Man’s Best Friend

Having already featured cats, it seems only fair to say a word or two about recent splashes of candid canine moments which, for some reason, all involved cars. Go figure. One scenario starred an impatient dog left in a parked car while its master went shopping. Well, doggie apparently felt enough is enough, and proceeded to honk the horn. Incessantly. Far more shocking is what transpired in a West Virginia Wal-Mart parking lot. Two frisky car-prisoners managed to shift into neutral! The car slowly rolled until bumping into the Wal-Mart building. What could have been disastrous thankfully ended without harm to bodies or buildings. Even the car was fine. Hopefully, though, dog owners will now think twice about leaving their best friends in hot, parked cars.

Although the Wal-Mart canines lacked driving skill, last year a pint-sized Chihuahua was filmed taking a toddler for a spin in a kiddie convertible. Incredibly, the dog successfully maneuvered the 5 mph mini-vehicle for a full minute until it gently bumped into a curb. In 2012, a New Zealand animal shelter executed a publicity stunt to encourage the adoption of three dogs. They taught the dogs Drivers’ Ed. Seriously. And each successfully drove a real car — including ignition, gears, pedals, and steering wheel — and one even managed a hairpin turn! Two of the three were adopted in short order.

A far more eye-opening fact about dogs, though, recently surfaced in the Daf Yomi, Bava Kamma 60b: “When dogs cry, it means the malach hamaves has come to town. When dogs play, it means Eliyahu Hanavi has come to town.” Somehow, dogs sense things that are out of our realm. But why dogs? As lovable as they may be, they’re often regarded as lowly creatures (as in the insult, “you dog!”).[1] Deepening the mystery, both “Eliyahu” and “kelev” have a gematria of 52; and Kaleiv ben Yefuneh’s name is spelled with the same kaf, lamed and veis as kelev!

U’lchol Bnei Yisrael lo yecheratz kelev leshono.” At the moment of makkas bechoros — the final clincher of freedom[2] — there is an emphasis that no dog so much as barked at any Jew or Jewish-owned animal. Dogs symbolized Jewish redemption. Why?

The only two individuals excluded from the non-entry decree were Yehoshua bin Nun and Kaleiv ben Yefuneh, “ki milu Acharai.” The test of the Meraglim was not easy. Kaleiv went to Me’aras Hamachpelah and davened to not be swayed. He faithfully persevered despite witnessing the terrifyingly titanic inhabitants.

That quality of faithfulness is the positive aspect of dogs. Their appellation “man’s best friend” is deserved. Dogs are fiercely loyal to their masters, often despite severe maltreatment.

A faithful messenger completes his mission, no matter what. Eliyahu Hanavi is tasked by Hashem to herald the Geulah[3] and despite the passage of many, many long years, he will faithfully fulfill his mission — just as he was the quintessence of loyalty in his unflagging battle against Achav and Izevel’s pernicious promotion of baal peor.[4] And like the first geulah from Mitzrayim, dogs — with their trait of tenacious loyalty — will manifest that expression of redemption when Eliyahu eventually comes. During ikvesa d’Meshicha, “the face of the generation will be as the face of the dog.” Brazenness — the lowly, negative side of dogs — will abound. At face value, it’s a harsh-toned statement decrying Klal Yisrael’s lowliness upon the advent of Moshiach. However, it also contains a strong chord of consolation. In Mitzrayim — at the 49th level of tumah — we were not in good shape. Nonetheless, Hashem looked past all the filth to the pure, inner core of His beloved children, and helped them bring out their great potential. Although entrenched in idolatrous Egyptian practices, Bnei Yisrael remained loyal to their core identity.

Halevai, Moshiach should come immediately. If c”v he does not, though, and we’ll have to sit on the floor bemoaning our past tragedies and current squalid state — innumerable crises and heartrending tragedies — we cannot overlook our core loyalty to our Father in Heaven. Yes, like the dog, we have serious flaws and failings and are soiled with caked-on layers of tumah. But, when push comes to shove, the Jewish People remains forever loyal to their Master. Hashem will not be put off by our less-than-attractive exterior. Looking past our face, Hashem will focus on our inner, faithful core and help actualize our great potential. May we imminently merit to see Eliyahu Hanavi fulfill his age-old mission, heralding the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

[1]. See also Devarim 23:19, that a sheep swapped for a dog cannot be brought as a korban, because it is an abomination.

[2]. See Brachos 9a that our emancipation took place at night even though our physical exit waited until the following day.

[3]. Malachi 3:23, Rashi Bechukosai 26:42

[4]. Melachim I 19:14

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