Are there any g'dolim (or rabbis of major influence) - past or present - who are known to have owned pets/kept animals for non-agricultural purposes?


Reb Avrohom Gurwitz had a cat when I was in Gateshead

  • Did he have it as a classical pet or as a mouse removal device? – mroll Aug 12 '16 at 2:29

There is always this picture of Rav Lopian

ר' אל'ע איז מיט ג-ט

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    And the famous comment, "how do we know he was putting the saucer out for the cat, maybe the photo caught him as he was taking it away ..." – Shalom Sep 27 '10 at 18:35
  • I'm guessing if that were really his cat it would be documented somewhere. – WAF Sep 27 '10 at 20:21

There is a Tshuva of the Ya'avetz 17 (1) where he says it is forbidden for a woman to have a dog as a pet, 2 dogs for a man, and to play with a dog is "Moshav Letsim" for everybody. One can use a dog as a guard dog if he keeps it on a leash. and keeps them to a minimum.

(1) ואפילו מאן דפליג בכופרים לא שרי טפי מחד לנטורי ביתא לנטורי ביתא בלחוד דהכי מוכח מהא דגר שנפלו לו בירושה שאין מחייבין אותו למכור כי אם על יד ועל כרחך בכופרים איירי דלא מזקי דאי לאו הכי ודאי שאסור לקיימן בביתו אפילו זמן מועט ואפילו אחד לא אם אינו קשור ואפילו הכי לא שרי אלא במי שנפלו לו בירושה להשהותן רק כדי למוכרן מעט מעט שלא יפסיד הרבה. מיהא לגדלן אצלו מכל מקום אסור...דסלקא דעתך אמינא לארמלתא שרי טפי דלא בעיא ליה לטיול אלא לשמור הבית מאריא וגנבי אורחא בהכי לריבויי משום נטירוטא דביתא קמ"ל דאפילו הכי אסור משום חשדא ואין צריך לומר שאסור לנשים בעלמא שאין מגדלות אותו אלא לשעשוע בלבד...וגם משום מושב ליצים אסור לשחור עמהם... ‏

  • Interesting. Do we know of g'dolim who have had chained guard dogs? Was Rav Ya'akov Emden dealing with dogs that were more dangerous than the ones commonly kept as pets? He seems to be speaking about much more serious danger than most pet owners ever experience, doesn't he? – WAF Jul 7 '11 at 2:12
  • Regarding 1), he refers to the well-known sakana involved in owning dogs, which leads to the condition that they be chained up under all circumstances. This sakana is not well-known to me with regard to the dogs that are currently usually maintained as pets. – WAF Jul 7 '11 at 3:03
  • I'm pretty sure the gemoroh in baba kamma says yours allowed to have a dog a cat and a porcupine as a pet(maybe missing one more) because they keep the house clean by eating all the bones and stuff left over. This is regarding small dogs, big dogs are meant to be outside of the main city for protection. – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Mar 15 '13 at 5:35
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    @shmuel brin that doesn't matter, gemoroh says your allowed to, therefore your allowed to keep them. – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Mar 15 '13 at 17:01
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    This seems like a comment. – Double AA Aug 11 '16 at 5:10

There's a story here about the Zhviller Rebbe keeping pet cats: The Rebbe's Cats.

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    Shivaram, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for this very on-point reference! I hope you'll look around and find other material here that animates you, perhaps including our 76 other animals questions. – Isaac Moses Mar 14 '13 at 19:40

I know of a Rosh Yeshiva in South Africa that kept dogs for protection.

  • Did he personally ever deal with the dogs or did his 'help' handle that? – Tzvi Sep 27 '10 at 2:00
  • He personally fed them at times, and often petted them. – Gershon Gold Sep 27 '10 at 3:16

My Chabad Rabbi told me that the Lubavitcher Rebbe bought his wife a dog to cheer her up because she was sad that she couldn't have a baby.

  • See Joseph Telushkin's Rebbe book, page 366 for an interesting story between Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka and a dog. – ezra Jan 10 '17 at 22:21

The Avos had sheep, camels, oxen and not all of it was for agricultural purposes.

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    How do you know this? – Isaac Moses Sep 27 '10 at 19:37
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    Can you cite one or two? – WAF Sep 27 '10 at 20:21
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    How do we know that the non-kosher animals were not for agricultural purposes? – WAF Jul 7 '11 at 2:10
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    How do you know he kept Kosher? ;-P – Seth J Jul 7 '11 at 4:27
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    "not agricultural" does not equal "pets". – Menachem Jul 19 '12 at 20:25

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