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Monday, 26 January 2015

Is your kitchen no longer kosher enough for your children?

Daf Yomi Yevamos 114

Will and Kate had become more and more committed to Torah and mitzvos over the years.  Will had grown up in a traditional home, and his parents, Liz and Phil, kept a basically kosher home.   When Will and Kate went around to his parents’ place, they could always figure out what they were comfortable eating and what they weren’t.  But now, they were struggling with whether they should send their little one, George, to stay with the grandparents.

Liz and Phil were deeply offended.  “You don’t trust us with our grandchild?” they cried.

A person should not tell his child, ‘Bring me a key’ or ‘Bring me a seal’ on Shabbos.  Nonetheless, he may leave him plucking grass or throwing a ball in the public domain.
If the child of Torah scholar regularly visits his unlearned maternal grandfather, we are not concerned that they may feed him untithed food.  And if he subsequently found fruit in his kid’s hand, he need not take it away.

Children themselves aren’t obligated in mitzvos.  We, as parents, have a mitzvah called chinuch – to educate them so that when they reach the age of majority they will know what do and be accustomed to doing it.  But some parents forget the purpose of chinuch and act contrary to the intent of the mitzvah.   While it is forbidden to actively ask a child to transgress Shabbos on your behalf, the Talmud points out that when they are transgressing a rabbinic Shabbos injunction, you don’t need to be concerned.  How many times do we see parents scolding their child for walking out of shul with a candy in their mouth?  That’s definitely not educating them in the beauty and joy of Shabbos!

And chinuch should certainly not be the cause of shalom bayis (family peace) discord.   If your parents want to look after your children, trusting them means that you trust they won’t be feeding your kids treif (non-kosher)!   If they respect your values and lifestyle choices, they will do the right thing by your kids, even if they personally don’t maintain the same standards of kashrut.   It is indeed offensive of you to question their integrity and ultimately, their ability to adequately look after their grandchildren.


Chinuch is one of the most important mitzvos – after all, it’s the foundation of Jewish continuity.  But never forget that it’s only training for later – don’t let your zealousness in the mitzvah of training impede the real mitzvos of chinuch and shalom bayis.   May you merit educating your children demonstrating the positivity and light of Torah and always showing them that the ways of Torah are peaceful and beautiful!