First posted on The Times of Israel at: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/bo-holy-uruguayan-dogs/
Netziv Exodus: Bo
Holy Uruguayan Dogs
“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” -John Calvin
There are a lot of dogs in Uruguay. I don’t know how one would determine the statistics, but I would venture to guess that Uruguay has one of the highest number of dogs per capita in the world. The high rate of dog ownership may also contribute to the general easygoing nature of Uruguayans.
The Talmud has a variety of things to say about dogs, but one that the Netziv on Exodus 11:7 highlights are that dogs are spiritually sensitive. In the warning of the upcoming Plague of the Firstborns, Moses states quizzically:
“And for all the Children of Israel, no dog shall whet its tongue, from man to beast, in order that you should know that God differentiates between Egypt and Israel.”
The Netziv explains that dogs have the natural ability to differentiate between good people and wicked people. They will bark when confronted with evil. There were immoral people from Israel that God spared during the plagues whom the dogs should have barked at. However, out of respect for God’s desire for the national differentiation between Jews and Egyptians, the dogs remained quiet during the historic event of the Exodus and didn’t point out the wayward Jews.
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they have also proven to be respectful servants of God. There’s a thing or two that we can learn from them.
To Uruguayan dogs and your humans. Please remind your caretakers to clean up your messes.