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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

On Bava Kamma and a Dog

לֹא יְגַדֵּל אָדָם אֶת הַכֶּלֶב אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן קָשׁוּר בְּשַׁלְשְׁלָאוֹת כּוּ׳. תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: לֹא יְגַדֵּל אָדָם אֶת הַכֶּלֶב – אֶלָּא

אִם כֵּן קָשׁוּר בְּשַׁלְשֶׁלֶת. אֲבָל מְגַדֵּל הוּא בָּעִיר הַסְּמוּכָה לַסְּפָר, וְקוֹשְׁרוֹ בַּיּוֹם וּמַתִּירוֹ בַּלַּיְלָה.

§ The mishna teaches: A person may not raise a dog unless it is tied with chains. The Sages taught in a baraita: A person may not raise a dog unless it is tied with a chain. But he may raise a dog in a city that is close to the border of the country, and in that case he should tie it during the day but may release it at night.

Bava Kamma 83a


It seems odd to write a post about a dog when it relates to Daf Yomi, but tucked within the many cases of theft, damages and responsibility in this first Masechet of Seder Nezikim, are commentary on everything, whatever everything might have meant as the rabbis had their discussions. Included in Bava Kamma is an exhortation not to own a dog, but if one must it must be chained and under certain circumstances. This is not the only time that people are warned not to have dogs and whether people can keep dogs has been debated over the centuries until the present day.

There isn’t much said about dogs that is positive, however as a person who does own a dog, perhaps here I can glean some of the important lessons that Baba Kamma tries to teach us through its many cases, including lessons of fairness and living and working as part of the larger community. Lessons in the responsibility of being the owner of a living creature.

And so, despite the negativity shown toward canines, I write about them here.

This is not poetry, but is simply an ode to the canines we raise in our homes.


There are laws that govern dog ownership, but then there are those behaviors that go beyond laws.

To be a dog owner is to increase the potential of kindness in one’s life.

To be a dog owner is to learn the art of optimism because dogs are nothing, if not hopeful.

Dogs give even the unkind, even the thief, the servant, the benefit of the doubt.

One learns that in the world of canines, whether a dog is large or small, belongs to one who is rich or poor, dogs all share the same characteristics.

Dogs are a mirror of the people who handle them. With some exceptions, cruelty yields cruelty, abuse yields abuse and poor behavior is a result of poor training.

To own a dog forces one to think beyond oneself and one’s own immediate needs.

To own a dog helps one to become a responsible member of the community, encouraging a person rise to higher community standards.

Owning a dog brings about conversation, negotiation and compromise with others

and, yes, they bring smiles, so many smiles and tears when they leave us.

A dog cannot do teshuva, making amends for their bad behavior, but their owners can and through the changes their owners make, the dog can do better, too.

To be a dog owner gives an individual, in some strange way, the ability to see the world through a dog's eyes, where everything and everyone has potential.


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3 comentários

04 de mar.

I love seeing Luigi z"l and Trixie as part of your ode to canines!


Judith Loischild
Judith Loischild
03 de mar.

My dog is a lifeline to loving kindness, and joy.

04 de mar.
Respondendo a

Yea, I understood!

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