Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Miriam Bas Bilgoh and Parental Responsibility

Regarding the story of Miriam Bas Bilga in the end of Maseches Sukkah. In the case of an adulterous bas Kohen, the Torah says (in Parshas Emor, Vayikro 21:9) Es ovi’ho hi mechalleles. Rashi there brings from Sanhedrin 52a "Chilleloh ubizesoh es kvodo, she’omrim olov orur shezu yolad orur shezu gideil."

This has application in halocho lemaiseh— the Gemora in Sanhedrin 52a brings a braisa from R’ Meir and R’ Yishmoel that the community no longer should honor him, and that the community says about this rosho "orur shezeh yolad, orur shezeh gideil, orur shezeh yotzo meichalotzov, (and the Marsho says that these expressions refer to his/her mother, nursemaid, and father, respectively) and the Gemora there bring that R’ Ashi holds that this braisa justifies the fact that we call a rosho "reshi’a bar reshi’a" even if his father is a tzadik (which seems to show that the father really is a tzadik, but we call him a rosho when talking about his son). In Orach Chaim 128 in the Ramo he brings shittos that the community no longer has to give the father, a Kohen, the first aliah or precedence in bentching. The Mogein Avrohom in s’k 62 says two things: first, that the chillul of the father is only when the daughter was mezaneh, because the father should have seen to it that she was never alone with someone else, and then he brings the Mordechai that applies this din to a meshumedes, but the Mogein Avrohom explains that really meshumedes is also based on the assumption that she was mezaneh, and although she left his house when she was mishtamedes, the father could have instilled an aversion for promiscuity when the daughter was younger, as we find that Shmuel didn’t let his daughters sleep in the same bed so that they would not get used to contact with another body. The Mishneh Brurah, however, says that we are not noheig like those that penalize a Kohen with daughter-problems.

Note, too, that if the parents are blamed for bad children, they should take credit for good ones. See the Gemora in Yoma 86 where the tzidkus of a son reflects on the father, and vice versa, at least in the way people see him, and the Mahrsho there that says that people ascribe the son’s behavior to whether the father taught him lishmo or lo lishmo.

But the very serious issue here is, I don’t understand how you can blame the father. Was Avrohom responsible for Yishma’el? Yitzchok for Eisov? Dovid for Amnon, Avsholom, and Adoniahu? (Regarding Adoniahu, see Melochim I 1:6, "velo atzovo oviv miyomov leimor madu’a kocho osisoh." Krasner in his Nachlas Shimon brings the Abarbenel that says that unlike Eli, whose sons were called ro’im, and who was considered at fault for not rebuking them, see beginning of Shmuel I, Adoniahu was not a sinner, but only expected to inherit his father’s throne. But he also brings Rashi who quotes a Chazal that from here we learn that "kol hamonei’a tochocho mibonov meivi’o lemissoh.")

Research on the relationship between parenting and youthful offending has found an association between lax parenting and youth crime (Humm, 1991). Loeber and Stoutbamer-Loeber (1986, cited in Goetting, 1992, p. 4) found that "lack of parental supervision, parental rejection and lack of parent-child involvement, were among the most powerful predictors of juvenile conduct problems and delinquency."–

And what about bechira? Shouldn’t we take as given that everyone has a free range of bechira, so this girl, too, had bechira, and could have chosen to be good, but chose of her own free will and free choice to be bad, that choice having nothing to do with her father’s way of raising her? Does this prove that bechira is narrowly restricted to the area around habituation, and the father is responsible for raising a daughter whose range of bechira is at the bottom of the scale? What about the alleged Gaon that a person is ne’enash for bittul Torah during his baptism? Doesn’t a person also get schar for not going to get baptized while he is learning Torah?

See R’ Shternbuch’s Ta’am Voda’as here on 21:9, where he says, k’darko, that you shouldn’t think that Rashi’s "She’omrim orur shezeh yolad..." means that people say it but it is not necessarily true– he says that it is really true. That is, that if a son goes off the derech, "vadai no’utz hakilkul vehapgam b’oviv." And if a parent hasn’t implanted ahavas Torah and yiras shomayim to the level sufficient to protect from the yetzer hora, "beyodu’a shepogum hu atzmo bemiddas ha’arochoso lechayei kedusha vetaharo." I really would like to know what R’ Shternbuch would say about the gedolim of Torah and Mussor that had children that, rachmono litzlan, went off the derech.

But several things are clear: first, if a parent is told that he is absolutely responsible for the moral behavior of his child, that he is exclusively responsible for what his child does, that parent would be extremely serious about how he raises the child. And second, the fact that the parent is responsible does not diminish the child’s responsibility at all. The parent may have made it easier for the child to sin, but as long as the child is not an onnus, as in the case of a tinok shenishbeh, the child remains 100% responsible.

It is, however, very important to remember that the Gemora’s expression "shuto d’y’nuko b’shuko oh d’avuhei oh d’imei" limits itself in two very important aspects. First, it says "d’y’nuko," which means this is true only in the case of a young person. Second, it says "b’shuko," which means that this is true only when the child does so in a public fashion, and not merely among his friends. Similarly, the din of Bas Kohen is specific to a na’aroh of 12 years old who was mezaneh after hasro’o, which is basically in public, so it both in the age and in that it is "beshukoh."

However, note that at the end of the parsha of Bas Kohen, we have the story of Shlomis bas Divri’s son, the mekallel, and there is a definite association of his aveira with his mother’s attitude.

Speaking of the alleged Gaon, I saw that the Biur Halocho in 199:2 discusses this, and brings a Rambam that Yerovom Ben Nevot is ne’enash for cooking on Yomtov shelo letzorech, etc. See there. And I saw someone quote the Tollner Rebbe in Yerusholayim, a young and talented Rebbe, who said that he heard from the Gerrer re: the Gemora in Shabbos that saying Yehei shmei rabboh with all your koach is a mechaper even for chillul shabbos, and even for shemetz avodah zora, that you see from there that even a person with a shemetz AZ can say YShR with all his koach.
Anyway, this is all not like R’ Dessler’s "point of bechirah" concept.

Also, see the Sfas Emes in the beginning of Parshas R’ay who says that despite having done an aveira, a person has bechira every day to do teshuva, as it says "hayom brocho uklolo." I think that the truth is that the bechira exists, but the likelihood is that the person will continue doing what he has done before– anything is possible, but the smart money is on habit. For example: at the end of Achrei Mos, the Torah warns us to not do a list of disgusting things; and at the beginning of Kedoshim, the Torah tells us to be holy and refined. It seems that the Torah is talking to two people, and each has to be told different things.


  1. I didn't mean to critcize last post but you give so to comment on I am only capable of focusing on 2 and even then insufficently.Sorry.(1)I think Rav Shlomo Kluger says in hakdamah to his SHU'T that a father is only guilty for his childs actions if the child didn't display a bad nature and tendecy to be bad as a kid(2)Much as I would love to agree with Rav Desslers nekudas habechirah to my sorrow I have never seen anyone geve any type of source for it in gem and rishonim.To the contrary on the gem of 'yilbash sechorim' the RIF and ROSH unlike usual comment on agadah by saying "WE don't hold like Rav Eloy as H'Kol byidey shmoyim.As such I feel compelled to accept Rav Desslers gransons explantion that REED was only reffering to someone who was raised by reshyim and therefor had no bechira as he couldn't understand his actions were wrong ,not a excuse for people who don't have self control Vtzorich Iyun.

  2. I wish there were many more Yehudas.

    Thank you for the Mareh Mokom. I hope it's on my disk of tshuvos.

  3. I checked the Hakdomo to Ho'elef Lecho Shlomo, and didn't see it there. If you have a clearer mareh mokom, please forward it.

  4. RSK wrote many SHU'T sforim and more.I once wanted to see that alleged statement inside myself but despaired when I saw how many hakdomos I would have to go through.
    A new day however deserves another comment on your post.You ask on the gaon 'Does someone get schar for not being baptized while learning'?The gem kiddishin 39b says 'one who sat and didn't do an avera gets schar as if he did a mitzvah.The gem continues to say that this is only if an oppurtunity to do an avera was available to him.ayin shom.As far as the Gaon;he is quoted in a different case by the CC intro to shmiras hlashon 'asey 12'.It must be noted that this is going l'shitos CC/Gaon/Ra'an (nederim 8a)that there is a CHIYUV talmud torah every second one has the strength for it.