November 24, 2013
by Liza Jaipaul
Do animals have souls?
“I think that’s a question that many people wonder about,” said Rabbi Ron Isaacs, who is a spiritual leader at Temple Sholom in Bridgewater — and the author of more than 100 books.
So he decided to write another one and address that very topic.
In “Do Animals Have Souls? A Pet Lovers Guide to Spirituality,” he answers many questions about animals, such as are dogs mentioned in the Bible; is it OK to hunt animals; can cats and dogs be blessed, and much more.
“This book is my newest and most unusual,” Isaacs said. “It’s the one I wanted to do most of my life. I have many years of personal experience as a pet owner and as a rabbi, and many people want some guidance regarding the pets in their lives.”
Isaacs said people have come to him asking for blessings for their dogs, and Read the rest of this entry »
October 28, 2013
by John Patten
Ask any pet lover and they’ll tell you when they look into the eyes of their pet, they see a soulful creature looking back. But many have asked Temple Sholom Rabbi Ron Isaacs if dogs have souls, and if so, is there an afterlife for pets? Rabbi Isaacs has asked himself the same question and others, and searched for the answers—many of which he compiled into a book now published by KTAV Publishing House and available through Amazon.com, as well as at the Temple.
“It’s mostly answers to questions I’ve received during my career,” he said, adding as a dog owner himself, he’s pondered the same questions about animals’ place in our lives, as well as in God’s world.
The topics range from questions such as can one bless a cat and are dogs mentioned in the Bible, to deeper examinations—including the morality of hunting animals and whether or not animals have souls.
“Judaism has a belief that human souls return to a place called ‘Olam HaBa’—World to Come,” Rabbi Isaacs said. “Since nobody has ever gone to the World to Come and returned, everything written about what happens in it is purely a matter of faith and speculation.”
He added Jewish mystics say all living beings—human and natural—have souls, but not all souls are created equal. Humans enjoy a divine spiritual soul enabling us to create a relationship with the Divine, and make moral decisions using our free will—something animals cannot do.
But Rabbi Isaacs digs deeper in his book. Read the rest of this entry »
October 17, 2013
by Rabbi Jason Miller
I never realized I had so many questions about animals until I met my brother-in-law, a veterinary radiologist and a devoted pet lover. It was at the first family dinner that my wife’s sister brought him to that I began to pepper him with questions about animals. I realized that I had an animal expert in my midst and all of a sudden I started to think of the most intricate questions about animals. My kids joined in and began asking him their own animal questions. Listening to his answers and learning from him was a fun experience and something that we have repeated often at family get-togethers.
As a rabbi I can relate to what my brother-in-law must feel when someone learns that he’s an animal expert and suddenly a game of 20 questions ensues. That happens to me when I’m at an event and someone (usually a non-Jew or an unaffiliated member of the Jewish faith) hears that I’m a rabbi. They take that opportunity to ask every question about Judaism that they’ve ever had and I become a living, breathing Wikipedia for them.
Well, now a rabbi from New Jersey has published a book that brilliantly answers the most common questions people have about animals with regard to the Jewish religion. Rabbi Ron Isaacs, spiritual leader of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, tackles close to one hundred interesting questions about animals in his new book Do Animals Have Souls (Ktav). Only yesterday did I finished reading through every question in this book and I chose a perfect time to do it. Last Shabbat in synagogues all over the world we once again read the story of the creation of the world, in which animals and humans are created and then Adam (the first human being) is charged by God with the task of naming the animals. This Shabbat we read the story of the great flood in which Noah was charged by God with the task of preserving the animals by building an ark. Read the rest of this entry »