Sunday, April 19, 2015

We can't have cats or dogs as pets because they are "unclean"? Hogwash!

Have you ever noticed that some people are just downright dangerous with their skewed ideas and desire to twist Scripture into supporting those skewed ideas?   Lately, we have been hearing a lot about how Believers aren’t supposed to have pets such as cats and dogs because they are considered “unclean.”  These people  (who aren’t doctors or scientists) espouse all kinds of “proof” (stemming solely from personal opinions)  that you’ll end up with cancer and other diseases, and you even risk dying if you own a cat or dog...

These “intellects” often attempt to use Scripture as proof that God hates cats and dogs,  arguing, for instance,  that Leviticus 11:24-31 says cats and dogs are unclean and you shouldn’t even touch them.   Well, those passages, READ IN CONTEXT, reveal we are not to touch their DEAD CARCASSES. And if you've touched a carcass, you are only "unclean" for a prescribed time.

And, oh, by the way -  these commands were given while Israel was wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, and didn’t always have access to soap and water!
The animals we are not allowed to eat are "tamei", they are impure.  These are listed in Torah.  Eating them is forbidden, but touching their carcasses makes YOU "tamei", impure, unclean.  There are genrerally 4 "categories" of "tamei":

1. The internal flesh of "tamei" creatures.  See Leviticus 11:25

2. Dead bodies and animal carcasses.  See Leviticus 5:2, 11:27-28, 31, 39; Numbers 19:11.

3. Human beings who have touched either of these things, or whose bodies have an issue of blood or other bodily fluids; Leviticus 7:21, 11:25, Leviticus 11:27-28, 31, 39; 12:2; 15:2-4, 7-8, 16-33; Numbers 19:11

4. Inanimate objects [esp. furnishings and vessels] touched by 1, 2, or 3.  This is from Leviticus 11:32-38; 15:20, 26

So, there is nothing wrong in having "unclean" animals for pets!  A simple reading of 11:24-31 IN CONTEXT shows this.  Nothing is even implied that you must not "touch" them or own them.


  1. I have one dog and one cat. I love them both. Still not sure, do I need to get rid of them?

    1. No, but when they die and you remove them or have them removed you will be unclean until evening if you touch it and so will anything that you touch. If you call someone to handle the removal of the dead pet anything they touch in your home become unclean until evening and anything you touch behind them you become unclean until evening. Hopw this helps. Keep your furry kids! I have 2 myself!

    2. Great, one "Anonymous" addressing another "Anonymous". Thank you for your comment Anonymous "2". You are correct. Our article cites the scriptures which fully support your conclusion: "Dead bodies and animal carcasses. See Leviticus 5:2, 11:27-28, 31, 39; Numbers 19:11."

  2. You apparently didn't read our article.....

  3. Speaking of soap and water... my husband wants me to hunt bear with him. He is not Torah observant. I told him I won't eat bear because it is unclean. He still wants to hunt it for the fur, to furnish our cabin and sell, so he wants me to fill my bear tag as well. He told me "just wear gloves and wash." I don't want to justify something YAHWEH told us not to do. I know YAHWEH also instructed that when a woman is in her niddah everything she lies on or sits on will be unclean, and whoever touches her will be unclean until evening, etc. Considering we have access to hygiene products and much better sanitation, I wouldn't think whoever touches her or anything she sits on would be unclean now. Right? So by wearing gloves and washing, would I be violating Torah in regards to the bear? And when we put down our dogs, we have to touch them to bury them. And even if I refuse to help gut the animal and scrape the bear skin, would touching the fur pelts, considering no flesh is left, be violating Torah? Because no matter my decision, my husband will still bring the pelts into our cabin. I'm sure YAHWEH made cloths for Adam and Eve out of clean animals, so are unclean animals just not for any use for us?

    1. This is a hugely complex issue, but the bottom line is that if you are uncomfortable with it, then don't participate in it. Psalms 1:1 opens with "...blessed are those who reject the advice of the wicked, don't stand on the way of sinners or sit where scoffers sit!" If your husband (not Torah observant), desires to hunt, then let him! But you don't have to participate.

      But to answer your specific questions, since you know the animal is unclean, you are only unclean until sunset if you have participated in touching the carcass of the animal. Certainly, you should not attend synagogue if your touching of the carcass was after sunset on Friday nights, as you are unclean at the start of the Shabbat. Touching the pelt after it has been cured and prepared, in our opinion, does not make you unclean. Similarly, if you've had to touch a dead dog to bury it, you are only "unclean" till evening.

      But the bigger problem is the killing of the bear in the first place. The heroes of the Bible are generally herders, people who cultivate and nurture animals rather than merely pursue them. Only two Bible characters are named "hunters". Nimrod and Esau. Neither are, shall we say, "good" people. The Torah does not forbid hunting, but specifically refers to hunting wild animals for food (Leviticus 17:13). Hunting for sport is generally frowned upon in Judaism as cruel and dangerous to the the human. It's one thing to kill a bear that is attacking one's camp or home, it's quite another to simply go out and kill a bear that is not bothering you or your property.

      Sit down with your husband and tell him that the issue is more than simply not "eating bear". It is the whole concept of life and the purpose of that life of which you are opposed. Therefore decline to participate with him in the hunting and killing of bear! I hope it works out for you.

    2. "Touching the pelt after it has been cured and prepared, in our opinion, does not make you unclean"

      Why so? Doesn't it qualify as part of an animal corpse?

    3. hbenthow,

      This sort of "questioning" can go on ad nauseam! Rabbis over the centuries have debated this topic. I think the bottom line is that a "carcass" refers to the complete animal. Once an animal, any animal, has been "processed", the "product" which results is no longer "unclean". So animals which are processed for its pelt, even unclean animals, once the hide is processed it no longer imparts tumah (ritual uncleanness).

      It actually makes sense. Generally, you are not "eating" the product which resulted from the unclean animal. Take for instance the "blue" dye which was used in the tzitzit. It came from an unclean animal, but the resulting blue dye used is not considered "unclean"!

      An exception is "gelatin" which comes from the bones of unclean animals. But is gelatin the "meat" of an unclean animal? Are you really eating the unclean animal if your medicine contains gelatin from an unclean animal? The product (gelatin) derived, clearly no longer has anything to do with the original, unclean animal and you are certainly not "eating the meant of an unclean animal". We call this sort of concern: "getting wrapped around the axle". By getting all wrapped around the axle, we miss the important part of the commandment by worrying about ridiculous minutia.

      Another, unrelated example: We once encountered a rabbi who stated that "Toilet paper must be pre-torn before the Sabbath so as not to commit 'work' on the Sabbath." I'm not kidding! This is seriously getting wrapped around the axle!

    4. Thank you for your reply.

      I agree that the Rabbinic tradition of "building walls" around commandments is harmful. That much said, Rabbinic Judaism also contains a tradition of creating false loopholes in scripture where there originally were none.

      For me, it's often hard to tell what is a genuine concern and what isn't, as I have a form of OCD known as scrupulosity. Because of this, I tend to need very conclusive, logical information before I can make a decision on a moral matter.

      I'm currently concerned about the fur issue because I happened to buy a high-quality antique felt hat, and I later found out that the felt in it was made of beaver and rabbit fur.

      To me, it makes sense that touching any part of an animal's corpse would still be considered touching the corpse (just as human bones could defile holy places, even though they weren't a whole corpse). For example, suppose a dog was run over by a car and a leg was torn off. Touching the torn-off leg would (at least in my view) clearly qualify as touching the dog's corpse. And it seems to me that animal skins would qualify as part of the corpse.

      Now, in the case of fur felt, only the fur itself is used (not the skin). And John the Immerser reportedly wore camel's hair clothing (and camels are unclean animals). So the hair of an unclean animal presumably doesn't transmit impurity in and of itself. But the reason for my concern is that in the case of fur felt, the animals are killed and skinned, then the fur is shaved off of their pelts before being made into felt. This brings up the question, does hair become part of a corpse (and thus unclean) after the animal whose it is dies? That is to say, does the death of the animal fundamentally change the nature of the hair into being part of a corpse by virtue of being physically attached to the corpse by roots? Or would only parts of the animal that would cause pain or bleeding if they were to be removed while alive (skin, bones, eyes, etc) qualify as parts of a corpse? Would a wig made of hair shaved off of a human corpse be unclean? If so, it seems that the same principle would apply to animals. Also, would the fur cleaning processes used when making fur felt be sufficient to wash away any blood, skin scales, or other residue from the corpse itself? I can think of all these questions, but the answers elude me.

      By the way, has the claim that shellfish dye was originally used to make the blue in tzitzit ever been definitively confirmed, or just a possibly untrue legend? Could it be that this practice didn't start until later, and the original blue dye was something else, possibly plant-based?

  4. Dead or alive is the scripture, so no you shouldn't keep cats or dogs etc as pets they are unclean. Same issue with pigs aka swine Leviticus also. Leviticus 11:27-28 And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even. 11:28And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you. (Notice how it states firstly whatsoever goes upon all fours are unclean "then" the carcass so dead or alive they are unclean to you period.

    1. Unnamed Sir! You could not be more wrong! Leviticus 11 begins with "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'These are the living creatures which you may eat among all the land animals':". Verse 13 then says "'The following creatures of the air are to be detestable for you...". Then verse 24 says: "The following will make you unclean; whoever touches the carcass of them will be unclean until evening,...". These verses CLEARLY are describing what can and cannot be eaten! We don't EAT dogs and cats, and if we own one that dies, and we must touch its carcass, then we are unclean until evening. That's all!

      Take the camel. It was a work animal. But according to your logic, you could not even own a camel because Leviticus 11:4 says it's unclean.

      But "Carcass" means dead body! Not only do you not eat animals which are deemed unclean, but touching the dead bodies of all animals, clean animal (11:39) or unclean animal, renders you unclean for a time.

      Owning any of these "unclean" animals is not prohibited! You are not eating them, so that does not make you unclean! And when one dies, you must deal with the carcass which renders you unclean for a time.

    2. Okay. So now it seems, we are down to an unclean animal can be used to work for us. Yet, they are not kept in our home, as a dog or cat is. I can see that a dog can be a watcher - a protector, yet they are scavengers. A cat can be a vermin catcher. Do we want they inside?

    3. As long as you're not EATING them, Anonymous, you're fine. Nothing in Scripture says you cannot have them as pets or working animals.

    4. To add... In general, sir, animals which are not domesticated, are NOT kept in our homes! Some, perhaps, as a hobby, but they are kept as a curiosity, and usually in cages. As Carmen said, you don't have any of these animals in your home to eat! Large pack animals, which are permissible to eat are typically kept out of the home. It seems you are grasping at straws. If I wish, I can keep a gecko in my home as a "pet". I don't plan to eat it, and if it dies, I simply get rid of it and I am unclean for a while. For crying out loud! You have uninvited spiders in your home all the time, but they are unclean! Give me a break!

  5. Sorry, but that's ridiculous! "Unclean" refers to EATING them. But since you clearly aren't into animals as pets, then it's good for you to stay away from them....for both your sakes.


All comments are moderated.