Individual Postings 1st appeared(& were copied in html form) on the Email List Mail Jewish

From: rhendel@king.mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 11:56:35 -0400 Subject: in Yangs, Child raising, and Talmudic Distinctions The recent question by Gerver, Vol24 # 94 really raises two issues: (1) The halachic one: Can children wear face paint and Yin Yang jewelry (I am sure MJ halachic scholars will respond adequately to that), and (2) The Child raising issue: how do you answer (if at all) a child who when told not to wear Yin Yangs for idolatry responds >>But I and my friends don't use it for idolatry,we think it pretty>> It seems to me, that whenever addressing a halachic issue one should also deal with the emotions of the person asking the question. This itself creates the challenge of how one communicates to children the various types of distinctions involved. When I have dealt with such situations I have found it helpful to utilize familiar situations from the childs life. Here are some sample dialogues that might shed light on the problem: PROBHIBITIONS WHERE THE **REASON** IS RELEVANT: e.g. Suppose a father asked his daughter why her room wasn't spotless without e.g. any toys on the floor. She might respond that it is only when guests and specials relatives come that her room has to be spotless (otherwise it just has to be relatively clean). Thus in this situation the *reason* for the law determines if it will apply in a new situation. PROHIBITIONS OF GREAT RISK: Suppose however a father told his daughter not to cross the street because she might get hit by a car. *Even* if the child responded, "But Im going to to try avoid getting hit by a car" the father could still respond that the risk is to great and she should not cross the street. Thus in this situation the *reason* for the law does not alter its applicability in new situations. PROHIBITIONS OF GREAT DISGUST: Similarly, if say a lollipop fell into a toilet with fresh water, which had been carefully cleaned and the father took it out the daughter would probably not want to eat that lollipop even if tests showed no bacteria in the toilet. The reason the daughter would give is that the toilet is too disgusting and one should not eat there. Thus in this situation the reason for the prohbition (absence of bacteria) would not alter the applicability of the law because of the presence of the disgustingness of the situation. Using these simple examples a father can explain to her daughter that idolatry is either too big a risk or too disgusting and therefore if the Yin Yang should turn out to be idolatrous it would be prohibited. One can give further illustrations of the "disgustingness" of idolatry which the child could understand. For example if a drop of milk fell into a fleishich dish there are various laws of majority under which the milk might be nullified. However if a bread crumb fell in on Pesach there would be no nullification. A similar stringency would apply to idolatrous objects. One can also mention the laws of "overlays" of idolatrous objects which are prohibited. I believe these examples can be fruitfully used to deal with the emotions of the child who may perceive the laws as slightly arbitrary. Russell Hendel, Ph.d. ASA, rhende @ mcs drexel edu