We are continuing in siman 29, where the Chayei Adam discusses a child causing possible or definite bleeding to their parents. The Chayei Adam gives the examples of removing a splinter (which may cause possible bleeding) or an amputation (which will certainly cause bleeding). To clarify, this halacha is a machlokes Shulchan Aruch and Rema. The Rema holds it is muttar, and that is the psak followed by the Chayei Adam and is the minhag Ashkenazim. The Shulchan Aruch holds that it is only muttar in a scenario of pikuach nefesh when no one else is available. Interestingly enough, the Rema’s psak is based on the Rambam, and the Shulchan Aruch is based on the Rosh and Rif.
Regarding the minhag Ashkenazim to be matir the child to perform the procedure when no one is available, we learned that since it is for the purposes of refuah, it is technically not considered striking a parent at all, and is technically muttar even when another qualified individual is available. However, since there is an element of the idea that the child is striking their parent when they perform the procedure, one should refrain from it if another qualified individual is available.
Extending this halacha further, we need to discuss a case where there is another qualified individual available, but the child will perform the procedure for free, while the other individual will charge. This question comes up regarding surgeries and dental work, among other medical procedures. The Nishmas Avraham quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztl who writes it is muttar for the child to do the procedure in such a case. However, he qualifies that it is only muttar when there is a medical necessity for the procedure. If the surgery is cosmetic, such as plastic surgery (which is a question in and of itself) or cosmetic dental work, if the parent is disfigured and the surgery will restore the parent’s normal appearance, it is muttar. If it is just to look nicer, it is assur for the child to perform the procedure.
Any process in which it is not a psik reisha (inevidable) that the procedure will cause bleeding, it can be argued that even according to the Rif and Rosh it is muttar. Thus, for example, the child could perform acupuncture or physical therapy for their parents.
If the procedure does not cause an open wound but causes a bruise, which indicates internal bleeding, the Yerushalmi discusses the question but does not give a final psak. Rav Shlomo Zalman ztl appears to allow it, and one may rely on his psak.
The Rema, in Orach Chaim siman 343, discusses a child who struck their parent when they were young and caused them to bleed. He writes that although a child is not chayav to do teshuva for that which they have done as a child, because they were not cognizant of their actions, it is appropriate for the child to take upon themselves something as a kapparah. The Rema is discussing where the child caused the parent to bleed; if they just hit the parent, they do not need this kapparah.
- If a child strikes a parent in a manner which causes them to bleed, they are chayav misah. If they do not cause bleeding, they are chayav malkus.
- If the child needs to strike the parent for a valid purpose, such as a medical procedure, the child should not perform the procedure if someone else is available.
- If no one else is available, the minhag Ashkenazim is that the child may perform the procedure, providing the father is mochel the son striking him.
- The minhag Sephardim is to only allow the child to perform the procedure if it is pikuach nefesh.
- If another qualified individual is available, but the child will perform the procedure for free, it is muttar for the child to perform the procedure in a case of medical necessity.
- Regarding a cosmetic surgery, if the parent is disfigured, it is muttar. If it is to make the parent look more beautiful, it is assur.
- If it is not a psik reisha that the procedure will cause bleeding, even the minhag Sephardim would permit the child to perform the procedure.
- If the procedure will only cause internal bleeding (i.e., bruising), it is muttar for the child to perform the procedure.
- A child who struck their parents when they were young and caused them to bleed should take something extra upon themselves as a kapparah.