In the latest reminder that man’s best friends are not Orthodox rabbis, more than a dozen rabbis from the city of Elad near Tel Aviv issued an edict declaring that a dog’s bark is as bad as its bite and that the answer to the eternal question “Who is a good doggie?” is “No one.”
The edict contains the signatures of all the Sephardic rabbis in Elad, a city of about 46,000 residents where most of the population is charedi Orthodox.
“We have heard and have seen that lately, a serious phenomenon has spread in our city Elad, in which young boys and children walk around publicly with dogs. This is strictly forbidden, as explained in the Talmud and by the Rambam, anyone raising a dog is accursed and especially in our city where many women and children are afraid of dogs,” the anti-canine edict states.
The rabbi of neighboring Holon, Avraham Yosef, is quoted as writing: “I do not find any grounds for permitting any dog whatsoever in any manner.”
The term “bad dog” means “any dog, for it barks on whomever it does not know and because of its bark it is a bad dog even if it does not bite,” the edit adds. People who keep dogs for medical needs should appear before the local rabbinical court so it may rule on their matter, the edict says.
The authors’ interpretation of references to dogs in Judaism is stricter than those made by other Israeli Orthodox chief rabbis.
Uziel Elyahu, the chief Orthodox rabbi of the northern municipality of Misgav, ruled in 2002 that it is permissible to keep guard dogs, guide dogs, and dogs that help “to develop a person’s emotions.”