[Avodah] Do dogs have free will?

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Sun Feb 11 12:41:34 PST 2024

We must have discussed this before, but I can't remember...

On Shemos 22:30, Rashi explains that treifos are given to the dogs
specifically as "s'char" (reward - Rashi uses this word twice) for
fulfilling "lo yecheratz kelev l'shono".  Does this s'char prove that the
dogs had free choice in the matter? If not, then why would they be rewarded?

I thought that maybe dogs do NOT have free will (as I expected), but Hashem
is sending us a message, in that the dogs APPEARED to be doing His Ratzon,
and so we might learn from that how important it is for US to do His
Ratzon. However, if we look carefully at Rashi, the Torah's message here is
that Hashem doesn't withhold reward from ANY creature. So my question is
now even stronger. It seems that even other creatures (not just dogs) can
deserve reward.

Please do not confuse this with "v'rachamav al kol maasav" - Of course
Hashem takes care of and feeds all His creatures. But to give a reward
beyond the regular sustenance, how would one get that without deserving it?
And how could one deserve it, if not by overcoming a Yetzer Hara? And even
if a NON-deserving animal gets a reward because its ancestor deserved it,
how did those Exodus-era dogs come to deserve it?

I must be missing something obvious. Thanks in advance for pointing it out.

Akiva Miller
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