with the opinions which limit the prohibition to an "evil dog". The Achronim almost without exception accept these opinions as well. 9 Rabbi Yaakov Emden10 appears to be the lone authority who believes one is forbidden to own any type of dog.
The question, though, is how to define an "evil dog". Rashi (explaining why the Mishnah (Baba Kama 79b) forbids raising a dog unless it is chained) writes "it bites and it barks, thereby causing pregnant women to miscarry." Rashi can be interpreted in one of two ways (since he uses the Hebrew letter vav which sometimes means "and " and sometimes means "or"). The first possibility is that an evil dog is one that both bites and barks, and the second possibility is that it is one that either bites or barks. Rabbi Shlomo Luria (Yam Shel Shlomo Baba Kama 7:45) is inclined to adopt the second possibility and suggests that a dog is considered to be "evil" if it barks, even if it does not bite. The reason for this, the Talmud recounts, is that a dog's bark11 may cause a woman to miscarry, the Talmud (Baba Kama 83a), in fact, records two incidents of women who miscarried because they were frightened by dogs. Therefore, Rabbi Luria suggests that the only dogs one may own are the kofri dogs that Rabbi Yishmael explicitly asserts are permitted. Rabbi Luria seems to indicate that one is permitted to own these dogs even if they bark. Apparently, since people are aware that these dogs are not harmful, they know that they need not fear these dogs' bark.
Nevertheless, Rabbi Luria limits his ruling to "God-fearing individuals" and concludes his discussion by station "therefore, we must excuse the Jewish people (i.e., those who own dogs which bark but do not bite) but praised is one who is careful [to limit his ownership to kofri type dogs] and blessings should be conferred upon him." The implication is that there is some halachic justification for those Jews who own dogs who bark but do not bite. The justification seems to be based on an interpretation of Rashi's description of an "evil dog" as one which both bites and barks. Accordingly, only a dog which bites would frighten a woman with its bark and possibly cause a miscarriage.
Shulchan Aruch Harav (Hilchot Shmirat Guf V'nefesh, number three) adopts a similar, albeit somewhat more firm, stance on this issue. He notes that Jews commonly own dogs that bark but do not bite and that some authorities justify the practice by limiting the definition of an evil dog to one that bites. Shulchan Aruch Harav asserts, however, that this view is rejected by the consensus of halachic authorities and that the category of "evil dogs" includes those dogs which bark even though they do not bite. Therefore, he concludes that "all God-fearing Jews should be certain to keep their dogs that bark tied up in iron chains while people are awake, even if their dogs merely bark but do not bite. On the other hand, Knesset Hagedola (Choshen Mishpat 409:4) notes that common practice among Jews is not to accept the stringent view of Yam Shel Shlomo and Shulchan Aruch Harav. He indicates that the custom is to own dogs which bark as long as they do not bite.
Although Knesset Hagedola writes that common practice among observant Jews is not to follow the opinion of Yam Shel Shlomo, it appears proper to follow the latter's opinion. First Shulchan Aruch Harav, which is recognized as a major halachic work, supports Rabbi Luria's position. Second, the Talmud considers a dog's fearsome bark to be a public nuisance. Hence, if one chooses to own a dog, one should be certain not only that the dog does not bite, but also that the creature does not frighten people with its bark. However, if one finds it absolutely necessary to raise a dog that may cause harm (for protection, for example), one must be certain that the animal is tied up securely at times when it may do damage either with its bite or its bark.
Rabbi Yaakov Emden (Sheilat Yaavetz, number 17) adds a further restriction to the type of dog one may own. He writes that one is permitted to own a dog if the creature serves an economic or protective purpose. However, he strongly condemns ownership of a dog as a pet as being a waste of time and precisely the [abhorrent] behavior of the uncircumcised."
Nevertheless, Rabbi Emden does not marshal sources to support this position and appears to constitute a minority view.12 Shulchan Aruch and most authorities limit the talmudic prohibition to ownership of "evil dogs". The clear implication is that one may own a dog for any reason, provided it is not an evil dog.13 Moreover, the Talmud indicates that Jews used various animals for recreational purposes. The Mishnah (Shabbat 90b) relates that children used to play with a certain type of locust. The Talmud (Baba Batra 20a) tells of a certain type of bird known as "kalanita", which can be used by a child to play. These two passages seem to demonstrate that the Mishnah has no objections to keeping animals for enjoyment contrary to the position of Rabbi Emden. Rabbi Emden might respond that these passages do not discuss dogs and do not prove that one may keep a dog as a pet. Rabbi Emden might agree that one may own a pet which does not require much attention. Perhaps he believes that only keeping a dog as pet mimics "the abhorrent behavior of the uncircumcised."
Our discussion regarding dogs appears to apply to ownership of other animals as well. Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 261:1) rules that one may kill an "evil cat" which harms children. Once again the rule is limited to an "evil" animal. The general principle according to most authorities is that one may own a pet provided that the animal does not pose a danger to people or property.14
There exists, however, a controversy as to whether the keeping of the prohibition constitutes meritorious conduct which is beyond the essential requirements of Torah law (midat chassidut) or is a prohibition in the full sense of the term. While emphasizing the importance of doing more than what Torah law requires, Rambam (Hilchot Avadim 9:8) describes two examples of exemplary conduct not required by law: 1. The early sages fed their slaves the same type of food they themselves ate. 2. The early sages fed their slaves and animals before they fed themselves. It is clear that Rambam understands this rule as recommended righteous behavior but nevertheless not required by the letter of the law.15
Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 167:18), however, cites as halacha the talmudic statement that one is forbidden to eat before feeding the animals he owns. In fact, elsewhere 271:12 he cites an opinion that this is a biblical prohibition.16 Biur Halacha (167:6 s.v. umikol makom) demonstrates that Ramo and other authorities reject the opinion that this is a biblical prohibition. Furthermore, Chayei Adam (45:1), Mishnah Berurah (167:40), and Aruch Hashulchan (167:13) all cite this law as a prohibition. Accordingly, one should take care to properly observe this law, since most authorities view this as a rabbinic prohibition, not just exemplary behavior.17 It should be noted, though, that many authorities limit this prohibition to eating and permit drinking prior to feeding one's animals.18
There is considerable debate whether it is forbidden to derive benefit from a mixture of milk and meat from kosher animals which have not been slaughtered in accordance with halachic standards. Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna (Keritut 3:4) writes that meat which is prohibited because it is not slaughtered properly, cannot be assigned the additional prohibition of a mixture of milk and meat (ein issur chal al issur). This is not merely an academic issue, because a Jew is permitted to benefit from (though he is forbidden to eat) improperly slaughtered meat but is forbidden to benefit from a mixture of milk and meat. If Rambam's opinion is accepted as normative, then one may feed an animal commercial pet food which contains a mixture of milk and meat, since it is most likely24 that the meat ingredients are not kosher. However, since many authorities do not accept Rambam's view as normative, it is best to avoid relying on this leniency, especially since a biblical violation may be involved.
On Passover, one is forbidden even to own chametz. Accordingly, care should be taken to either remove pet food which contains chametz from one's property or include it with the chametz that is to be sold to a non-Jew. However, Ashkenazic Jews, whose custom it is to avoid eating kitniyot (rice, legumes, and the like) on Passover are permitted to own and derive benefit from these foods on Passover. Hence, one may feed pets kitniyot during Passover.
(though debate exists regarding whether removal from females constitutes a biblical or rabbinic prohibition).30 The Talmud (Sanhedrin 56b) records a dispute whether the Torah forbids non-Jews to remove reproductive organs (even from animals not owned by a Jew), and Rishonim differ regarding which opinion is accepted as normative.31 Beit Shmuel (Even Haezer 5:16) rules that this controversy has not been resolved and when rendering halachic decisions a rabbinic decisor must consider the position that non-Jews are forbidden to remove reproductive organs. On the other hand, Aruch Hashulchan (Even Haezer 5:26) rules in accordance with what he perceives as the majority opinion, that non-Jews are not commanded concerning this prohibition.
A difference between the two opinions is whether we are forbidden on a biblical or rabbinic level to instruct a non-Jew to remove the reproductive organs of an animal (see Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 5:14 and comments of Chelkat Mechokeik and Beit Shmuel thereupon). If non-Jews are included in this command, then instructing a non-Jew to remove reproductive organs would be a biblical violation of "do not put a stumbling block in front of the blind' (Leviticus 19:14) which prohibits enabling and encouraging others to sin.32 On the other hand, if non-Jews are not included in this commandment, then the prohibition involved in instructing a non-Jew to remove reproductive organs is the general rabbinic prohibition which forbids a Jew to instruct a non-Jew to perform an act forbidden by the Torah on behalf of a Jew.
A practical difference between these two opinions is whether one may instruct a non-Jewish veterinarian to remove an animal's reproductive organs in order to alleviate the animal's suffering due to sickness. Whereas one may not violate a biblical prohibition to alleviate an animal's suffering, it would appear that one may violate the rabbinic prohibition to ask a non-Jew to do what a Jew may not do in order to alleviate suffering.33 Since Beit Shmuel, considered to be one of the most authoritative commentaries on the Even Haezer section of Shulchan Aruch, rules that one must consider the opinion which asserts that non-Jews are forbidden to remove reproductive organs, one should not ask a non-Jew to remove an animal's reproductive organs even to alleviate suffering.
Nevertheless, there are a number of possible solutions to this problem. Some of the most prominent halachic authorities34 of the nineteenth century record (with varying degrees of approval) a common practice among observant Jews who owned animals for commercial purposes. This involved selling an animal to a non-Jew and instructing this non-Jew to ask another non-Jew to spay the animal. The purpose of this procedure is to create a situation of "aiding an aider" (lifnei delifnei iver) - encouraging one person to encourage another to violate a Torah law - which is not a violation of "do not put a stumbling block in front of the blind."35 It also creates a situation of "amira leamira leakum" - instructing a non-Jew to instruct another non-Jew to perform an act a Jew may not do - which many authorities believe to be permissible.36 In addition, by transferring title of the animal to a non-Jew, one avoids the rabbinic penalty which requires one who has had his animal's reproductive organs removed to sell the creature.37
Although many contemporary halachic authorities38 believe it inappropriate to utilize this procedure with household pets for purposes of convenience (e.g. to eliminate unwanted litters or to prevent the animal from trying to leave the house), it is quite possible that one may do so if it is necessary to alleviate an animal's suffering due to sickness. Aruch Hashulchan would very likely agree with this conclusion since he rules that non-Jews are not forbidden to remove reproductive organs. Beit Shmuel might also agree since in using this procedure one may avoid violating "do not put a stumbling block in front of the blind." In addition, there is greater room for leniency when a female pet is involved since many authorities believe neutering a female to be a rabbinic prohibition, and a minority opinion (Taz, Even Haezer 5:6) believes that one is permitted to neuter a female animal if the procedure is performed for the creature's benefit.
A different solution to this problem has been offered by Rabbi I. Y. Unterman (Otzar Haposkim I, pp. 164-165). He describes a procedure of neutering which he believes constitutes only a rabbinic prohibition since it does not involve direct removal of reproductive organs. Instead, the blood supply to the testicles is eliminated, the testicles begin to shrivel, and the animal is rendered sterile. Rabbi Unterman asserts that one who performs this procedure violates the prohibition indirectly (grama) which is permitted on a Torah level and forbidden by the rabbis. The authorities who rule that non-Jews are forbidden to neuter animals concede that non-Jews are forbidden only to perform biblically forbidden acts of neutering. Non-Jews are not required to follow rabbinic legislation since, unlike Jews, they are not obligated to adhere to rabbinic rulings. According to this approach, one does not violate the prohibition of enabling another to sin if one instructs a non-Jew to perform this procedure. In addition, Rabbi Unterman writes that the prohibition to instruct a non-Jew to perform an act forbidden to a Jew does not apply to rabbinic prohibitions (other than the rabbinic prohibitions associated with the observance of Shabbat).39 Therefore, he rules that one may instruct a non-Jew to neuter an animal in this indirect manner. However, Rabbi Unterman cautions against implementing his opinion until eminent halachic authorities concur with this ruling. Hence, competent halachic guidance must be sought regarding whether one may follow this ruling.
The best solution to this problem seems to be the use of one of the many newly developed (though still experimental) alternatives to castration and ovariohysterectomy which do not involve removal (direct or indirect) of reproductive organs.40 There appears to be no halachic opposition to these methods since the animals are only rendered infertile. The prohibition of "sirus" appear to apply only to the removal of reproductive organs and not to causing the animal to become infertile. One must consult a competent halachic authority to ascertain the permissibility of any of these procedures.
The Rishonim, however, debate whether an animal which can be used to quiet a child from crying is considered to be muktza. Tosafot (Shabbat 45b s.v. hacha), Mordechai (Shabbat 316) and Hagahot Oshri (commenting on Rosh, Shabbat 3:21) cite authorities who believe that such animals are not muktza by virtue of the fact that they have utility. Yet Tosafot, Mordechai, Hagahot Oshri, and Rosh (cited in the responsa of Maharach Or Zarua, 82) reject these authorities because of two possible considerations. First, the fact that an animal can be used to quiet a child from crying is insufficient utility to render the creature no longer to be considered muktza machmat gufa. Second, the rabbis classified all animals as muktza regardless of whether a particular animal has utility on Shabbat and Yom Tov. This is an example of "lo plug rabbanan", rabbinic legislation which was instituted for a reason, yet embraces even the cases for which the reason does not apply Shulchan Aruch (308:39) appears to accept the position that all animals are considered to be muktza since Rabbi Karo states that animals are muktza without exception. Indeed, Shulchan Aruch Harav (308:78) rules stringently in this regard.43
The question arises, though, whether circumstances have changed since the time of the Rishonim. These authorities discuss animals which can possibly be used to amuse children but not animals whose entire purpose is to entertain and provide companionship to their owners. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (cited in Shmirat Shabat Kehilchata 27, footnote 96), in fact, raises the possibility of making this distinction, yet he rules that pets are muktza. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, Orach Chaim 4:16 and cited in "the halachos of Muktza" p. 7 of the Hebrew section, paragraph twenty-four) and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer, 5:26) also reject the possibility of making such a distinction. It appears that this question is contingent on one's acceptance of one of the two reasons (stated above) offered by the Rishonim) for why an animal that can be used to quiet a child from crying is muktza. If one adopts the position that the rabbis have deemed all animals to be muktza, regardless of their utility, then even household pets are to be included I this category. However, if one assumes the position that the possibility of using an animal to amuse a child is insufficient utility to remove it from being considered muktza, then a cogent argument can be made that a pet is sufficiently useful to the extent that one no longer can say that they have no purpose to their owners on Shabbat and Yom Tov, and hence are not muktza.44
Rabbi Shmuel David (Sheilot uteshuvot Meirosh Tzurim 38:6) concludes his discussion of this issue with a citation of the opinion of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein.
It is proper to conduct himself in accordance with the stringent opinion in this matter, since this appears to be the opinion of Tosafot, Mordechai, Hagahot Oshri, and Rosh. Yet one need not admonish those who practice in accordance with the lenient opinion in this matter. Since this issue is embroiled in a dispute amongst the Rishonim and the logic of those who rule leniently is compelling.However, even according to the stringent opinion it is reasonable to say that one may move a household pet to alleviate its suffering (Yabia Omer 5:26). This is because some authorities permit moving items which are undoubtedly muktza to spare an animal from suffering (see Mishnah Berurah 305:70 and Chazon Ish 52:16). Since the question as to whether household pets are muktza, is in dispute, there exists a s'fek s'feka, a double doubt, which would lead one to rule leniently in this ragard.45
It should be emphasized, though, that one may not violate Shabbat even to save an animal's life. One may, however, ask a non-Jew to do something forbidden for a Jew to do on Shabbat in order to alleviate an animal's suffering. In addition, one may give a sick animal medicine on Shabbat (see, generally, Mishnah Berurah 332:5,6, and 9 and Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 27:54-58).
The question arises, though, regarding identification tags which clearly benefit the animal, such as those which show that it has an owner and therefore should not be put to death for fear of rabies. Aruch Hashulchan (305:5), after some initial hesitation, rules stringently. He believes that halacha considers all identification markers to be in the category of items which a Jew may not permit his pet to wear in a public domain on Shabbat or Yom Tov. However, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (cited in Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 27, footnote 33) disagrees since these tags are worn for the benefit of the dog.
Rabbi Auerbach cautions, though, that if the tags are worn by the animal merely to verify that its owner has paid all the required taxes and fees associated with owning the animal, then the animal may not wear them since they serve only the needs of the owner. Rabbi Auerbach's ruling appears not to be limited to tags worn to prevent the animal's death. It seems to apply to any tag worn for the benefit of the animal, such as identification tags which allow the animal to be returned to its owner in case it is lost (provided that it is in the animal's interest to be with its owner).
The Talmud and Codes distinguish between three categories of animals.49 One category includes those animals regarding which, the talmud (Beitza 24a) writes, one would say "let us bring a trap and catch it." In other words, Rashi (ad. loc.) explains, one must expend great effort to catch this animal. It is prohibited on a biblical level to catch such an animal.50 At the other extreme are those animals which offer no resistance to their master. Regarding this type of animal the Talmud (Shabbat 128b) writes that one is forbidden to lift (because it is muktza) but is permitted to push so that they enter their quarters. No prohibitions of tzeida applies to such animals, since one cannot speak of capturing or hunting a completely obedient animal. Tzeida is an act of eliminating an animal's freedom and these animals have no freedom since they are completely obedient to their masters.
The middle category of animals is a subject of debate. This category includes those creatures who return to their masters at night but offer a limited degree of resistance when their masters seek to bring them home. Regarding such animals the Mishnah (Shabbat 107a) states "one who hunts a wild animal or bird that is in one's possession is exempt from punishment". Rashi (ad. loc.) explains that the exemption from punishment is based on the fact that these animals have already been tamed.
Some Rishonim (Rashba51, Ravya52, and Baal Haitur53), believe that the Mishnah's term "exempt from punishment" should in this instance be understood as implying complete permissibility since the animal already "has been caught." Other Rishonim (Rambam54, Tosafot55, and many other authorities56) believe that the Mishnah should be understood as stating that one who performs this act is exempt from punishment but has violated a rabbinic prohibition. This approach is supported by the fact that this is the way the term "exempt from punishment" is generally understood with the exception of three cases (see Shabbat 3a). these authorities believe that even though these animals have been tamed, capturing them is rabbinically prohibited because it has the appearance of trapping since these creatures offer some resistance to their masters. Biur Halacah (316:12 s.v. "V'yeish Omrim) urges one to do his best to follow the stringent opinion.57 The implication is that in case of great need one may follow the lenient opinion.58
Accordingly, the laws of tzeida depends on how well one's pet is disciplined. If when its master59 seeks to move it, the animal offers no resistance, then the prohibition of tzeida does not apply to the creature. If the animal returns to its quarters every evening without its master's intervention, but when the master seeks to bring the animal home it offers some resistance, the Rishonim disagree as to whether a rabbinic prohibition exists to trap this type of animal. In practice, Biur Halacha concludes that one should follow the stringent opinion absent great need. However, if an animal has rebelled and will not return by itself to its quarters and it resists its master, a biblical prohibition forbids catching this animal and under no circumstances (absent a possible threat to human life) may one attempt to trap this animal.
A practical application of these halachot occurs when one removes the leash of a pet to allow the animal to run freely in an open area one would be permitted to reattach the leash on the pet on Shabbat and Yom Tov only if the animal is obedient to its owner. However, if the animal is somewhat disobedient to its owner and resists its owner, it is best not to reattach the leash. It is proper not to remove the leash of such an animal in an open space in order to avoid the necessity of relying on the lenient opinion.
In addition, care needs to be taken to avoid "trapping" a less than obedient animal. For example, one should not put a leash on such an animal if the door to the house is not closed and one should not close the door to one's home unless the creature is already "trapped" (i.e., tied to a post or closed within a room). However, one can avoid the prohibition of "trapping" when opening a door by immediately filling the gap created with one's body and closing the door as one enters. One does not violate trapping in such case since an animal did not have an opportunity to escape.
Special care needs to be taken with birds in this regard. Unlike most pets which are considered to be "trapped" in one's home, many birds would not be considered to be trapped in one's home if great effort would be required to return the creature to its cage. Therefore, if a bird returns to its cage by itself but gives its owner some resistance when the latter seeks to return the former to its cage, then in case of great need one may return such a bird to its cage and/or close the door to its cage. However, if a bird does not return to its cage by itself, one is forbidden in all circumstances (absent possible danger to human life) to return such a bird to its cage or even to close the cage door in order to prevent the creature form escaping.
Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi states that synagogues and study halls are built to be used by Talmud scholars [to eat and drink there] ...Rabbi Imi instructed the teachers of youngsters [who were present in the synagogue during the course of the day] to permit even a marginal scholar to enter the synagogue with his donkey and his tools [or clothes].60
Accordingly, the Jerusalem Talmud regards permitting an animal to enter a synagogue or study hall to be no more disrespectful to the sanctity of these places than eating or drinking in them. Hence, argues Rabbi Feinstein, just as the practice has developed to permit eating and drinking in the synagogue, at the very least in case of urgent need,61 so too an animal should be permitted to enter the synagogue in case of urgent need. Even though these actions constitute disrespect for the synagogue they are permitted since synagogues outside of Israel are built on the condition that their sanctity does not forbid their use for mundane purposes in case of urgent need. Enabling a blind person to attend the synagogue most certainly constitutes urgent need, insists Rabbi Feinstein, and accordingly a guide dog may be brought by its blind master into the synagogue.
Rabbi Feinstein also suggests (although he expresses some hesitation concerning this line of reasoning) that bringing an animal into the synagogue for mundane purposes (such as protecting the animal from theft) undoubtedly constitutes an expression of dishonor to the sanctity of the synagogue. However, when an animal is brought into the synagogue to enable a blind person to pray with the community, no disrespect is shown towards the holiness of the synagogue.62
Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein63 has cited Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik as permitting a blind man to bring a guide dog into a synagogue, albeit utilizing a different approach than that of Rabbi Feinstein. Rabbi Soloveitchik points out that the Talmud's (Brachot 63a) standard for what constitutes permissible behavior in the synagogue is what one would permit to be done in his home. The Talmud states that just as one would not allow a stranger to use his house as a shortcut, so too one is forbidden to use the synagogue as a shortcut. However, just as one would allow a stranger to enter his home and not require him to remove his shoes, so too one is not required to remove his shoes when he enters a synagogue. Similarly, argues Rabbi Soloveitchik, just as one would certainly permit a blind person to enter his home with his seeing-eye dog, so too a blind person is permitted to enter the synagogue with his guide dog.64
However, a number of authorities rule that a blind person is forbidden to bring a guide dog into the synagogue. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kasher (Torah Shleima XV, p. 147) points out that the Torah (Deuteronomy 23:19) forbids one to offer a sacrifice which was purchased with money acquired from the sale of a dog. Accordingly, Rabbi Kasher asserts, it is certainly forbidden to bring a dog into the Temple area. Rabbi Kasher argues that since many early authorities consider the sanctity of the synagogue to be of biblical origin and similar to the sanctity of the Temple, then just as one is forbidden to bring a dog into the Temple, so too one is forbidden to bring a dog into the synagogue.
Rabbi Kasher's argument is not persuasive. The fact that an activity is forbidden in the Temple does not at all imply that it is forbidden in a synagogue.65 The laws regarding the sanctity of the Temple differ from those regarding the sanctity of the synagogue. Many activities are forbidden in the Temple and yet are permissible in the synagogue, such as wearing shoes (see Berachot 62b). furthermore, Rabbi Kasher fails to prove that one is forbidden to bring a guide dog into the Temple.
Two other prominent rabbis argue that a guide dog may not be brought into the synagogue. Rabbi Yaakov Breisch (Chelkat Yaakov 3:87) and Rabbi Solomon Braun (Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha 13:2) cite chatam sofer's assertion (Orach Chaim 31) that if non-Jews forbid a particular activity in their place of worship then if Jews were to permit that activity it would constitute a desecration of God's name. Hence, they argue, since non-Jews do not permit animals in their houses of worship, it would be a desecration of God's name to permit a guide dog in the synagogue. Regardless of the merits of this argument,66 it appears to be factually incorrect. In fact, the various Christian denominations in this country do not have a policy forbidding a blind person to enter their houses of worship with a guide dog.67
Rabbi Breisch's other criticisms of Rabbi Feinstein's responsum include concern that a guide dog will disrupt prayer services. However, those familiar with seeing-eye dogs report that these animals are well trained and are very unlikely to cause a disruption. Rabbi Breisch also writes that he cannot imagine why there is no alternate means of enabling a blind person to attend the synagogue. The fact is, however, that there is a training period in which the dog and the blind individual must be together at all times. Though Rabbi Breisch has other criticisms of Rabbi Feinstein's responsum, Rabbi Feinstein's argument appears far more persuasive than that of Rabbi Breisch.
1. see Ramo, Choshen Mishpat 409:3; Yam Shel Shlomo Baba Kama 7:45; Knesset Hagedola Choshen Mishpat 409:4; Shulchan Aruch Harav Hilchot Shmirat Guf Venefesh, number 3.
2. See Rambam, Hilchot Rotzeach, 11.
3. There are two possible explanations of how Rambam interpret Rabbi Natan's statement which is cited Baba Kama 15b. One possibility is that, like Rabbi Yishmael, his opinion is a minority view which the majority opinion (presented on Baba Kama 79b and Baba Kama 83a) rejects. The other possibility is that the biblical prohibition applies only to an "evil dog". However, the rabbis extended this prohibition to all dogs. A careful examination of Rambam Hilchot Nizkei Mammon 5:9 appears to indicate that the prohibition is indeed on a rabbinic level.
4. Positive commandment, number 66.
5. Number 210.
6. Choshen Mishpat 409.
7. Hilchot Rotzeach chapter eleven, number three.
8. See Yam Shel Shlomo Baba Kama 7:45.
9. Ibid. See also Shulchan Aruch harav, Hilchot Shmirat Guf V'nefesh number 3, Tosafot Yom Tov Baba Kama 7:7, and Aruch Hashulchan Choshen Mishpat 409:4.
10. Sheilat Yaavetx, number 17. Rabbi Emden's position appears to be contradictory. First he states that it is forbidden to raise any dog and dismisses Rabbi Yishmael's permissive ruling as a lone view which the halacha rejects. However, later in the responsum he writes that it is permissible to possess dogs which are necessary for economic or security reasons.
11. It seems that this refers only to a frightening bark and not to every dog's bark. Only a frightening bark would be likely to cause a miscarriage.
12. A number of authorities disapprove of keeping animals as pets. Such as Rabbi Yehudah He-chasid (Sefer Chassidim number 1038) who condemns owning birds as "adding nonsense" (Midrash Kohelet 6:11 seems to be the source for this statement). He adds that the money one spends on these birds should have been donated to charity. The Sephardic halachic authority, Rabbi Chaim Pelaggi (Tochachat Chaim, Perashat Beshatlach, page 126) cites this opinion of Rabbi Yehuda He-cahsid. Rabbi Yaakov Breisch (Chelkat Yaakov 3:87) also writes that it is inconsistent with the spirit of Judaism to own a dog. However, he does not offer any proof to this assertion. In addition, a number of authorities object to owning dogs based on Kabblistic teachings (Pele Yoetz, s.v. kelev). However, these comments have not been incorporated into mainstream halachic works such as the Shulchan Aruch. It should be noted, though, that it is unquestionably permissible for a blind person to own a guide dog. These dogs are well trained and do not pose a danger. In addition, owning such an animal does not mimic "the abhorrent behavior of the uncircumcised" since the owner has a great need for the dog. It also should be noted that a number of rabbinic authorities believe placing a bird into a cage to be a violation of tzaar baalei chaim - the prohibition to cause unnecessary pain to animals (see Rabbi J. David Bleich, Contemporary Halachic Problems, volume three, page 195, footnote 3).
13. The Talmud (Baba Metzia 71a) urges a widow not to own a dog because she will be suspected of committing bestiality (presumably, this rule is limited to a widow who lives alone). Shulchan Aruch (Even Haezer 22:18) codifies this rule but Taz (ad. Loc. 10) approvingly cites the opinion of Tosafot (Baba Metzia 71a s.v. lo) who state that this law is a "mere stringency" and that it is essentially permissible for a widow to own a dog "since the people of Israel are not suspected of committing bestiality" (see Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 24:1).
14. Three essays have recently been published on this topic in Hebrew. Rabbi Yaakov Navon, "Gidul Kelavim, Nizkam, Vehamischar Bahem" (Techumin IX, pp. 171-190), presents the opinions of Rabbi Luria and Rabbi Emden as authoritative. He fails to note both the Knesset Hagedola's recording of the common practice among Jews to follow a more lenient ruling than that of Rabbi Luria and the latter's defense of the practice of those who own dogs which bark but do not bite. Moreover, he fails to note that Rabi Emden's position is rejected by most authorities. Rabbi Yigal Ariel's essay, "Gidul Baalei Chaim," (Techumin VIII, pp. 243-258) concludes that it is preferable to restrict one's ownership of dogs to those which do not frighten people with their bark (in harmony with the position of Yam Shel Shlomo). In his book "Chayto Aretz", Rabbi Menachem Slay examines the propriety of owning pets purely for recreational purposes in a chapter entitled "Hachzakat Chayot Bayit Ketachbiv" pp. 53-65, and provides a wealth of sources on this topic. He notes positive aspects of pet ownership such as acquiring an appreciation of the magnificence of God's creation. It is worthwhile to note that there exist in classical rabbinic writings positive comments regarding dogs' loyalty to their masters (see Horiyot 13a, Jerusalem Talmud, Terumot 8:3, Bereishit Rabbah 22:12, Bereishit Rabbah 73:11, and Pesikta D'Rav Kahane, Paragraph 10 (Beshalach)). On the other hand, Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 571) in his explanation of why the Torah (Deuteronomy 23:19) forbids offering a sacrifice purchased with money acquired from the sale of a dog writes "it is well known that dogs are brazen and mean."
15. The fact that Rabbi Joseph Karo does not record this rule in the Shulchan Aruch would seem to indicate that he agrees with the Rambam's position in this regard. He writes only (Orach Chaim 167:6) that saying "feed the animals" does not constitute an improper interruption (hefsek) between a blessing recited over food and eating the food.
16. Rabbi Yaakov Emden (Sheilot Yaavetz 17) seems also to maintain that it is biblically forbidden to eat before feeding one's animals.
17. Rabbi Yaakov Emden (Sheilot Yaavetz 17) writes that this law essentially does not apply to dogs and cats because "food is available for them practically everywhere since they can forage for food in garbage and the like and are not dependent on their owners for survival". (Rabbi Emden's ruling is cited by Shaarei Teshuva 167:9 and Chayei Adam 45:1). However, Rabbi Emden's ruling does not seem applicable to some animals which are confined to a house or yard and cannot find food on their own.
18. Mishnah Berurah (167:40) and Aruch Hashulchan (167:13).
19. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 448:6; Taz, Yoreh Deah 94:6. For summaries of the discussion concerning feeding mixtures of milk and meat to ownerless animals see Yad Avraham, Yoreh Deah 94:3 and Badei Hashulchan, Yoreh Deah 87:10.
20. Ramo, Yoreh Deah 87:1; Shach, Yoreh Deah 87:2; Taz, Yoreh Deah 87:1
21. Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 87:1-3.
22. Much Commercial pet food contains horse meat and does not pose a halachic problem. In addition, much pet food is ground and not cooked and does not pose a halachic problem. However, steamed pet food is considered to be cooked insofar as mixtures of milk and meat are concerned. Even though many authorities rule that steaming is not considered to be cooking in the context of the prohibition of eating food cooked by a non-Jew (see Yabia Omer Yoreh Deah 5:9:2), this is not applicable to the laws of mixtures of milk and meat. These authorities regard the process of steaming foods to be analogous to the process of smoking foods, and smoked foods are not included in the prohibition of eating foods cooked by a non-Jew (Yoreh Deah 113:13). However, most authorities rule that smoking food is considered to be cooking food in the context of the laws of mixtures of milk and meat (see Aruch Hashulchan 87:72), and therefore, regarding these laws, steaming is considered to be cooking. Furthermore, one of the considerations of those who rule that steaming food is analogous to smoking food in the context of food cooked by a non-Jew is that the prohibition involved is rabbinic in nature, in which case one may be lenient in case of doubt. However, since in the context of the laws of mixing of meat and milk a biblical prohibition may be involved, the possibility of ruling leniently in this context is significantly diminished.
23. It is unclear whether Rambam maintains this position in the Mishneh Torah: see Hilchot Maachalot Assurot 9:6, and Dagul Merevavah Yoreh Deah 87:3.
24. One may assume that the meat in the pet food is not kosher since most of the meat in this country is either not from a kosher animal or has not been slaughtered properly (kol d'parish mei'ruba parish).
25. Pri Megadim, in his introduction to the laws of mixtures of milk and meat, and Chatam Sofer, Responsum 92. Dagul Merevavah, Yoreh Deah 87:3, indicates that one may rely on the Rambam's view in Aruch Hashulchan, Yoreh Deah 87:12, accepts this leniency of the Rambam without any reservations or limitations. For an analysis of this issue see the essay by Rabbi Menachem Genack, "Basar Bechalav Bevasar Neveilah" Mesorah III, pp. 92-96. No halachic problem is involved with the purchase of non-kosher food on behalf of one's pets, see Shach, Yoreh Deah 117:3, Aruch Hashulchan, Yoreh Deah 117:19, and Kerem Tzvi number 55.
26. Mishnah Berurah 448:33 and Aruch Hashulchan 448:12-13. Some authorities question the validity of the sale of the animal if the animal remains in his home and a gentile comes and feeds it chametz. Placing the animal in the gentile's home strengthens the validity of the sale Aruch Hashulchan 448:13) and avoids the halachic difficulties that are involved when a non-Jew brings chametz into one's home during Passover.
27. Care should be taken to ascertain that the animal was not included in the general sale of chametz to a non-Jew. If the animal was already sold, then one may not sell the animal to another non-Jew.
28. Shulchan Aruch 453:1. For a discussion of kitniyot see Rabbi Alfred Cohen, "Kitniyot in Halachic Literature, Past and Present," Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society VI, pp. 65-78.
29. Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 5:11.
30. For a summary of this issue see Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Iggerot Moshe Even Haezer IV, 34 and Rabbi Joseph Ozarowski, "Tubal Ligation and Jewish Law: An overview," Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society VII, pp. 42-52.
31. For a summary of the issue see Otzar Haposkim 5:76.
32. This prohibition applies even to encouraging or enabling a non-Jew to violate the Noahide code, see Pesachim 22b. For a thorough discussion of this prohibition see Rabbi Michael Broyde and Rabbi David Herzberg, "Enabling a Jew to sin: The Parameters," Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society XIX pp. 7-34.
33. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 305:20. Halacha permits one to instruct a non-Jew to perform a biblically prohibited act on Shabbat to alleviate an animal's suffering. Accordingly, it seems to be logical that one may ask a non-Jew to remove an animal's reproductive organs in order to alleviate the creature's suffering since the prohibitions to remove reproductive organs is less severe than the prohibition to violate Shabbat (violation of Shabbat constitutes a capital crime and removal of reproductive organs does not).
34. Shoel Umeishiv 3:1:229; Chatam Sofer Choshen Mishpat 185; Haelef Lecha Shlomo Even Haezer 23; and Maharam Schick 11.
35. Avoda Zara 14a, Ramo, Even Haezer 5:14; Beit Shmuel 5:19; and Broyde and Herzberg, JHCS XIX p. 12.
36. Chavot Yair 53 and Mishnah Berurah 307:24.
37. Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 5:14.
38. Communications from Rabbi J. David Bleich, Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, Rabbi Herschel Schachter, and Rabbi Moshe Tendler.
39. Ramo, Orach Chaim 468:1, Biur Ha-gra, Orach Chaim 468:4, and Beit Ephraim, Yoreh Deah, number 62.
40. See for example, McRae, G.I., et.al. "Long-term Reversible Suppression of Estrus in Bitches with Nafarelin Acetate, a Potent LHRH agonist," Journal of Reproductive Fertility, (1985) 74 389-397; and Olson, P.N., et.al. "A Need for Sterilization, Contraception, and Obortifacients: Unwanted Pets Part IV. Potential Methods of Controlling Reproduction," Compendium of Continuing Education, Vol. 8, No. 5, May 1986, 303-307.
41. This explanation is also cited by Beit Yosef (Orach Chaim 308 s.v. kofin) and Mishnah Berurah (308:146).
42. See Tehilla Ledavid 308:42 for a distinction between Kosher and non-kosher animals regarding the category of muktza under which they should be classified.
43. However, see Respnsa halachot Ketanot (number 45) who adopts a lenient position in this matter. Rabbi Shmuel David (Sheilot Uteshuvot Meirosh Tzurim 38:6) cites Chief Sepharadic Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu who rules leniently in this matter since the issue debated by the Rishonim is a rabbinic law where one may rule leniently in case of doubt.
44. Rabbi Shmuel David (Sheilot Uteshuvot Meirosh Tzurim) cogently argues that one who is accustomed to move his pets is analogous to someone who prepares a rock prior to Shabbat for use on Shabbat. In such cases the rock is no longer muktza since he has demonstrated that the rock has utility for him on Shabbat (ordinarily, rocks are muktza since they serve no purpose on Shabbat; once one demonstrated his use for a rock then it is no longer classified as muktza). Similarly, one who ordinarily moves his pets demonstrates thereby that they have utility on Shabbat and hence are not muktza. Rabbi Auerbach (cited in Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 18, footnote 62) rules that seeing-eye dogs are not muktza. He reasons that since their essential function is such that they must necessarily be moved, then one surely intends to move them on Shabbat and hence their designation as muktza is avoided. Rabbi David points out that a rabbinic authority who rules that a seeing-eye dog is not muktza would not necessarily rule that a household pet is not muktza. One can distinguish between seeing-eye dogs whose function requires their being moved (and hence one surely intends prior to Shabbat to use them on Shabbat) and household pets which are ordinarily moved but are not necessarily moved.
45. Rabbi Y. Neuwirth rules leniently in this regard, though he expresses some hesitation in doing so; see Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 27:28 and 30 and footnote 98.
46. Rabbinical authorities disagree as to whether this prohibition applies in an area in which one is forbidden to carry only on a rabbinic level; see Mishnah Berurah 305:43.
47. Rabbi Y. Neuwirth's stringent ruling in this matter (Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 27:9) is surprising in light of the cogency of Rabbi Auerbach's reasoning.
48. It is appropriate to use a smaller shiur for a tefach in this context. Rabbi Feivel Cohen (Badei Hashulchan, Hilchot Basar Bechalav, p. 385) writes that he believes that common practice is to accept Rabbi Avraham Chaim Noeh's (smaller) measurements in a situation where adopting his approach leads to a stringent result. Eruvim 3b may serve as a source for this practice.
49. This is evident from the Talmud's discussion which is found on Beitza 24. In addition, see Aruch Hashulchan 316:36 and 37.
50. Chayei Adam Hilchot Shabbat 30:4, Mishnah Berurah 316:57, 59, and Aruch Hashulchan 316:36.
51. Beitza 24a, s.v. ha detanya.
52. Shabbat no. 235 and Hilchot Yom Tov no. 763.
53. Cited by Rosh, Beitza 3:1. Rosh Seems to accept this position as authoritative. See Biur Halacha 316:12 s.v. veyaish omrim.
54. Hilchot Shabbat 10:24 (and see Hilchot Shabbat 1:3).
55. Shabbat 106b. s.v. veain notnin, however, see the Rosh, Beitza 3:1.
56. Biur Halacha 316:12 s.v. veyaish omrim lists the many Rishonim who subscribe to this position.
57. Maharshal (responsum number 10) rules in accordance with the lenient opinion and Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 316:35) adopts the stringent opinion.
58. Rabbi Y. Neuwirth (Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 27:35) writes that one may follow the lenient position to avoid significant financial loss or an animal's suffering.
59. Even if the master is the only person the animal offers no resistance, the animal is viewed as "already caught" and anyone may return the animal to its home; see Biur Halacha 316:12 s.v. "Chaya veof birshuto" and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach's opinion cited in Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchata 27: footnote 117.
60. See Korban Haeida and Pnei Moshe ad. loc.
61. For a discussion and summary of the issue see Biur Halacha, 151:11 s.v. aval and Rabbi Joseph Stern, "The Contemporary Synagogue," Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society X, pp. 49-52.
62. According to this approach one would be permitted to bring a guide dog even into synagogues in Israel (which are not built with a stipulation to permit mundane activities to take place within them). However, Rabbi Feinstein expresses reservations regarding this line of reasoning and stops short of asserting that his lenient ruling also applies to Israeli synagogues. However, according to Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's approach to this issue (which will be discussed subsequently) a blind person may bring a guide dog into a synagogue even in Israel.
63. Rabbi Lichtenstein stated this in a lecture at Yeshivat Har Etzion. However, other leading students of Rabbi Soloveitchik recall that he believed it to be forbidden to bring a guide dog into a synagogue. Apparently, Rabbi Soloveitchik maintained conflicting views regarding this matter at various times.
64. Similarly, rabbi Herschel Schachter cites ("Beinyanei Beit Haknesset Ukedushato" Ohr Hamizrach Tishrei 5746 pp. 54-55) Rabbi Soloveitchik's opinion that one is forbidden to wear galoshes or winter boots into the sanctuary of the synagogue since one removes these articles before entering a home.
65. Despite the fact that the sanctity of the synagogue is similar to that of the Temple, the intensity of their respective levels of sanctity differs. Rambam expresses this distinction by stating (Hilchot Tefilla 11:5) that a synagogue must be treated with respect (kavod) as opposed to the Temple (Hilchot Beit Habechira 7:1) towards which we must maintain an attitude of awe (yirah). Rabbi Soloveitchik explains that the distinction derives from the fact that the Temple is God's home in which we are visitors, in contradistinction to the synagogue which is our home in which God (so to speak) is a visitor (see Shiurim Lezecher Aba Mori Zal, pp. 63-65). Halachic authorities differ to what extent various laws regarding the synagogue should be extrapolated from the laws of the Temple. See Haelef Lecha Shlomo Orach Chaim 76, Binyan Tzion 9, Meishiv Davar II, 14 and Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Ohr Hamizrach, Tishrei 5746, pp. 54-61.
66. Rabbi Breisch criticizes Rabbi Feinstein in a similar manner regarding the latter's ruling permitting artificial insemination (Chelkat Yaakov 3:45). Rabbi Feinstein responds to this criticism (Chelkat Yaakov 3:48 and also published in the addendum to Rabbi Feinstein's commentary to tractate Ketubot) by limiting the principle viewed by Rabbi Breisch. For a summary of this debate see Rabbi Alfred S. Cohen, "Artificial Insemination," Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society XIII pp. 51-54.
67. Communications from the National Council of Churches, The Chancery of the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York, and the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.