Many, when they discover the beauty of Torah, tend to go ballistic in their thinking, and begin to make ridiculously radical changes in their life - all because they have misunderstood and "read into" the basics of Torah. To them, suddenly everything has become taboo and "pagan". They tend to "wrap themselves around the axle" so much, they completely miss the plain meaning (pshat) of the Torah commands.
For instance, we once had someone send us an irate email to admonish us for using our much loved and pampered Miniature Schnauzer, Dallas, as a "doggie model" for some of our memes. "God said dogs and cats are unclean, and that you shouldn't even touch them, much less allow them to live in your house!" the man's irate email said.
And, naturally, this man (who wasn't a doctor or scientist) espoused all kinds of “proof” - obviously stemming from personal opinions gleaned from the Internet - that people with house pets WILL end up with cancer and other diseases.
His Scripture references as "proof that God hates cats and dogs" (I kid you not; that is exactly what he wrote!) included Leviticus 11:24-31 which says "cats and dogs are unclean and you shouldn’t even touch them."
In all actuality, Torah commands us to not EAT "unclean" animals. It doesn't say we cannot "touch" them. The aforementioned Leviticus passages, READ IN CONTEXT, reveal that we are not to touch DEAD CARCASSES ... rather, if you've touched a carcass - which is sometimes necessary, (That's because in ancient times, people didn't have readily available hot and cold running water and soap with which to clean themselves.)
The animals listed in Torah that we are not allowed to EAT are "tamei" - impure. While eating them is forbidden, TOUCHING their carcasses makes YOU "tamei", impure, unclean.
There are generally 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
The bottom line is, there is nothing wrong in having "unclean" animals as pets! Scripture tells us not to EAT them or touch their dead carcasses. Just use some common sense! You won't go to hell for removing a dead animal from the road, or taking your dead pet to the vet for proper disposal. Simply wash your hands afterward. Today, we have the means to cleanse ourselves.
But nothing is even implied that you cannot have an "unclean" animal as a pet. That is "reading into" Scripture! Eve did the same thing while talking to the serpent. Remember, she told the serpent God had said they were not to TOUCH the tree in the middle of the garden: Genesis 3 says she proclaimed, "We may eat from the fruit of the trees of the garden, but about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, 'You are neither to eat from it nor touch it, or you will die.'"
What did God REALLY say?
Genesis 2: 16 ADONAI, God, gave the person this order: "You may freely eat from every tree in the garden 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die."
Nothing about "touching" the tree....
We must pay close attention to what YHWH says, and not add to, or take away from that, while we do our best to live in this lost world.
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