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Monday, 27 April 2015

Your kids yearn for your protest

Daf Yomi Kesubos 83

Moshe and Tiffany came to see me about their son, Frank.  An honours student in high school, he just found his first girlfriend.  Problem was, she wasn’t Jewish.  Tiffany and Moshe weren’t happy, but their friends were telling them to calm down – after all, Frank’s only sixteen, it’s not like he’s getting married to her.  Should they be concerned?

A Beraisa states: One who declares to his friend, ‘I have no claim or other matter upon this field and I have no business with it and my hand is removed from it,’ he has not said anything that would relinquish his rights.

They asked a question: What if the friend made an act of acquisition following the declaration?
Rav Yosef taught: He acquires the claim and matter (i.e. nothing).
Rav Nachman taught: He acquires the land itself.
Said Abaye: Presumably, Rav Yosef is right in the case where the original owner protested (when his friend started to assume ownership on account of their exchange).  But if he stood there and said nothing for a couple of days, then the friend does indeed acquire the land itself.

When he hears people say that dating non-Jews is no big deal, it’s not intermarriage, Rabbi David Orlafsky famously declares, ‘Dating leads to marriage.  I have yet to meet someone who got married without dating first!’  Sure, Tiffany and Moshe could reason that a sixteen year old high school date is harmless, but if they fail to protest now, they are sending a tacit message of approval.  Or at the very least, they are demonstrating that they’re not so bothered.

Once you let a couple of days go by, or a couple of years, without protesting, it’s too late.  Now’s the time to object to this violation of your family’s values.  The second you invite your kid’s non-Jewish girlfriend or boyfriend to stay for dinner, just to be nice, it’s game over.  You’ve demonstrated that you can live with their choices.

If you only knew how much your kids respect and value your opinion, you’d pull no punches.  They might appear to respond with chutzpah, but deep down, they appreciate and crave your guidance.  In fact, the first time your kid brings home a non-Jewish partner, they’re looking to see your reaction, almost hoping you’ll be their voice of conscience so that they don’t have to make the tough decision on their own.  If instead, you decide to ignore the problem and hope it’ll go away, not only have you let yourself and your own parents down, you’ve let your child down as well.

Don’t wait to protest.  Your child is looking to you for help, from career guidance to their decisions whether to take up smoking and drinking to dating choices.  May you merit the Divine inspiration to guide your children to make the right decisions and the strength to stand up and protest when they take the wrong paths in life!