Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My Son's Heresy

My youngest child, three years old, is having a rough summer. Sure, he's had fun experiences, like seeing the dinosaurs at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, and the amazing Noah's Ark at the Skirball Museum. He also decided to change his name to Batman. But we took away his pacifier, which makes it very difficult for him to fall asleep at night.

The other night, Batman was sorely missing his pacifier, and his grouchiness led him on a tirade against everything that's wrong with the world. In particular, he brought up an incident from a few days previously that had greatly bothered him. He had elected to eat a salami sandwich before finishing his chocolate milk, and he was extremely upset when we told him that he would have to wait in order to finish his chocolate milk.

We thought that Batman had gotten over this, but he hadn't. As his pacifier-deprived state led him to recount one grievance after another, he brought up the salamai-choco incident.

"It's not fair that Hashem doesn't let me have choco after my salami sandwich," he moaned. "Hashem is such a meano!"

Ouch! What does one respond to that?!

One family member suggested telling him that min haTorah, only cooking them together is forbidden, and it's the rabbis that are "meanos." But this didn't seem like a great idea.

My wife and I decided that, at this age, he's not going to be able to understand the benefits of kashrus. Rather, we should emphasize all the great things that Hashem enables him to experience, which outweigh the "meanness" of having to wait for his choco. What do you think?

(Halachically, a child is permitted to eat dairy without waiting. Still, one should try to train them otherwise. And, trust me, if it wouldn't have been this incident, he would have found another example of why Hashem, along with everyone else, is a "meano"!)

48 comments:

  1. Considering that straight up ashkenazi halacha requires waiting one hour and washing out the mouth, I think there are more then plenty of grounds for allowing a three year old to each milk after meat (not together, but one after the other).

    I believe this is standard practice.

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    1. Your comment suggests to me the interesting idea of progressively increasing the waiting time as the child gets older (much like the accepted approach to fasting).

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    2. I have seen it written in the name of Rav Elyashiv as follows (I'll look through the various books that I have for a source, bli neder):
      0-3 years of age: just make sure they don't eat meat and milk together.
      3-6 years of age: have them wait 1 hour from meat to milk
      6-9 years of age: have them wait 3 hours from meat to milk
      9 years and up: have them wait a full 6 hours

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    3. A book I have, "הכשרות" by Rav Yizchak Ya'akov Fuchs, brings as follows (not exactly what I wrote above) in Chapter 10, paragraph 44: up to age 3, they can eat milk right after meat, as long as their mouth is clean from any meat.
      Above age 3--1 hour.
      Above age 5--3 hours
      Above age 10--6 hours
      There are sources brought in support of this, which I haven't checked yet.

      However, in the notes he brings the opinion of Rav Ya'akov Kaminetzky who said that even to make a child between ages 3-6 wait an hour is a חומרא יתירה.

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  2. Only dutch custom allows waiting one hour between meat and milk. Both ashkenazi and sephardi custom, as defined in the shulchan aruch by Rabbi Yosef Cairo and the Rama, state clearly that both groups of Jews must wait 6 hours between meat and milk.

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    1. This is incorrect. The Rema recommends 6 hours as an extra stringency; the main halakha is to wait an hour.

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    2. also wrong, ashkenazi main halacha is also not to wait at all. Look closely at the Rema, even one hour is a chumra, either way, if you give in to every chumra/minhag you'll end up having kids who start complaining about everything

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    3. Not to wait at all and just rely on cleaning and rinsing the mouth is a יש אומרים in the Rema (the opinion of Tosfos).
      He says the widespread custom in his country is to wait one hour, as long as the person also said an after berachah/birkas hamazon.

      But he concludes that there are strict people who wait 6 hours, and this is the proper thing to do.

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    4. The Rama does not state 6 hours. The Rama writes that the Halacha is to wash out your mouth and wash your hands. That is it!!! However he states that his custom is to wait an hour. The Yor'ei Deah is the one who says you have to wait 6 hours.

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    5. These are the words of the Rema (Yoreh Deah, end of 89:1):
      ויש מדקדקים להמתין שש שעות אחר אכילת בשר לגבינה וכן נכון לעשות:

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  3. What to tell children is always an interesting question, and I've occasionally heard surprisingly profound and well-articulated ideas coming from the mouths of ordinary parents forced to explain something to their children in just a sentence or two.

    In the situation you described: I personally would have also gently said that everything Hashem does is for the good, that He is not chas v'shalom mean, and that if He tells us not to do something it must be for a very good reason.

    But I wouldn't fret too much about this incident. Kids do not wind up "messed up" as adults because of something you said or didn't say to them as children. I think we should do the best we can and not worry so much (as some modern-day parents tend to do).

    May you have much nachas from the young one, and from all your other children too!

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  4. It's extremely questionable, to say the least, that "the rabbis" require any waiting period whatsoever and, anyway, if your son is three years old, it's not remotely true that you should try and "train" him.

    http://machonshilo.org/en/eng/list-audio-shiurim/41-audiohalakha/395-meat-and-milk-series

    You can take the zooologist out of the Yeshiva, but you can't take the Yeshiva out of the zoologist. (Parenthetically, I think its pretty mainstream even in the Haredi world to look the other way on this issue. It's a pretty characteristically BT thing to do otherwise.)

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  5. "Chinuch leMitsvot" does not have to mean forcing children to keep them.

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  6. Hashem gave him the salami and the choco FOR FREE, all He wants is for him to wait a little bit? Sounds like a good deal - where's my salami sandwich?

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  7. It is never easy. We always explain the consequences of the meat choice from early on - and as a result ended up with two almost-vegetarians among our four. It is harder to explain why they could (when younger) and cannot now (when they are older) than to keep the line clear from the start, so in terms of chinuch/gidul banim I think you did the right thing. Regarding Hashem as a meano - once they are old enough to talk about neshamah, and this varies from kid to kid, we explain that certain actions do your neshamah good, in ways we don't necessarily understand, and things we think are a bother eventually are good. When we go to the grocer's and we see lobster there, we talk about the cruelty of boiling animals alive, and how we are supposed not to be cruel, etc. Eventually they get that what looks like mean is actually good, like taking a shot at the doctor's - but that was my 7 y.o.'s explanation, once the doctor explained about polio and other diseases.

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    1. I had a friend in yeshiva who really liked ice cream - every time he was about to eat meat, he literally hesitated and considered the consequences.

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  8. Are you looking for a discussion of the practicality/livability of halacha d'oreisa vs. d'rabanan, a discussion of how to teach theology to children, or a discussion of theodicy?

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  9. Actually I was fishing for compliments on how cute he is!

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    1. In that case, he's adorable. :-)

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  10. You refer to "the benefits of kashrus". There are indeed benefits, yes, but the waiting thing between meat & milk isn't one of them. That is just a pure example of chumrah creep, and chumrah extensions piled on top of chumrah extensions. We are saddled with it today because of the slippery-slope fear that if we get rid of that, the whole thing will crumble.

    I too share the slippery-slope concerns, but not enough to make myself crazy over it. So I changed our family minhag from 6 hours to 3 hours about 15 years ago, around the time I got married. Simple, no controversy, no raised eyebrows. Best thing I ever did. I maintain the tradition, but now I can have something dairy at night if I want, I can have a late afternoon chocolate, I can have ice cream on the long summer Shabbos afternoons. Sounds funny, but that one little move made a big change in my quality of life.

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  11. You should tell him about all of the wonderful malochim that he will be creating, and how he is avoiding giving koach to the sitra acharuh, and that shaidim might have some shlita over him if he is nichshol...

    What's that you say? Ooops, sorry, wrong door, I was looking for MysticalKabbalisticYiddishkeit.com, down the hall to the right.

    Andy

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  12. So the consensus here is that it was really the parent who was "meano" and but the blame was deflected onto God :)

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  13. Three years old. THREE YEARS OLD?? Seriously? I would have said, "Sweetie you're almost done waiting ~ just two more minutes! I'm so proud of you for being patient! Oh, LOOK! Time's up! Here's your chocolate!"

    This is minhag, NOT HALACHA. Germans wait, 3 hours, Dutch (I think) wait one. Lakewood waits 5 1/2 hours. Why in grain in a child this negative experience? And trust me ~ 20 years from now your young adult son will say, "Boy, I remember how I couldn't finish my chocolate milk once when I was three because Abba wouldn't let me!" (A other of six, ages 41-26. Believe it!)

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  14. הרשי

    Do not read "heresy" but "Hershey"

    RM

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  15. I'm a firm believer in sidestepping an issue whenever possible. Why not try offering "choco" with almond or soy milk? Your son (yes, very cute) may not end up liking it, but then again he might. Problem solved -- at least until he grows older and encounters other, deeper reasons to accuse Hashem of being a meano, at which time you can learn Sefer Iyyov with him...

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  17. Perhaps the following strategy/argument might work. Everything has rules. This house has rules about bedtime. It's earlier for little children and later for older ones. It also has rules for waiting after eating meat before having dairy like chocolate milk. Little kids wait a little, older kids wait longer, and big kids and parents wait over 5 hours. Some rules parents make for their children; others, like waiting after meat, the old rabbis made for people; still others were made by GOD and written in the torah. If that doesn't work, let the cute little kid have some water, followed by his choco.

    Y. Aharon

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    1. Good point. Part of the essential philosophy of rabbinic judaism as expressed through halakha is creating an objective framework for religious experience that sanctifies every facet of our human experience. This requires legalistic rules.(Obviously, the universality and totality of halakha grew exponentially from the time of the gemara until today, even without taking into account chumras of the past 40 years. But the basic philosophy is there).

      By the way R. Slifkin - my young Israeli cousin is Batman, and he insists he is the only one - perhaps someone should study this phenomenon.

      R Stefansky

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  18. The way i raised my pretty charedi kids was that up to 3 years old just not meat and milk at the same meal. 4 year olds wait an hour, and you add an hour for every year they get older, so that a 9 year old has to wait the six hours. That seemed to be the most age apropriate thing to do. As for God being a meano, you can communicate ro a 3 year old that we have so many meaningful things like shabbos treats and good stories abd the torah that balance the chocolate milk and bologna thing. It worked for my kids. (Mostly)

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  19. Calling Hashem a meano, wouldn't that be blasphemy rather than heresy?

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    1. I guess if you consider God's benevolence part of the ikkarei emunah, it would.
      Acc. to Rambam, it is, but then again, technically, so is saying He's kind and caring.

      R Stefansky

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    2. +1 for the second line. You got there before I could...

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    3. Thanks R. Are you related to Rabbi Stefansky from Toronto?

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  20. I just thought of this on the spot: You can explain that waiting to drink the milk is like waiting for glue to dry. If you move the pieces too soon, the pieces won't stick properly. (Maybe this analogy is more mystical than rational, but I think a toddler would appreciate it.)

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  21. What's with all the tip-toeing around a three-year-old?

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  22. Wouldn't his older brothers and sisters complain they have to wait, so should he?

    Or you can turn it into a be a "big boy" game.

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  23. 30 Lashes. You think I jest ? Frum parents and Teachers have been known to do worse. Lucky he is your Dad.

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  24. Since even a half hour seems like FOREVER to a three year old, I would require him to wait only a half hour. As the children get older,they should wait longer, until they wait the same amount as the adults in the family. I would tell the older ones, he's too young to know how to wait, but you are bigger--you know how to do it better. It's a sliding scale--older gets special treats (like staying up later) in return for more responsibilities.

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  25. To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, people get the children they deserve, good and hard.

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  26. You decided to take him to the museum and exposed him to dinosaurs. Heresy is the natural consequence.

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  27. ד,כג [יח]

    רבי שמעון בן אלעזר אומר, אל תרצה את חברך בשעת כעסו, ...

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  28. Tell your son he is following Tosfot Chullin 105a, and give him an icecream.

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  29. In light of child psychology and your child's reaction making your son wait so long does not strike me as a very rationalist approach.

    MO

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  30. I believe it's actually been demonstrated that time passes more quickly as you get older. So yeah, a half hour or so seems OK.

    To make things clear, waiting isn't even a derabbanan. Derabbanan is *at the same time*- i.e., drinking milk while eating a hamburger, or a salami and cheese sandwich. (D'orayta is cooking together.) Derabbanan you can even have ice cream after a meat meal. Everything else is minhag- good minhag, but still.

    Does your son wear a kippa? Tzitzit?

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  31. This reminds me of an incident with my 2 year old when we were invited to the home of Rav Simcha Wasserman and his rebbetzin ztzl for a shabbat lunch meal. As we were about to leave having eaten the rebbetzin's delicious fleischig lunch, my 2 yr old said she wanted milk. I was very embarrassed but the rebbetzin insisted on personally serving her a glass of milk. She said if a small child requests milk one should always comply as it signifies a need, not a want.

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  32. 1. Chocolate milk is unhealthy. Never give it to a child.
    2. Salami is full of nitrates. Never give it to a child.
    3. On a more serious note, it is said in the name of Reb Moshe Feinstein, and it quite makes sense, that the age of chinuch for a child in these matters is when they understand the concept of time. A three year old, as precocious as your adorable one is, is unlikely to be there.
    Incidentally, RMF, in his teshuva about chinuch, advises teaching a child how much good comes from hashem, so he will not resent the difficulties of keeping halocho.

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  33. Sounds like your son is…
    ~Creative and expressive.
    ~A ma’amin.
    ~Three
    So he is…
    ~Venting his frustration and possibly pushing your buttons.
    He is not, posing a philosophical existential question. He is not even phrasing it in question form. Why all the shaklah ve’tarya about what to explain to him? Imho, these responses are all for another time, if at all.
    For now (then)…
    ~ignore
    ~respond in eyebrow motion or single sound language,
    ~distract and substitute.

    Rov nachat!

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  34. I'm in my 30s, orthodox, and i'm not quite clear on the "benefits of kashrut" as currently practiced. At what age might that occur?

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