If animals don't have freewill, why are dogs rewarded for not having barked at Jewish people during the Exodus from Egypt? (Exodus 11 and Exodus 22)

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    Why do you think animals don't have free will?
    – Double AA
    Jun 16, 2019 at 16:27
  • @RubinhoBrasil Positive reinforcement is a training technique to encourage particular behavior. It works with most creatures, even insects, reptiles & amphibians. It doesn’t involve free choice. That remains solely in the domain of human beings according to the Torah. Jun 16, 2019 at 16:33
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    – LN6595
    Jun 16, 2019 at 16:34
  • @Yaacov Deane, what do you mean with positive reinforcement? Dogs didn't bakr at the Jews in Egypt and nowadyas in America we give them non-kosher meat. How is this positive reinforcement?
    – user5202
    Jun 16, 2019 at 16:39
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    It is crucial to understand the nature of educational statements of our Sages. They don't reflect the absolute truth as you expect, instead, they educate us to see G-d's good attributes in many different situations.
    – Al Berko
    Jun 16, 2019 at 21:38

2 Answers 2


Rabbi Shafier of The Shmuz asks this question in one of the pieces from Parshas Mishpatim.

The gist of his answer (although I'd recommend reading it directly, it's not too long of an article) is a two step answer: 1) all results come about from Hashem, even though a person puts intent into their actions, ultimately no results would come about from the actions if Hashem didn't will for the results to come about. 2) Nevertheless, Hashem set up the reward system to work in a way where a person gets rewarded for the good that comes about for their actions, even though the results were all from Hashem.

Tying that idea back to your question:

Through the animals a greater good was brought, and for that they deserve reward. Granted they didn’t intend it — they are animals — but through them came a good, and that is attributed to them. For that, they deserve reward.

  • Very good answer from Rabbi Shafier, thanks for pointing out ! But if his statement is true, why didn't the wild animals that brought the 4th plague to Egypt - bringing a massive kidush Hashem - were not rewarded ?! Why only the dogs ???
    – user5202
    Jun 17, 2019 at 13:46
  • @user5202 probobly they were rewadered (how do you know that only dogs?)
    – hazoriz
    Jun 17, 2019 at 14:23
  • Rabbi Shafier often quotes from Rabbi Avigdor Miller, so probably this idea comes from him. Somewhat similar is brought down in a Toras Avigdor Junior, which also uses his ideas: torasavigdor.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/…
    – Binyomin
    Feb 9 at 10:03

Free will and reward are not related,
for example, The Moon was punished for complaining.

It is just that G-d Almighty is just.
Is someone deserves good he should get it.
For example parents (even those that exploit their children) deserve respect.
Fruit Trees deserve respect (they should not be destroyed)
Animals deserve respect (even from non-jews) and meat separated from them while they were alive should not be eaten

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