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February 28, 2013 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-02-28

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Ike/piny Ake

Ziegler lives with his wife, two
children and Tanker in Southgate.
Tanker is Ziegler's fifth puppy in
training to become a leader dog.
Like Ziegler, Platt, a medical
technician, raises future leader
dogs. When she has a puppy to
raise, she takes it everywhere, even
to her synagogue. A member of
the Young Israel movement since
Young Israel met in Northwest
Detroit, Platt takes puppies to
programs at the Young Israel of
Oak Park, though not to religious
services.
At synagogue and other events,
the puppy learns to behave politely
when attending a buffet dinner or
a movie. Last year, one of her dogs
attended a Purim feast at the syna-
gogue in a hot dog costume.

Ziegler and Platt do their work
for Leader Dogs for the Blind
without pay; the organization does
cover some expenses.
"Puppy raising is a matter of
chesed,"Platt says, using the He-
brew word for kindness. "This dog
will be someone's independence,
mobility and safety."
Another puppy raiser summa-
rizes the deciding factor: "This is a
mitzvah."
The backlog of work in animal
welfare keeps getting longer and
opportunities remain for those
who might volunteer at rescu-
ing abandoned animals, fostering
therapy dogs or raising future
leader dogs. It seems that the
ancient rabbis would approve
(see story below). RT

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What Judaism Teaches

A

ncient Jewish sources speculate about why abusing animals
is evil. Maimonides, in discussing commandments that seem
to limit how we treat animals in the presence of their mothers,
writes: "There is no difference in this case between the pain of people
and the pain of other living beings, since the love and the tenderness
of the mother for her young ones is not produced by reasoning but
by feeling, and this faculty exists not only in people but in most living
things ... if the Law provides that such grief should not be caused to
cattle and birds, how much more careful should we be that we should
not cause grief to our fellow man" (The Guide of the Perplexed, 3:48).
Ramban (Nachmanides) rejects this interpretation and insists that
the commandment is aimed not at protecting animals but at"protect-
ing us from acting cruelly" (Commentary on Deuteronomy 22:6).
A more radical concern for protecting animals appears in the works
of Rabbi Joseph Ibn Caspi (1279-1340, in his Mishneh Kesef, Vol. 1,
page 36):"The reason the Torah forbids inflicting pain on animals is
because we humans are very close to them and we both have one
father!"
Even when an animal must suffer pain because of some legitimate
human need, we should make every effort to limit the pain. Mai-
monides understands the rules of ritual slaughter that way (Guide,
3:48). If Jews must eat meat, we must at least insist that the slaugh-
terer inflict as little pain as possible.
Ideally, other rabbinic thinkers suggest that we should eat only
plants, as in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:29 as interpreted by the
Talmud Sanhedrin 59b) and in the blissful future paradise (Isaiah 11:7).
One such vegetarian was Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief rabbi of Israel
from 1973-83.

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