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Deuteronomy 23:19:

לֹא תָבִיא אֶתְנַן זוֹנָה וּמְחִיר כֶּלֶב בֵּית יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְכָל נֶדֶר כִּי תוֹעֲבַת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ גַּם שְׁנֵיהֶם

Why does the Torah have a problem with using the money from the sale of a dog, while apparently not any other non Kosher animals? What is it about dogs that the Torah has an issue with?

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Rav Mizrahi says that dogs are the most Tameh animal. –  Hacham Gabriel Aug 18 '13 at 16:22
What does that mean and I would think it is a PIG not dog!! –  YUASK Aug 18 '13 at 16:28
@Hacham Gabriel No a pig has some kosher attributes. I dont know who rav mizrachi and I doubt its the mizrachi on rashi. You cant just make statements like that without proof. –  user2800 Aug 18 '13 at 17:03
@annex I believe it's al Pi Kabala. –  Hacham Gabriel Aug 18 '13 at 19:58
ok so WHY according o Kabbalah is the Dog the Most Tumah animal if I recall correctly the Zohar says the Dog is called a Kelev because it is Kol Lev (all its Heart) is giving over to its owner –  YUASK Aug 18 '13 at 20:12

5 Answers 5

Biblical scholarship usually identifies the word kelev here as a colloquial term for a male prostitute — this seems clear from the parallelism within the verse (zonah [f.] = kelev [m.]) as well as with the previous verse (qedesha [f.] = qadesh [m.]). The terms qadesh/*qedesha* may refer to 'sacred' cultic or temple prostitution, while zonah and kelev would refer to 'secular' or everyday sex work. See, for example, Greenberg's discussion here. The note in the JPS Jewish Study Bible (edited by Adele Berlin, Marc Brettler, and Michael Fishbane) reads as follows:

These verses presuppose the inevitability of prostitution, while regulating it in such a way as to preserve the Temple's sanctity... Dog, in context, the male counterpart to a common female prostitute. To maintain holiness, the law proscribes the donation income gained from prostitution to the Temple (cf. Hos. 4:14; Mic. 1:7).

Please keep in mind that sexuality studies, especially of the ancient world, are highly controversial and scholars have been arguing about how to interpret the various sources for literally decades if not centuries.

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and your page leads to a Blank page in the book even though rashi disagrees sounds interesting –  YUASK Aug 18 '13 at 20:51
please add a (real) source, and almost everyone i saw in Judaism disagrees. –  tryingToGetProgrammingStraight Aug 19 '13 at 3:54
If by a "real" source you mean "one that you agree with" I'm afraid I can't do that. I acknowledge that the rabbis of the Talmud, and hence Rashi etc., understand this verse as literally referring to a dog. I therefore began my statement by saying "Biblical scholarship"... You can take that or leave it as you will. –  Noam Sienna Aug 19 '13 at 3:58
@tryingToGetProgrammingStraight I added the note from the JPS TaNaKh, which hopefully is "real" enough for you. YUASK, I'm sorry you can't seem to see the page! It's in his book "The Construction of Homosexuality", pp. 94-97. –  Noam Sienna Aug 19 '13 at 4:12
It would seem the stronger question is why Chazal chose to take the phrase extremely literally? –  Double AA Aug 19 '13 at 7:55

The Ramban addresses this issue. He says that the problem is people committing sins and thinking that they can bribe God by bringing korbanot with their profits. Thus a prostitute would use her earnings to pay off God, and people who hunted with dangerous dogs which killed people would use their profits as an "atonement." According to the Ramban, even hunters in his day would place an image of a dog befor their avodah zarah to ensure their success. The Torah prohibits this because one cannot do something wrong and then bribe God.

רמב"ן דברים כג:יט: הזונות יעשו באתנן שלהם מצוות, חושבות לכפר על חטאתן… ולכך אסרה תורה אתנן לכל נדר כי עתה יוסיפו לחטוא בהן. וכן עניין מחיר כלב, בעבור כי הצדים בכלבים ושומרי החומות יגדלו כלבים עזי נפש מזיקים את הרבים, וידירו [=ינדרו] במחיריהם להיות כופר לנפשם וכן המנהג עד היום בפרשים אנשי הציד, שיעמידו צורת כלביהם בשעווה לפני עבודה זרה שיצליחו בהם

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Ibn Ezra writes:

כי הוא דרך בזיון על כן אמר כי תועבת ה

For it is an embarrassment, therefore it is written "for it is an abomination of God."

Kli Yakar writes:

לפי שגם הכלבים עזי נפש מזנים בפרהסיא...והרי שניהם שוים בזנות ובעזות

Because dogs also are brazen, in that they are promiscuous in public...therefore, the two of them (the prostitute and the dog) are equal in promiscuity and brazenness.

(translations mine)

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here are something i found online that may be helpful

In ancient Israel the dog was considered an unclean animal. Several verses in the Bible know the usefulness of watchdogs and sheep dogs, but for the most part we only read of half-wild, half-starving scavengers that prowl the city by night. The dog lived on the refuse of the streets or on the terephah(treifah)—one of the flock which has been torn by a wild animal and therefore unfit for human food. click here for source.

i found also found this. heres the source.

Dogs were highly valued in Egypt as part of the family and, when a dog would die, the family, if they could afford to, would have the dog mummified with as much care as they would pay for a human member of the family. Great grief was displayed over the death of a family dog and the family would shave their eyebrows as a sign of this grief (as they also did with their cats). Tomb paintings of the pharaoh Rameses the Great depict him with his hunting dogs (presumably in the Field of Reeds) and dogs were often buried with their masters to provide this kind of companionship in the afterlife.


it may be that because the Egyptians valued dogs so much, that itself is the reason that torah looks down on dogs, similar to taking a lamb for korban pesach.

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This is an interesting hypothesis about the significance of dogs in the TaNaKh and the world of the ancient Near East... But to me it doesn't explain what any of that has to do with prostitution, which from context is clearly the topic of this passage. –  Noam Sienna Aug 19 '13 at 4:29
@tryingToGetProgrammingStraight How do you know who downvoted you? It would be wise to avoid making such assumptions. –  Double AA Aug 19 '13 at 18:24

I believe there is a passage in scripture or the Mishna that said in effect that even the dogs did not interrupt Israel's exodus from Egypt implying that the Egyptians used dogs to control Israelite slaves. Some people say that a Jew's home is akin to the temple and must be holy. Since dogs are not a kosher animal and could not be brought to the Holy Temple, it is not appropriate to allow a dog to enter one's own personal and holy temple, namely,mtheir home.

There are also practical difficulties concerning dogs. For one, the problem of finding "kosher dog food" especially for Pesach as, apparently almost all dog foods are chometz. Walking the dog on Shabbat and Yom Tov would also pose a problem especially for apartment dwellers (using a leash, picking up and disposing the waste, etc.)

Last but not least, many Jews who have adverse feelings towards dogs tend to be Hasidim who are often entrenched in the past. Dogs were often used by enemies of the Jews to attack them such as during the pograms and in concentration camps to name just two examples.

There is evidenced that frum Jews have indeed owned and kept dogs as pets. I seriously doubt that there is a true Halacha against it. The reason for the adversion towards dogs is likely more historical and tradition than anything else.

(Correction. There apparently IS a kosher brand of dod food (Evangers) that is certified chometz free by the CRC. I reasonably certain that CRC would not certify dog food kosher if having a dog was not allowed.)

As far as selling or breeding dogs dogs, I don't believe there is any evidence one may not do so. The Star K website has information concerning pets from the perspective of kashrut and laws concerning avoiding cruelty to animals. Like the CRC certification discussed earlier in my prior post, neither site mentions sale of a dog and what can be done with the proceeds. What if the original poster asked their rabbi if he would decline a donation from the proceeds of a sale of a dog?

Lastly, one must own a dog before they can sell it. Although it is feasible that a person can adopt or be given a dog as a gift, it is highly likely that they purchased the dog themselves. The only prohibition to selling a dog based on a brief Internet search is that a Jew can not own a dog if it would cause unnecessary fear in his family or community. I would the same would extend to his immediate community. As stated above, given the history of dogs and Jews, such uneasiness would exist in many Hasidic communities so the likely answer would be that one could not sell the dog to someone in such neighborhood. (Until recently I lived in a large coop housing complex whose security force many, many years ago use to patrol the grounds with German Shepard's to the fear of the many Holocaust survivors who lived in the complex. Unfortunately they didn't deter the criminal element from the nearby projects who'd still rob and mug residents.) Would it make a difference if the buyer were a non-Jew?

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How does this answer the question? –  Double AA Aug 18 '13 at 23:42
Double A A. Good question! You need to own the dog before you can sell it. An exploration as to why many Jews appear to have an adverse view of dogs is essential. The question is moot if you cannot own the dog in the first place. The original poster may also want to clarify where the seller intended the proceeds to go. Would it make a difference if the sale of the dog helped pay bills or if it went to tzadakah? –  JJLL Aug 19 '13 at 2:10
This might make for a good answer for a very different question: not “What’s the problem with dogs?” in the specific sense that the OP asked, but “What’s the problem with dogs?” in the sense of why many Jews seem to be skittish of dogs. But that wasn’t the question being asked and so this response is not a good answer. –  J. C. Salomon Aug 19 '13 at 3:45
please answer the question, and not go on a tangent about dogs. –  tryingToGetProgrammingStraight Aug 19 '13 at 3:55
Hey dudes. I agree that I may have drifted a bit but as stated it was to put things in perspective. I suggest that some of YOU reread the question. The poster asked why the Torah has "a problem" using the money from the sale of a dog. Everyone seems to be ignoring the first part of the question concerning selling dogs. –  JJLL Aug 19 '13 at 12:33

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