WEEKLY UPDATES 1.19.18 – JEWISH NATIONAL FUND
Dear JNF Campaign Leaders:
This week thirty Jewish National Fund professional fundraisers, who joined our organization within the last two years, participated in a week-long JNF University. This training program is an intense experience to provide our fundraising team with information and skill-building needed to elevate their fundraising skills, and to serve as managers of our local fundraising campaigns. Going forward, JNF will rotate all new fundraisers as well as veteran professionals. I share this with you because I believe JNF University says much about the vision of Jewish National Fund to invest in the professional development of our team to help us grow our business.
Please stay tuned to learn about opportunities JNF is developing for additional training for our volunteer leadership as well. However, I do wish to remind our volunteer team that training opportunities abound for us. We all receive informative e-mails and materials from JNF, such as this weekly Campaign Update (shameless plug), The Robinson Report, and materials such as the 2017 Year in Review, Byachad, and all of JNF’s great videos which you can find on YouTube or Vimeo. In addition, there is no better way to get training and keep current on JNF’s projects and programs than by going to Israel on a JNF mission or attending the National Conference.
Bruce K. Gould
President Elect and Vice President, Campaign
By Yossi Kahana
Torah takes on the close connection that people have had with dogs since the dawn of human history and tells us about the ability of dogs. In this week’s Torah reading, Bo, Moshe stands before the Pharaoh and notifies him in advance what he can expect at the Plague of the First Born. He tells him that there will be chaos throughout the country and that everyone will beg the Jews to get out as fast as possible. And, Moshe adds, “No dog shall whet its tongue to the Jewish Nation.” Even the dogs won’t be barking. Even they will agree with the Jews’ departure.
The Talmud teaches that the reason the Almighty created animals before humans on the sixth day of creation was to teach humans humility so much so that "even a lowly gnat" may be more deserving of life (Sanhedrin 38a).
So, one may infer from here that G-d does indeed love dogs and all the rest of His creatures, too. But does this manifest itself into practical animal activism or does it remain a more generalized and undefined value in Judaism?
Torah is teaching us. Animals can serve as our teachers. There are God-given qualities inherent in the instinctual habits and mannerisms of the animals around us that can actually serve to inspire humans to achieve greater heights of spiritual fulfillment. For example, the very first law in the Code of Jewish Laws is, "Rabbi Yehuda ben Taima said, 'Be as bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer and strong as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven'" (Avos 5:20). Poignantly, this is placed as the first law in a book of Jewish legalities. This idea is most evident in the statement of Rabbi Yochanan, "If the Torah had not been given we could have learnt modesty from the cat, honesty from the ant, chastity from the dove, and good manners from the rooster." (Talmud, Eiruvin 100b). Perhaps we can learn from a dog the power of devotion, loyalty or even having a positive attitude.
The notable sixteenth century Jewish leader, the Maharsha, says that a dog is a creature of love. Hence, the Hebrew name for a dog is "kelev" which is etymologically derived from the words "kulo lev" or "all heart". Now remember that Adam and Eve were instructed by G-d to give all the animals of the world their Hebrew names (Genesis 2:19-20). When they made this personal connection with the beasts of the world, the names they chose were prophetically accurate so as to encapsulate the essence of each animal into a name that truly revealed its soul. (Bereishit Rabbah 17:4). Thus, one may extrapolate from this that the Hebrew name for a dog was precisely chosen to be indicative of the loving soul of this marvelous creature.
So yes, G-d loves dogs. And we should, too.
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