|Insights from the Institute
Shailos From The Institute Of Halacha
Kashrus Kurrents is proud to launch a new column, “Insights from the Institute”. In this regular feature, HaRav Frankel will share with our readership intriguing shailos from his E-mail bag. The following is a sampling of the types of interesting questions that will be addressed in future columns.
Q: Can I make a birthday cake in the shape of the sun? It would be a round cake with cookie sticks around it to represent the sun’s rays.
A: The Torah1 states, “You shall not make with Me, gods of silver and gods of gold you shall not make for yourselves.”2 As Rashi3 tells us, the first phrase is understood to mean - you shall not make images of that which is with Me – i.e. images of heavenly bodies. For this reason, it is forbidden to make a model of the sun or moon or the stars, even if the image will not be used for idol worship.4 Similarly, a two dimensional drawing of these objects would be prohibited5.
The Shach,6 however, limits the prohibition to ‘complete drawings’.7 Therefore, one could draw a partial picture of the sun, although it is debatable as to whether a picture of the crescent of the moon is considered a partial picture or a whole picture.8 Furthermore, a picture of the sun would be problematic only if it were to be a good representation of the sun.9; Therefore, Rav Moshe Feinstein writes concerning a child’s drawing of the sun that it is an issue only if the child’s drawing is a good likeness to the sun, which is most often not the case.10
It would seem that a cake baked in the shape of the sun would not be a better likeness than a child’s drawing and would, therefore, be permitted. This was confirmed by Rav Heinemann, who told me that the Star-K clearly feels this way since it displays a picture of a star on every product it certifies.11
Q: I am a dentist, and my father needs extensive dental work. If I do the work myself then it would save him a substantial amount of money, but the procedure will make him bleed. Am I allowed to do this?
A: In general, it is forbidden to hit or wound any Jew even if it does not cause that person to bleed,12 and certainly it is forbidden to cause bleeding.13 However, the Torah permits medical work to be done even if the doctor will cause the patient to bleed.14 Besides this general prohibition, there is another special prohibition against a person hitting his or her parent,15but this applies only when the child causes the parent to bleed.16 Even if the child is a doctor, when treating his parent one should not cause bleeding by amputating a limb or even removing a splinter, unless there is no one else present to do it and the parent is in pain.17
A similar question was posed to Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky in 1944. A parent needed daily injections, and the child inquired as to whether he could perform this service himself with his parent’s permission, thereby sparing the expense of hiring a nurse. Rabbi Tukachinsky, in turn, posed this question to three of the great rabbonim of Yerushalayim at that time, each of whom provided a response.21 The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Herzog, argued in favor of the ruling of the Minchas Chinuch, that this could be allowed. Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank was hesitant to be lenient, and felt that one should not allow this. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, whom Rabbi Tukachinsky described as ‘a rising star’22 (due to his young age), wrote that in a situation where there are other possible reasons to rule leniently, one can certainly add to them the opinion of the Minchas Chinuch and allow the child to administer the injections.23
Rabbi Tukachinsky presented another reason to rule leniently in this case. He argued that if the child does not give the injections, it would be necessary to pay someone else to do so. Although there is a mitzvah to honor one’s parents, a child is not legally obligated to pay for such an expense. Therefore, from the child’s perspective it is as though there is no one else available to administer the injections, and the child can do so. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach cites that the Sefer Yafeh Le’Lev24 agrees with this logic and, therefore, states that in conjunction with the argument of the Minchas Chinuch there is reason to be lenient.
With these facts in mind, we can now address the issue of a child performing dental work on his or her father. According to the Minchas Chinuch, if a parent gives a child permission to carry out the above noted service, the child may do so even though it will cause the parent to bleed. Among recent poskim, Rav Breisch in the Teshuvos Chelkas Yaakov25 seems to feel that one can be lenient and rely on the ruling of the Minchas Chinuch.26 This is also the opinion of Rav Heinemann, who rules that one may permit a child to perform dental work on his or her parent, if the parent gives consent due to financial considerations, and the child wishes to comply.
1. שמות כ,כ