At Rosh Hashanah service today, a congregant brought his service dog with him. He's not blind, the service dog vest said it was for hearing.

Is the temple being kind, or are they required to permit a service dog?

2 Answers 2



The Jerusalem Talmud (Tractate Megillah) quotes Rav Imi telling his assistant that if a scholar should visit and need to sleep in the Synagogue, he should let him, and allow him to bring his donkey and other objects in as well.

This opinion is codified in the Ran in Tractate Megillah.

Rav Moshe Feinstein in his Responsa writes, concerning a seeing-eye dog:

"Certainly a dog is no worse than a donkey, and there are no greater extenuating circumstances than this, for if we don't permit him [to bring in the dog] he will never be able to pray with a minyan nor hear the reading of the Torah...but it would be best if he sat near the door so as not to create confusion for the congregation."

Due to a technicality regarding the differences in the assumed-intents when constructing a Synagogue in Israel as opposed to Chutz L'aretz, Rabbi Feinstein wrote a decision only for Synagogues in Chutz L'aretz -- although he also offered an argument that would allow a seeing-eye dog in a Synagogue in Israel as well.

Source: http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/11/Q1/

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    Much thanks, and the link is a wonderful reference. Health and happiness to you this new year. Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 13:18

In contrast to R. Feinstein's responsum permitting this (cited in Aaron's answer), R. Yitzchak Abadi has a responsum (Ohr Yitzchak 2:51) forbidding this. He cites R. Feinstein's responsum on the matter 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.

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