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The Shulchan Aruch mentions that one should not daven in the presence of a dog. Is there an exception or leniency made if a blind person accompanied by his dog walks into the shul minyan to daven? (the blind person, that is. Although, perhaps, the dog may be davening, as well.)

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Igros Moshe 1:45 says it is permitted, as if not the fellow will be unable to ever come to Shul. However it is preferable to leave the dog at the door in order not to scare the congregants.

I have personally seen a seeing eye dog in a Shul on more than one occasion.

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    I have once seen a tshuva by the lubavich rebbe who brings a proof that the mizbeach also looked like a dog. – preferred May 20 '14 at 20:30
  • @Preferred: I am not sure what your comment has to do with my answer? – Gershon Gold May 20 '14 at 21:06
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    It shows that a dog can be in shul. This is not my answer but the lubavich rebbe. Will have to look for it. – preferred May 20 '14 at 22:57
  • @preferred are you referring to Yoma 21 "דתניא ונתנו בני אהרן הכהן אש על המזבח אע"פ שאש יורדת מן השמים מצוה להביא מן ההדיוט רבוצה כארי והתניא א"ר חנינא סגן הכהנים אני ראיתיה ורבוצה ככלב לא קשיא כאן במקדש ראשון כאן במקדש שני" – sam May 20 '14 at 23:52
  • @sam Yes. As I wrote I am sure I have seen it in a sefer of the Lubavich rebbe. Are there no chabad chasidim on here to confirm this. – preferred May 21 '14 at 8:18
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R. Yitzchak Abadi has a responsum (Ohr Yitzchak 2:51) about allowing seeing-eye dogs inside the synagogue. He cites R. Moshe Feinstein's responsum on the matter (mentioned in Gershon Gold's answer) and rejects R. Feinstein's Talmudic interpretations that justified his permissive ruling. As for the issue that a blind person will never be able to attend the synagogue services if we don't permit this, R. Abadi writes:

ומה שצירף מרן באגרות משה שם כל מיני צירופים להתיר כל זה לסומא וכתב ואין לנו שעת הדחק גדול מזה שאם לא נתירנו יתבטל כל ימיו מתפילה בציבור וקריאת התורה וכו' וכו' ע"כ אני איני רואה בזה שעת הדחק גדול דהא אפשר למנות אדם או לשוכרו שיעזור לסומא לבוא לבית הכנסת ואפי' אם יבוא עם הכלב עד בית הכנסת אפשר להשאיר הכלב בחוץ ובפנים אפשר בקל שאנשים יעזרו לו ולכך איני רואה שום היתר להכניס הכלב לבית הכנסת

And that which our master in Igrot Moshe combined all types of combinations in order to permit all this for a blind person, and he wrote "there is no pressing situation greater than this, for if we don't allow it he will miss out all his life on praying with the congregation and the reading of the Torah etc. etc." end quote, I don't see such a great pressing situation. For it is possible to appoint or hire a person to assist the blind person to come to the synagogue, and even if he comes with the dog up until the synagogue, it is possible to leave the dog outside and it will be easily possible for people to help him inside. And therefore I do not see any allowance to bring the dog into the synagogue.

  • There are numerous halachic sides to the issue. As I have a handicapped son, and my parents were also handicapped, I am, perhaps, more sensitive to the overall concept of being makil as much as possible regarding dealing with any halacha that may be able to accommodate them. Hence, I would prefer R. Feinstein's rule. I'm not stating that the citing above is invalid. I'm suggesting that it seems restrictive in a situation where it need not be. It doesn't seem to allow an alternative where others may not be available to assist. The dog, BTW, does more than just "assist" navigation. – DanF Apr 3 at 15:08

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