According to the classical work, Perek Shirah, the "Song of the Dog" is expressed in the following verse:
"Come, let us prostrate ourselves and bow; let us kneel before the Compassionate One, our Maker." (Psalm 95:6)
Those who have taken good care of dogs know that they are loyal creatures who respond with gratitude and obedience. The Song of the Dog is therefore reminding us that we should follow his example in our relationship to the Compassionate One, our Maker. As I reflected on the words of this song, I realized that the dog is also conveying to the human being the following related message:
"You think of yourself as my 'owner' and 'master'; however, in truth, you are only my custodian, for the One Creator of all life is the Owner and Master of all creatures, including you! I therefore invite you to join me in bowing and kneeling before the Compassionate One, our Maker."
It is interesting that Perek Shirah – which ArtScroll refers to as "the Song of the Universe" - concludes with the Song of the Dog. This song must therefore contain a very important message. I would like to suggest that this song contains the secret of how we can regain the higher consciousness that the first human being had in the Garden of Eden before the sin of eating from the forbidden fruit. In my search for this secret, I discovered an important clue in a midrashic work, Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, where it discusses the creation of "Adam" - the first man/woman - in the Garden of Eden. (As we discussed previously, Jewish tradition teaches that "Adam" was originally an androgynous creature with a male and female side, and that the Creator later separated the sides to form two separate beings.) Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer states:
Adam stood and he began to gaze upwards and downwards. He saw all the creatures which the Holy One, blessed be He, had created; thus, he began to glorify his Creator, saying, "O Compassionate One, how manifold are Your works!" He stood on his feet and was adorned with the Divine image. All the creatures saw him and became afraid of him, thinking that he was their Creator; thus, they all came to prostrate themselves before him.
Adam said to them: "Are you coming to prostrate yourselves before me? Come, I and you; let us go and adorn in majesty and might and acclaim as Sovereign over us the One Who created us." Adam went first to acclaim the Creator as the Sovereign, and all the creatures followed him. (Chapter 11)
Rabbi David Luria was a noted sage and kabbalist who wrote a commentary on Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer. Citing the Zohar, Rabbi Luria states that when Adam saw all the creatures coming to prostrate themselves before him, he said to all the creatures, "Come, let us prostrate ourselves and bow; let us kneel before the Compassionate One, our Maker." These are the exact words which are found in the Song of the Dog! According to this explanation, the humble words in the Song of the Dog were first expressed by Adam in the Garden of Eden. This special song is to make us aware that we are not the sovereigns of the earth and its creatures; instead, we are to acknowledge that the Compassionate One is our Sovereign. When we regain this consciousness and begin to serve the Compassionate One in all areas of our existence, we will find our way back to the Garden of Eden.
Have a Shabbat Shalom,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)
P.S. The Art Scroll Perek Shirah – "The Song of the Universe" – is now available in a pocket size edition. For information, visit: http://www.artscroll.com/linker/hazon/home . On this site, there is also information about a new women's Siddur which also has Perek Shirah.