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Bringing in 2016 with Little Louie

12/29/2015 09:09:52 PM


Tuesday, December 29 th, 2015

I never imagined I would ever consent to adopting a pet. As a child, I, like so many others won a goldfish at a Purim carnival (and that survived a full month in that little bowl); certainly no cats or dogs. I appreciated animals at a distance. I enjoyed going to the zoo, watching various species interact in their environment. I surprisingly never had a desire to bring a pet into my home.
Recently I began to notice that many families I visit have a family pet. The family pet is a true member of the family. As a matter of fact, according to recent surveys, twenty seven percent of Americans have at least one pet.
As a Rabbi, I have officiated at the funerals of hundreds of people who had embraced pets in their lifetimes. Generally speaking, those people were remembered by their friends and family as kind, compassionate, caring and generous. Over the years I have come to appreciate the special role animals can play in the shaping of the human soul.
So what does this have to do with Judaism? Judaism has always recognized the link between the way a person treats animals and the way a person treats human beings. It is stated in the Hebrew Bible that, a person who is cruel to defenseless animals will undoubtedly be cruel to defenseless people. A person who cares for the lowest of creatures will more often than not care for his fellow human being. From the Bible we also learn that Jacob, Moses and King David were all shepherds, people who undoubtedly cared for animals. The Talmud specifically states that Moses was chosen to lead the Jewish people in part due to his skill in caring for animals. It states, “The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said, since you are merciful to your flock, you shall be the shepherd of my flock, Israel.”
Additionally, the Book of Job says: “ask the beasts, and they will teach you.”
According to the text, animals can teach us valuable lessons conducive to a life well lived.
In the two short weeks Louie Levick Cove has been with us, he has indeed taught us about unconditional love, youthful enthusiasm and the importance of play. Adopting Louie may have begun with the desire to please my wife however, in the short period of time that Louie has been in our lives, he has licked, wiggled, and played his way into my heart. As I now officially join the blessed ranks of pet owners, I would like to share this blessing for all of our pets.
“We give thanks for the creatures who live along side us as companions and friends, for their loyalty, love and trust which enrich our lives and give us joy. May we learn from our pets the value of kindness, the power of mercy, the strength of gentleness and a new spirit of humility.”
Have a healthy, satisfying new year and enjoy the ones you love (including your pets).
Rabbi Cove, and little Louie
Fri, 1 March 2024