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Beit Midrash Series Ein Ayah

Dogs – Man’s Greatest Non-Human Influencer

Whoever raises a vicious dog in his house withholds kindness from his house, as the pasuk says, "Lamas from his friend kindness" (Iyov 6:14). This is because a dog is called lamas in Greek.
Various RabbisTamuz 15 5778
40
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Gemara: Whoever raises a vicious dog in his house withholds kindness from his house, as the pasuk says, "Lamas from his friend kindness" (Iyov 6:14). This is because a dog is called lamas in Greek.


Ein Ayah: Concealed ideals are apt to come through hidden causes. It is well-known that social interactions impact on a person’s spirit both for good and for bad. It is a new idea that other living things also impact a human’s behavior when they are in his proximity.

To understand this, we must realize that even when man influences man, it is not just by means of the visible actions and words they interchange, but by a spiritual process through which someone good improves the spiritual environment around him. Likewise someone evil casts shadows of evil on those around him. This type of spiritual impact can be accomplished even by an animal, especially those with an inclination toward a relationship with mankind; the dog is unique in this regard. A dog has a lowly spirit, and a vicious dog is antithetical to kindness. Therefore, a vicious dog impacts a house spiritually, holding back the light of kindness.

This type of relationship with a dog, with its unseen impact, is unnatural to Jews. Our nation has always been hesitant to raise dogs and even put restrictions on it (see Bava Kama 79b). However, due to the level of connection between humans and dogs, which finds expression in a Jewish home as well, they can impact on a Jewish home. We should be careful about this impact, as is hinted by the fact that a foreign (Greek) name of a dog is found in the pasuk.
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