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As We Come Closer And Closer
‘… Like The Face Of A Dog’
(Sanhedrin 97a)

Our daf discusses events in the future, including the advent of Moshiach, citing numerous signs and traits of the generation immediately preceding the final redemption.


One of those signs, the Gemara notes, is that “the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog.” Rashi (s.v. “k’pnei kelev”) explains, citing a midrash, that the people of that generation will act like dogs. He also cites another midrash which states that they will lack embarrassment like dogs who go about their needs in public without any shame.


The Rich

Etz Yosef (to Ein Yaakov, Sotah 49a) explains that our sages are referring to the rich men of that generation, who will act like dogs in that they will be very stingy, refusing to give to their destitute brethren.


A Ruse

The Maharsha (Sanhedrin 97a) explains that the generation will possess the face – the mask – of a dog who shows unusual fealty to its master. In reality, though, they will be disloyal to G-d.

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter (cited by Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman in Kovetz Ma’amorim, Ma’amarikvesa d’m’shicha,” p. 115) suggests that the Gemara is referring to the generation’s leaders; they will possess “the face of a dog.” Instead of leading by example and strong leadership, they will look back at every instant, like a dog looking back at its master, to see what the populous wants. They will do whatever best secures their positions of power and prestige. They will not really take into account whether their actions benefit the people or not.


Not Here Yet

Yad Rama (ad. loc.) remarks: “It is much to my dismay that Moshiach has not come in our generation considering the many signs and indications of Moshiach that have already come to pass.”


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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.