Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bamidbar 3:1-2. Parents are Parents, Whether by Birth or Through Adoption כאילו ילדו and other "כאילו"s

This was originally posted in 2010.  It is one of the collaborative pieces that I enjoy so much, including contributions from great Unknown, Micha, Chaim B., Nosson Gertner, and Eli..  I've added a paragraph and made some modifications. Yesterday, I re-posted it under its original title, but Reb Micha, in a few wise and poignant comments, explained to me why the original title was not what I wanted or needed to say. Because I'm deleting the more recent posting, I'm reproducing Micha's recent comments at the end of this post.  I also added a few words from R Asher Weiss.

The passuk begins by saying "These are the generations of Moshe and Aharon," and then lists only Aharon's children, Nadav and Avihu.  Rashi says that from here we learn that one who teaches another's child Torah "Ke'ilu/כאילו" it is as if he fathered him.

We find a similar expression in Sanhedrin 19b (from Michal bas Shaul) and Megilla 13a (from Basya bas Pharaoh) where it says
כל המגדל יתום ויתומה בתוך ביתו מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו ילדו 
that one who raises an orphan in his  home "it is as if he fathered him."  The concept is the same, but Chazal derive the two ideas from different pesukim.

One has to wonder, what does "כאילו/as if" mean?  Is this homiletics or is it a statement of halacha?  Is it meant to be taken at face value?  Do Chazal really mean that if you raise an orphan, or teach a child Torah, that he is your child?

Reb Shlomo Kluger, in his first comment in Even HaEzer, says that this depends on a machlokes between the Taz and the Drisha in Yoreh Dei'ah 242 regarding the concept of מורא רבך כמורא שמיים.  The Drisha says that the Choph hadimyon, the "Ke'ilu," "as if," does not necessarily indicate real parity.  It just means that the one has certain aspects of the other.  The Taz, on the other hand, says that Ke'ilu must be understood to mean halachic parity. The Chochmas Shelomo says that the same machlokes will apply to Chazal's dictum המגדל יתום ויתומה בתוך ביתו מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו ילדו.  According to the Drisha, one who raises an orphan would not thereby fulfill the mitzva of Pru Urvu, the mitzvah to have children.   But according to the Taz, one who raises an orphan fulfills the mitzvah of Pru Urvu.  (He says more there; it's worth reading.)

--Avrohom said that he finds it hard to understand that megadel yasom could fulfil pirya verivya, because that  mitzva is generally related to increasing the number of people in the world.  I responded that raising a child means that you're keeping him alive, and just as bringing people into the world is a mitzva, so too keeping them in the world is the same mitzva- as indicated in the Tanchuma I bring below regarding the relationship between Moshe Rabbeinu and Yisro.

--great unknown, in the first comment below, pointed out an interesting thing- that Reb Shlomo Kluger himself was an orphan raised by the Dubner Magid (which is a nice story, see here.  He did learn by the Dubner- see here- but he was a talmid, and although he was an orphan at that point, he was not the Dubner's foster child.  Apparently, his uncle took him in, or arranged for him to learn by various rabbeim/yeshivos.).  Chaim B notes that Rav Amiel in his Middos Le'cheker Halacha vol. III has a lengthy disquisition on the permutations of "ke'ilu" and K' in Chazal.  (Good luck reading it.  Don't expect the same lucidity as Drashos el Ami.  To me it reads like a hybrid of Reb Shimon Shkop's lomdus and Rav Kook's prose.)

The Taz cannot be taken too far.  Obviously, there is no din erva/prohibition of incest midoraysa with an adopted child.  Ugly and depraved, yes, but incest, no. Incest depends on a biological relationship, and a virtual child is not a biological child.  The din of ke'ilu only applies to the relationship between these two individuals, not to external ramifications of that relationship.  Also, I doubt that Reb Shlomo Kluger would say the Taz holds that one who teaches a child Torah is mekayeim Pru Urvu.  But who knows?  After all, the original Taz said his shittah regarding the obligation to honor and fear a teacher, which he says follows from the Chazal that one who teaches is like a father.

On the other hand, Reb Shlomo Kluger's pshat in the Taz would certainly apply the dinim of Arrur Makleh Aviv and Missas Beis Din by Makeh and Mekalel to an adoptive parent if not for Ein onshin min hadin.  But at least there would be an arrur for Makleh.

Teenagers in the 90s had a sarcastic expression, "as if." The phrase conveys the absurdity of something that another person has alleged. So it turns out that "as if" is tolui in the machlokes between the Drisha and the Taz.

Practical relevance of this issue:
  • Many poskim say that there is no issur of yichud with an adopted child because their emotional relationship is that of a parent and a child (Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igros EH 4:64:2, but only so long as the adoptive parent is married; and Rav Eliezer Waldenburg in Tzitz Eliezer 6:40:21, but only if the adoption took place before a girl was 3 and a boy 9 years old.  The osrim are the Chazon Ish, the Steipler, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and Rav Vosner.  Ask your CLOR!) 
  • Reb Aharon Soloveichik once said that as a young rav, he was asked who should walk the Chassan to the Chupah- the natural or the adoptive parent.  He said that the adoptive parent should walk him down.  He said that he took a lot of criticism for his advice, but he was steadfast. 
  • Similarly, there are poskim that say that when getting an aliyah, or writing a shtar like a kesuva, the adopted child may write "ben [adoptive father's name]".  (Others disagree: see Choshen Mishpat 42 in the Gaon #42.  Reb Moshe in EH I:99 says you should write the biological truth, and if we do not know who his father is, you should write "ben a person whose name is not known, and raised by [adoptive parent's name], although when you read it under the chuppah, you can make concessions to avoid embarrassing the person.  Ask your LOR!)
  • This really expands the previous point, but deserves a paragraph of its own.  Micha, in a comment to the original post, pointed out that calling a child "Ploni ben adoptive father" gets complicated where one is e.g., a Kohen and the other is not, and poskim that generally allow "Ploni ben adoptive father" change their position in such cases.  I don't know why, though.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of people whose fathers were kohanim and who themselves are not kohanim, due to having been the product of a marriage prohibited to a kohen.  Besides the frum ones, I know a fellow named Christopher Cohen, a lawyer.  His mother is not Jewish.
  •   I was at a wedding where the biological father had converted to Judaism after his daughter, the kallah, was born.  This is a classic example of a problem in the kesuva.  You can't write that the kallah is his daughter, because al pi din, they're not related.  On the other hand, he raised her, so you have those poskim that allow writing the foster father's name.  I was not the mesader, baruch Hashem, but I got a lot of grief for not making a tumul about the problematic kesuva.  Why didn't I?  For two reasons.  First, because if I had, the chassan would have said מה לי ולצרה הזאת and gone home with his kallah without any kesuva.  Second, because although as I said most poskim hold not to use the foster father's name, an interesting argument can be made to allow it in this case, where he's the biological father and he raised her too!
  • By the way, Rav Sherira Gaon says that Abbaya of the Gemara was not really named Abbaya, but Nachmeini, after his grandfather. His father had died before Abbaye was born, and his mother died at child-birth, and he was raised by his uncle Rabbah bar Nachmeini. Rabbah did not want to call his nephew Nachmeini, which was the name of his father; he therefore called him "Abbaya," meaning, "my father." Others say that Abbaya stands for Asher Becha Yerucham Yasom.  Rashi, though, says that Abbaya was his real name, and his uncle called him Nachmeini.  According to Rashi, then, it could be said that Rabbah held that the adoptive parent has certain naming rights.
  • But who needs to speculate about Abbaya?  Moshe Rabbeinu was raised by Bisya bas Pharaoh (see link above to Megilla 13a,) and it was she that gave him the name by which we know him.  Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz says that the Torah identifies him by his Egyptian name davka to teach us about Hakaras Hatov.  True, in that case she didn't only adopt him, she saved him from death, while most adoptions are not matters of life or death.  But once you start splitting hairs in the sugya of Hakaras Hatov, you are going down a dangerous path.  Even when you help a person in need, the Tanchuma in Shemos by Moshe and Yisro says
 ״בשעה שאמר לי׳ הקב״ה למשה, ועתה לך אשלחך אל פרעה, אמר לי׳
משה, אדון העולם, איני יכול מפני שקבלני יתרו ופתח לי את פתח ביתו
ואני עמו כבן, ומי שהוא פותח פתח לחבירו נפשו הוא חייב לו . . . ולא
עוד, אלא כל הפותח לחבירו חייב בכבודו יותר מאביו ומאמו״
When Hashem told Moshe to go down to Pharoah, Moshe said "Master of the world, I can't, because Yisro received me and opened his house to me and I am like a son to him, and if a person opens his house to his fellow, he owes him his life....and furthermore, any person who opens his house to his fellow, he is obligated to honor him more than his own mother and father.
It seems to me that an adoptive parent is a perfect example of this Medrash--
פתח לי את פתח ביתו ואני עמו כבן....נפשו הוא חייב לו
He opened the door of his house to me, and I am like a son.....he owes him his life.
Come to think of it, it turns out that Moshe Rabbeinu was twice taken in and protected like a child- by Basya bas Pharaoh and by Yisro.  


Moving to another case where Chazal said "Ke'ilu," the Gemara in Menachos 110a says that one who studies the parsha of a korban "it is as if he sacrificed the korban."  Would the Taz say that if a person became obligated to bring a chatas for some inadvertent sin, and then he read and learned the parsha of korban chatas, and then the Beis Hamikdash was rebuilt, that he would not have to bring the Chatas?  And what if you were lazy, and while the Beis Hamikdash was standing you decided to stay home and read the parsha.  Are you pattur?  I would say that this, too, depends on the shittos of the Drisha and the Taz.

The Yad David in Menachos says this question is the subject of the machlokes between Reish Lakish and Rava there.  According to Reish Lakish, learning Torah accomplishes a similar atonement to that of bringing a Korban only during a time when there is no Beis ha'Mikdash and one cannot bring a real Korban. According to Rava, even when the Beis ha'Mikdash is standing, learning Torah atones exactly as if one had brought a Korban.

The Gan Raveh in Parshas Tzav brings the Binyan Ariel who says that when Hashem told Moshe, "Tzav Es Aharon v'Es Banav Leimor Zos Toras ha'Olah" it means that the Kohanim should make sure that they teach the people the rule that whenever they learn the laws of the Korban, it is as if they have offered an Olah, even though telling this to the people will surely decrease the number of Korbanos brought to the Beis ha'Mikdash.  Despite the resulting monetary loss to the Kohanim (who receive the hides of the korban Olah and much of the flesh of other korbanos), the Kohanim were enjoined to let people know about this halacha.

See a nice discussion of the din amira for a korban in the first piece in the Har Tzvi. who addresses the Beis Yosef that says that amira is mechaper "ktzas," and Reb Yishmael ben Elisha in Shabbos 12b (I will bring a chattas shmeinah, mashma that amira wouldn't patter him.)  Also,  I once saw a svara (from Reb Refoel Hamburger, and a similar but slightly different slant from Reb Chaim Ozer's cousin from Omaha, Reb Tzvi Hirsch Grodzinsky in his sefer Likutei Tzvi, about whom Reb Aharon Soloveichick said that the Brisker Rov said that he was considered the bigger lamden of the two,)  that amira doesn't work where there are other aspects of the korban that cannot be fulfilled through amira, such as "Kohanim ochlim ubaalim miskaprim."  Your amira does not make a kohen's achila.  Kind of like the Beis Halevi on Kol Rom.  Also, great unknown pointed out in a private communication that it would not work for a nazir, because amira does duplicate or parallel the Matan Behonos.  Eli in the comments sends us a link to a beautiful piece from the Cheshek Shlomo that deals with this.

A slight digression:  I had this in my journal, but forgot about it until Chaim B reminded me.
The Magen Avraham in Siman 1 says that you should stand when you say the parshas korban, because avoda is be’amidah.  Reb Chaim Kanievsky brings a Yalkut Shimoni in Yirmiah that says that a min asked someone, how can you believe the nevi’im when the navi says that the Kohanim and Leviim will do avodah forever, but you can't deny the reality that the churban stopped the avodah, and he was answered that amiras parsha by Kohanim and Leviim is like hakrava.  The pirush there, which happens to be written by the Magen Avraham, indeed says that when kohanim and leviim say parshas korban it is as if they brought it, which is apparently different from what he himself says in Shulchan Aruch!
    The Chofetz Chaim in his hakdama to his son in law’s Avodas Hakorbonos brings the same medrash and is docheh the raiya that it only applies to kohanim, and says that it is mamash like hakrava no matter who says it.  The son in law brings the same medrash and skips the words kohanim and leviim!  How do you like that!
    But there are also problems with the Yalkut itself.  First of all, this can’t be accepted as our derech, because then only kohanim should be saying the parshas hakorban, which is something weird that nobody has ever said in print.
    Second, R’ Matisyahu Solomon brings from the Chazon Yechezkel that the pshat in “neshalmah parim sfaseinu” is that we bring to ourselves the zchus of the korbanos that were brought at the time of the Beis Hamikdosh.  R’ Solomon connects this to the din of “pokeid avon avos ahl banim...v’oseh chesed l’ohavai...” which teaches that zchus avos comes to descendants that are “ocheiz b’ma’asei avosam.”  Here too, our saying the parshoh of korbanos brings us the zchus of our ancestors’ korbanos.  If we take this mehalach at face value, it is not like the shittah brought by the Magen Avraham that you have to stand during amiras parshas korbanos, and also it is not like the Yalkut that says that the amiras haparsha is like hakrovoh only when a kohen says it.
    However, we can be meyasheiv all these kashes.  There are two dinim: the zchus of amiras haparsha- or the zchus avos we create by saying the parshah- can be either the zchus of the ma’aseh hakrava or the zchus of having a korban brought on your behalf, the rei’ach nicho’ach aspect of the korban.  If you say that the zchus avos is the zchus of their ma’aseh hakravah, that just as they were makriv, it is as if we were makriv, (and not the zchus of the korban,) so this only is legitimate and helpful if the person is a kohen whose avodah is kosher.  But there is also a din that saying the parshah brings the zchus of the rei’ach nicho’ach of the korban, i.e., that it is as if a korban was brought for us, then even a Yisroel will benefit.  And there is no reason to think that one din is more mistavra than the other, and both dinim are true, so a kohen’s amira is as if he was makriv, and a yisroel’s amirah is as if he brought a korban and it was nikrav on his behalf.  (This question might revolve around the Gemara in Nazir and Kiddushin about Shluchi de'Rachmana or Shluchi didan.)
    This is meyasheiv all three kashes: the kashe on the Chofetz Chaim’s son in law (because the Yalkut that limits it to kohanim is the response to the min that said that avodah is boteil, and the proper response is that through the amirah of kohanim the avodah is eternal), the kashe that nobody limits amiras korbonos to kohanim (because although kohanim may have the additional aspect of the zchus of avodah, everyone has the zchus of the kiyum hamitzvah of bringing the korban), and the kashe on the Chazon Yechezkel from the Magen Avraham (because R’ Abramsky is talking about the zchus of the rei’ach nicho’ach, not the zchus of the avodah).   
Another interesting ramification of this discussion: The mitzva of Birkas Kohanim, according to Reb Yaakov Emden, is only de'oraysa when recited after the hakrava of a korban tzibur.  Therefore, he says, the duchening we do today is derabanan.  The Mishna Berura argues, but doesn't address the pasuk that is mashma like RYE.  So Reb Yakov Karliner answers in his Mishkenos Yaakov OC 66 that this is why we say "'ve'se'erav alecha asiroseinu ke'olah u'chi'korban" before duchenning- because our duchening is based on the parity between tefilla and korbanos.  Only because ve'se'erav can we duchen.  (His brother, the Keren Ora, says the same teretz in Maseches Sota in the sugya of birkas kohanim.)

I know about the Baal Hatanya in #37, and I don't want to put it in here, because it is not my mesora.  So please don't send me comments about his pshat in the Gemara in Menachos, thank you.

Next ke'ilu:  Shomeia Ke'oneh.
Rashi  in Sukkah 38b says that one who is in the middle of Shmoneh Esrei when the tzibbur is saying Kaddish or Kedushah should stop and listen quietly, thus answering through Shomeia Ke'oneh. Rabbeinu Tam and the Ri in Tosfos Brachos 21b ask on Rashi that if shomeia is really ke'oneh, then it should have a din hefsek.  (They say that Rashi is wrong ahl pi svara, but "gadol haminhag," so go ahead and do like Rashi anyway.)  Here, too, we see a machlokes as to the extent of Ke'.  (There are many other ways to answer Tosfos' kashe without saying that Rashi holds like the Drisha, though.  Example: The Tzlach in Psachim 56a holds that a whisper is not a hefsek, like in Baruch Shem in Krias Shma.  So even if Rashi holds like the Taz, the ke'oneh would not be worse than a whisper.)

This is getting too long.  Unless you or I can think of a really interesting machlokes about another ke'ilu, that will be it.  Nathan- thanks for mentioning Ke'ilu hu yatza mimitzrayim, but it doesn't say "yotzei," it says "yatza."

But considering that Shavuos is around the corner, here's one good thing to end with.  Kiddushin 30a.

״אמר ריב״ל כל המלמד את בן בנו תורה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו קבלה מהר סיני שנאמר והודעתם לבניך ולבני בניך וסמיך ליה יום אשר עמדת לפני ה׳ אלהיך בחורב


The following are the comments from the deleted version of this post, when it was titled "A Foster Parent is Like a Natural Parent."

Micha BergerMay 21, 2014 at 5:24 AM
Language quibble: Foster parenting is a short-time job, filling in for the parents while they or the family get help and is reunited. Adoption is a way to graft a child permanently into the family tree. Different things entirely.

As for my comment: lemaaseh my adopted children as well as those my wife gave birth to are simply "ben Mikhah Shemuel". (Foster children of course were not.) And that includes both Jews by birth and ones converted upon adoption. I also queue the gabbai to say "ve'es ishto ... ve'es kol benei veisam" rather than "kol yotzei chalatzeha".

WRT the latter, one step in conversion of a qatan is that the beis din appoints someone responsible for the child's education. So there is a place to acknowledge the adoption Jewishly during the conversion process, by having beis din formally appoint the parents at the child's beris. (Which we did not do; last time we adopted a non-Jewish child was 25 years ago. I hadn't thought of it yet.)

Eliezer EisenbergMay 21, 2014 at 6:08 AM
I should have realized that. I wish you had corrected me four years ago about foster/adoptive. The reason I chose foster was that it is shorter, and the term adoptive is an odd and distracting form of grammar. I'm going to have to change it and probably re-post it instead of just correcting it..

I just re-read your old comment, and again found it poignant that your adopted child's non-Jewish birth mother attended the bar mitzva.

You have married children. Did your mesader kiddushin know what to do with the kesuva?

Micha BergerMay 21, 2014 at 8:16 AM
None of the children I adopted are married. It's not that hard of an inyan that given the time between being asked to be mesader qiddushin and the night of the actual wedding they couldn't come to a pesaq. It's not like the question is going to come up last minute.

Side-note, nothing to do with your discussion: A foster parents needs to remember they are a "foster parent". Some of my saddest periods were when I built of dreams of eventually adopting a child who was then returned to his parents' custody. (E.g. Mitchel Steinberg / Travis Smigiel. Who would have pictured that a child whose sibling was beaten to death by their father wouldn't have been legally adopted and still had a mother with custody?)

Parents through adoption are just that -- parents. Thinking of oneself as an "adoptive parent", that the relationship is any more about chessed than any other parenting, or that adoption is more relevant than whether or not the child entered the family by c-section, isn't fair to the child. A child needs parents, not benefactors. And so, the really unwieldy but more accurate title would be "Parents are Parents, Whether by Birth Or Through Adoption".


From R Usher Weiss:

האם בן מאומץ חייב בכבוד הוריו המאמצים


למרות שאין עליו חיוב ומצווה מדין "כיבוד אב ואם" שהרי אינם הוריו האמתיים, מ"מ חייב הוא לכבדם משום שהם גידלו אותו.


בחינוך מצוה ל"ו כתב משרשי המצוות כיבוד אב ואס הוא שיכיר ויגמול חסד עם מי שעשה אתו טובה ולא יהיה נקל ומתנכר וכפוי טובה שזו מדה רעה ומאוסה בתכלית לפני אלוקים ואנשים וכו' ולפי"ז אף בנדון המאומץ כיון מאמציו הטיבו עמו באמוצו הרי שיש לו לכבדם כהוגן.

ובשדה חמד מערכת אבילות סי' קנ"ו מביא מהמדרש (שמות רבה ד') בשעה שאמר הקב"ה למשה לכה ואשלחך אל פרעה אמר רבש"ע איני יכול מפני שקבלני יתרו ופתח לי ביתו ואני עמו כבן ולא עוד אלא שכל הפותח לחבירו חייב בכבודו יותר מאביו ומאמו. ושם מביא עוד ראיה מהנביא אלישע שאחר שנלקח אליהו לא הלך לביתו לאביו ולאמו להחיותם כמו שהחיה את בן האכסניא שלו לדעת השדי חמד אין סתירה בין מדרש זה לבין הגמ' סוטה כי אמנם מצות כיבוד אב ואם איננה מצות עשה המוטל על המתגדל ואולם מדרך אנושית חייב לכבד את המגדל שכן הוא דרך העולם להכיר ולהוקיר בהערכה מי שקיבל ממנו טובה.

וכתב בשו"ת אגרות משה יו"ד ח"ב סי' ק"ל דבכלל ענין מצות כיבוד אב שלא יהיה כפוי טובה להוריו שהביאוהו לעולם הזה ולפיה מש"כ הר"מ שהגר נוהג באביו מקצת כבוד הוא כדי שלא ייחשב בעיני הבריות לכפוי טובה ומסתבר שענין זה שייך אף בבן מאומץ שלא יהיה כפוי טובה להם שמגדלים אותו ועי' בשו"ת שאילת יעקב ח"א פ"א שכתב שעיקר הכיבוד הוא משום שגידלוהו ולא מצד שילדותו עי"ש.

I realized a simple thing, so simple that it's embarrassing to have missed it until now.  Why would I need to prove that adoption is as real and deep as biological relations? Isn't every marriage chosen and not a product of a biological process? If you can understand the power of the relationship between husband and wife, it should be no harder to understand the power of the relationship between adoptive parents and children. 


  1. The Taz's view is quite strange when you look at all the pesukim that deal with the mitzva of peru u'revu. They all end off with something to the effect of increasing the population which would not be accomplished by megadel but only by molid.

    1. I'm going to have to edit the post again. The Taz, the first one in Hilchos Kvod Rabbo in YD 242, is talking about Kvod rabach kikvod shamayim. It's the Chochmas Shlomo that extrapolates to Ke'ilu yelado. And I disagree with your he'ara, because raising a child is like keeping him alive- like the story with Moshe Rabbeinu and Yisro. There's not much difference between bringing a child to the world and keeping him here.

  2. Hi Rav Eisenberg,

    My kasha was in reference to the Rashi in this weeks parasha - that teaching Torah to your friends son is keilu yaldu. I find that hard to understand according to the Taz and the context of all the pesukim.

    For the maamar chazal about raising an orphan, I hear that there might not necessarily be a huge difference between bringing a child into the world and keeping him there.

  3. Just realised that you had already raised this question in your original post.