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Kashrus in my Parents’ Home

Question:

Dear Rabbi,

I am a 17 year old girl who attends a modern orthodox high school. I know my parents don’t keep the highest level of kashrus, ex water from meat dishes touch dairy, when a piece of warm chicken was on a dairy plate my mother refused to throw it out, a non-Jew makes our dinners and my mother does not keep shabbos which seems to undo the rest. My mother is totally unresponsive but my father said we can kasher the pots and utensils, but you cannot kasher ceramic so there is still the issue of the plates that my mother refuses to throw out. And my father said we can tovel everything that needs to be but and that I can turn the stovetop a little while dinner is cooking, and turn the oven on and off when things are being cooked in the oven. I could not bring myself to tell my mother that I don’t feel comfortable eating in her home because she does not keep shabbos because I didn’t want to embarrass her. And she was threatening to not let me go to seminary in Israel next year if I keep this up. After that I will go to college but how will I ever feel comfortable with bringing my friends and future husband into this home? At first I was trying to discreetly eat only packaged foods and on plastic and paper cutlery and things that I believed have not touched anything traif ex. A grilled cheese maker. But I do not know what to do and I don’t want to ask any of the rabbis in my community because I don’t want to embarrass my parents and I don’t want to ask the rabbis in my school because I don’t want to embarrass myself. Although I did talk to a rabbi in my school who I never had but my father said he is not an acceptable authority because he was in his 20s and he told me to eat on paper and plastic. I also forgot to add that I have seen meat spoons in the dairy dishwasher which my parents said they were okay because they are 1/60?? I am very distressed about this and I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to break kibbud av v’em.

Hoping for a response,

Answer:

Hello,

Prior to responding to your actual question, I need to express my deep respect for you, and for your inner strength to do what is correct and according to halacha, even though it is very difficult for you. This is acting truly heroic.

You are in a very tricky situation, and you will need guidance how to navigate yourself, as on one hand you have the halacha, but on the other you have the kibud av v’em. As a general piece of advice, which will serve you very well for now and in the future. When a child, takes a different lifestyle in life than her parents, it is hurtful to them, and insulting, since you are showing them that you disagree with the way they are acting, which is insulting to them. On the other hand you are entitled, and have a spiritual obligation to live the way Hashem wants you to live. So here are a few pointers.

First of all, you have to respect your parents, both your father and mother, show them that you love them, and even more important show them that you respect them. For who they are, and for the positive factors that they have. For example, the fact that your father is responsive to your halachic needs, that is very commendable, and positive, and you should show him your respect for that. Even for your mother, show her that you care for her, and that you respect her as a person. Make sure to thank her for the things that she does for you, and also make sure to give her personal compliments, (I don’t know your mother so I can’t suggest anything, but everyone has certain positive points, and you should make sure to let her know that you notice them and respect her for it.) Don’t do all of this in one day, as they will think that you flipped… or that someone told you to do it… but slowly show them your respect. For example, be helpful, and cheerful. If you see that you parent needs something, get it for them. If they ask you to do something, do it right away. They will notice all of this, and it will change their attitude towards you, and your wanting to keep halacha. They will see, that by your being more religious, that they didn’t lose a daughter, rather they got a better one… and this might even subtly encourage them to come along with you in keeping halacha on a higher standard.

Secondly, try to minimize the points for contention to a minimum. For example, in your mother’s eyes it is not fair to ask of her to throw out her plates, so you will have to work around it. If you father allows you to tovel what need tevila, do so, but express your appreciation, to him for being so helpful and understanding. Regarding the actual halachic questions that come up, right now you are in a difficult situation, and we can employ certain leniencies that you would rely on in your own home, but for now this is what you will be able to rely on. Understandably, you will need to seek advice, and coaching and if you want, you can reach out to us whenever you like.

Regarding your friends and your future husband, if you explain things to your friends, and your husband, that your parents are great people, and that you respect them. but that they aren’t as religious a you are. By you showing your respect for your parents, your friends and your future husband will also respect them, and although at first it will be somewhat uncomfortable, you’ll be alright.

What your father told you regarding turning the fire on and off while the non-Jew is cooking is a good idea, and it takes a second.

Hashem should help you that in the merit of your mesirat nefesh to do what is correct, that you should merit to build a true Torah home, and merit having much nachas from all of your children.

Best wishes

 

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1 Comment

  1. Wow! It’s so inspiring to hear of this young woman who is so close to Hashem in both Bein Adam LaMakom (that she wants to keep the Mitzvos) but also Bein Adam Lachaveiro that she doesn’t want to hurt her parents! Amazing!

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