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Reigning Cats and Dogs: Angelic Animals in the Jewish Mystical Tradition

Hosted By: The Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto

Over the course of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Christian jurists, theologians, artists, and polemicists increasingly linked Jews with animals. This linkage was intended disparagingly—claims that Jews were fundamentally animalistic served to “de-humanize” them by highlighting their inferiority and irrationality. 

At the same moment that Christian authors were highlighting Jews’ repulsive dog-like traits, Jewish mystics and moralists were embracing the canine designation, and went so far as to elevate dogs to the upper reaches of the angelic realm.

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