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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Can you truly love an adopted child?

Daf Yomi Kesubos 76

In order to avoid transgressing biblically-prohibited relationships, the Rabbis expanded the laws of yichud – secluding oneself with an unrelated man or woman.  Generally, it is forbidden to be alone with someone who is not your parent, spouse or child.  Likewise, hugging and kissing are prohibited.  But what about adopted children?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was asked the question and ruled that being alone with, and hugging and kissing an adopted child is permissible.  Explained Rav Moshe: When a child is adopted at a young age, one develops a true parent-child relationship and the assumption is that a parent would never act inappropriately with their child.  Just like a biological parent is permitted to be alone with their child, so too may an adopted parent be alone with their child (as long as the parents of the child are married).

But how does a parent-child relationship develop between two unrelated individuals?

If a needle was found in an animal’s stomach and it was visible from only one side, it is kosher; but from both sides, it is treif.  If blood was found on the needle, it is clear that it was wounded prior to slaughter; but if there was no blood found, it clearly happened after slaughter.  If a scab formed over the wound, it clearly happened three days prior to the slaughter; if there is no scab, it is incumbent upon the one who is trying to exact the money from the other to prove when it happened.

The Gemara asks: If the butcher (i.e. the buyer) hadnot yet paid the money, the original owner would have to provide proof in order to get his owed money from the butcher.  But why is that so?  The doubt only arose once in the hands of the butcher (who cut open the animal)?
The Gemara answers: The butcher here has indeed already paid the money.
The Gemara ask: Why is that so clear-cut?
The Gemara answers: Generally speaking, as long as one has not yet given the money, the person will not grant the animal (chayusa).

Giving the money results in getting the chayusaChayusa means animal, but it comes from the word for life.  If you want to get the chayusa – the life and energy – you need to give the money, you need to be prepared to make the investment. 

Many people wonder why they’re not excited and passionate about their Judaism.  It’s because they have not invested the time, money and effort.  You want chayusa ­– life and energy – in your Judaism?  You need to invest time and effort into it.  You want to be excited about learning Torah?  It doesn’t come naturally.  It takes an investment of time and effort into figuring it all out.  You want to enjoy davening?  It takes an investment of time and effort into understanding what you’re saying and staying focused on your relationship with Heaven.

That’s how adoptive parents become just like biological parents: the more you invest in something or someone, the more you become one with them.  Adoptive parents, who invest time, money, and effort into their children, develop a natural relationship with them.  The same is true of the marital relationship, which is not biological: the more you invest in your spouse – emotionally, psychologically, financially, the more the relationship develops and becomes naturalized.

You want life, passion, energy?  You need to invest.  Whether it’s your familial relationships or your relationship with your Father in Heaven, the more time, money and effort you invest into the relationship, the greater the jubilation and oneness you will feel.  May you merit developing tight bonds and incredible passion throughout your physical and spiritual life!