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Licked by a dog during davening


Rabbi David Sperling

Elul 3, 5780
Hi there, A rabbi in my area told me it’s ok to pray with my dog on my lap or on me if I need to hold her while I pray (she gets anxiety and sometimes if I pray while everyone leaves home, she needs me to hug her) I’m curious what about if she happened to lick me? Does that require stopping everything, put her down, washing hands, and then continue to daven? And does it also differ between certain prayers or blessings? For example, I’m a lady and don’t say all the prayers, does it make a difference between certain prayers or between prayers and blessings for example? And if the situation is washing, what about if she licked me hours ago, and now I need to daven or say a bracha, is it, by now, tafel, or does one need to go to certain lengths for washing? Thank you so much,
Shalom, Thank you for your question. First let me quote a previous answer I wrote about praying in the presence of animals - “Shalom, Thank you for your question. One is allowed to pray in the presence of animals, as long as they are clean from excrement and bad smells. This being so, one can pray in a room where a house pet, such as a dog or cat are. (In fact, although there are obvious differences, prayers were said in the holy Temple over the animals before they were slaughtered and offered up on the alter). As to holding the pet during prayers, this is slightly more problematic. There is a minority opinion that one needs to wash their hands after touching an animal – especially an unkosher animal – before praying. Based on this it would be forbidden to hold the animal during a blessing or prayer. However, the majority view is that one is not obligated to wash their hands after touching even unkosher animals, as long as their hands did not get dirty. This being so, holding a pet dog would not require hand washing, and would be allowed whilst saying holy words. There is another issue which is whether holding the animal could be a distraction while saying prayers. Certainly it is forbidden to hold a pet during the Amidah. …” - Now, let us turn to your question. Being licked by a dog, if being licked makes you dirty in the sense that you would wash yourself because of it (not for religious reasons), then one should not pray before washing. However, if being licked does not make one physically dirty, then it is no different than touching the dog (see above). There is no difference between men and women in this issue. When one is obligated to wash and it is difficult to do so one may generally rely on wiping their hands clean on a cloth or any other surface. Blessings.
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