Prologue: Frankly, two opposing position in any relationship
could be difficult. In a marriage it could lead to disaster. Among
siblings, the catastrophic effects are too grave to discuss. It
therefore becomes interesting to note how Yitzchak and Rivka could
have such diametrically opposing positions on the chinuch of their
children and the subsequent blessing thereof.
Maran Harav Aaron Soloveitchik notes that the decision of
Yitzchak to bless his older son was an attempt to seize upon his
Midda of Gevurah and hope that through the Beracha, Esav would see
the error of his ways and adopt the position whereby he could
combine Gevura and Chessed creating the ultimate Baal Teshuva.
However, Rivka saw Esav's activities for what they were.
She recognized that there was no way for Esav to become a Baal
Teshuva for his activities were insincere. She felt that the
berachos would only hamper Yaakov's attempts at bringing Chessed
to the world should they not wind up in his hands. As a result,
Yaakov combined the middos of his mother and father creating a
situation of Tiferes, a crowning jewel of glory to the entire
Sometimes opposing views between siblings and parents or
between siblings can get out of hand. Knowing what to do and when
is becoming a hot issue in the Jewish media. Yaakov had to leave
his home as a result of the family strife. This week's chaburah
examines a different type of leaving home. It is entitled:
Sparing the Siblings
The Orthodox Jewish community has been struggling with the
question of the wayward youth for a long time. Within the last two years,
using various means of communication, the plight of these children and
their families has been brought to the attention of our community.
Projects such as TOVA designed to meet the needs of children who are
deemed "at risk" have been formed in many local towns to offer these
children an alternative to the street.
However, the acting out of these children poses another question.
What about their homes? Are the parents, whose child is no long "at risk"
but rather "in bad shape" to continue allowing the child to live with
them? Can they move a child who is on drugs and involved in serious risks
into a non-Kosher institution or even throw him/her out of the house? What
about the siblings? Does Judaism ever allow one to spare one person's soul
for the sake of another?
The Mishna (Terumos 18:12) tells us that if Goyim attack a bunch
of women and demand that they turn over one (for purposes of rape) or they
all will be attacked, they must not turn over a soul and risk being
attacked. The Yirushalmi (Terumos 7:2) states the same Halacha in respect
to a stopped caravan that is attacked. If the attackers demand that those
in the caravan turn over one person or all will be killed they are not
permitted to do o. Reish Lakish and Rav Yochanan argue as to whether a
specified individual may be turned over. Reish Lakish only allows
sacrificing the individual if he is already deserving of the death
penalty. Rav Yochanan allowed the individual to be turned over so long as
he was requested by name. Both opinions are brought in the Rema (Yoreh
The Meiri has a different version of these two texts. The Meiri's
version of the Mishna allowed a known prostitute (even if not specified by
name) to be turned over in order to save other women from rape. Similarly,
he allowed a man who had the status of a Teraifa to be turned over to
spare other people from definite death. He cites proof from a different
Yirushalmi (Terumos, 8:4).
The Maggid Mishneh (Hil. Yesodei HaTorah, chap. 5) cites a Teshuva
from the Rashba who notes that even if the woman is a prostitute she may
not be turned over to the Goyim. The Dagul MiRivava (Yoreh Deah, 157) asks
how the Rashba could contradict a Yirushalmi. However, the Gilyon HaShas
explains that the Machlokes between the Rashba and the Meiri is based upon
two different texts of the Yirushalmi.
There is one point to ponder. These cases where the Meiri and
Rashba argue, concern definite risks of defilement or death. However, in
our case where the risk of danger exists (and the parents aren't really
preventing the defilement even while the child is at home) but it is not
definite, perhaps the Rashba and Meiri would agree that removal to save
the other children would be Mutar. Additionally, the counter claim that
the wayward child is entitled to room and board remains unsubstantiated in
halacha. The Michaber writes (Yoreh Deah 154:1) that parents must finance
their homes not as a Tzeddaka rahter as an obligation. However, this Psak
does not apply to a Mumar L'teiavon (see Shulchan Aruch there).
It should be noted that the Pischei Teshuva (154:1) argues with this Psak
and requires the financing even of a Mumar L'Taiavon.
However, when sparing this child might put the rest of the family
at risk, many Poskim seem to be unsure if Pikuach Nefesh and not saving
one life instead of another would apply. Rav Yehuda HaChossid was most
vocal (see Sefer HaChassidim, Siman 189) who writes explicitly that a
parent should throw a son who is overly argumentative out of his home. He
uses the example of David's error with keeping Avshalom in his home to
prove his point.
Elsewhere (Siman 685) he explains that one is not obligated to
spend his money to feed the child's gluttony (and drug habit?) He
recommends trying to intervene but if that should become impossible, the
father should accept the position that he has no son and prevent the son
from influencing his other children adversely. Certainly where physical
danger to the other children is a possibility, the options for staying at
home are minimal.
Using the Migdal Oz, Rav Metzger (Shut MiYam haHalacha, IV, 85)
adds that the fact that here the rest of the family outnumbers the single
child and that s/he is sick and they are healthy (assumingly so) makes it
Mutar to be Doche Nefesh for Nefashos.
The turn of Halacha concerning this issue highlights the need for the
Orthodox Jewish community to be aware of the problem of wayward youths.
When a child is deemed at risk, (s/)he poses threat not only to himself
but to wellbeing of those living with him in the home. Given Halacha's
realistic stance, (i.e. the need to save the family and split from the
child if Chalila it becomes necessary), communities should adopt the
policy of Efshar l'Kaiyem Shneihem and support, prepare and utilize proper
interventions so that these children, "at risk" or "looking for the
Derech" need not be kicked off the road because of the challenges they
pose to the rest of their families. Recognizing a communal strength in
tackling this growing problem can help us save full families and hopefully
reunite them one day.