KOSHER DOG FOOD
Rabbi Shlomo Freundlich
As human beings we are constantly showered with goodness from a variety of sources. Hashem gives us good health, loving family and friends, and countless other benefits which we often take for granted. Parents care for children in many ways that youngsters cannot even imagine.
As human beings we are constantly showered with goodness from a variety of sources. Hashem gives us good health, loving family and friends, and countless other benefits which we often take for granted. Parents care for children in many ways that youngsters cannot even imagine. Our friends provide us with valuable support to help us navigate the stormy waters of social relationships. A spouse infuses a reality and richness into one's life that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. Indeed, we owe a lot of thanks to the many individuals who assist us and enrich our lives.
Yet, one of the terrible pitfalls which we all succumb to is the "What have you done for me lately?" syndrome. If Hashem deals us a curve ball, we wonder why He is so unfair; when parents do not accommodate the whims of their children, their kids angrily accuse them of never being sensitive to their needs. When a friend or a spouse fails us, we are accustomed to vent our displeasure at them by bemoaning the fact that they are never there when we need them. Instead of feeling an intense debt of gratitude (hakarat hatov) for all of the past good which we have received from them, we shift our emotional focus to the negative which is confronting us in the present situation.
The Torah is aware of this frailty in human nature and responds with enlightening instruction. We are told in this week's Torah portion to give the carcass of torn animals, which are thereby rendered unkosher, as food to the dogs (Exodus 22:30). The commentaries tell us that this is a fitting reward for the dog who was commonly employed by shepherds as a guard against the intrusive predatory animals which would stalk their flocks. The obvious question here is that if there is a dead sheep in the flock, it means that the guard dog failed in his task and did not alert the shepherd of the approaching predator. The Torah is teaching us to nevertheless reward the dog for all of the good that it has provided his master in the past, rather than simply focus on its present shortcomings. Wouldn't it be beautiful if all of us genuinely took this Torah lesson to heart?
Rabbi Shlomo Freundlich has been teaching at the Yeshiva High School of Atlanta for over a decade.
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