For the week ending 30 September 2023 / 15 Tishrei 5784

Perek Shira: The Song of the Dogs

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The Dogs say: “Come, let us prostrate ourselves and kneel, let us bow before Hashem our Maker!”(Tehillim 95:6).

The dog is a dedicated and cherished pet that recognizes its master and subjugates itself entirely to his will. Dog in Hebrew is kelev, which is a contraction of the words kulo lev (lit., “entirely heart”). This refers to the dog’s wholehearted devotion to the master who feeds it, whom it will protect even at the risk of its own life. This is borne out in a saying cited by the Zohar: “Throw a dog a bone and it will lick the dust of your feet.” Kulo lev might also be understood as an allusion to the dog’s unashamed expression of its heart's desire; even small dogs can be seen barking at creatures many times its size. The dog sings that mankind, too, should serve the ultimate Master, Hashem, with comparative allegiance.

Hashem has done more for us than any master has done for his servant and more than any king has done for his nation. He created us, removed us from the shackles of Egyptian slavery and granted us the bounty of the world in His chosen land. Day by day, He provides us with our needs of food and shelter, and a life far more blessed than that of a dog. And this is all nothing compared to what He has promised for us in the future. If a dog can be loyal to its master for the sake of a dry bone, all the more so we, who are capable of intelligent appreciation, should prostrate ourselves before Hashem, and serve with unbounded love, with all of our hearts and souls.

  • Sources: Maharal (Chiddushei Aggados, Horayos 13a); Maharsha (Sanhedrin 97a); Zohar (Vayikra 63a); Sefer HaIkarim; Perek B’shir


This brings the series “Perek Shira: Song of Existence” to its conclusion. For more information on this topic, contact ShmuelKraines@gmail.com.

In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib

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