|The Problem of Yichud In Adoption
Published: Sunday, November 29, 2015 03:39:32 PM
Number of views: 2053
One of my students asked my advice about adopting a baby girl. His question has inspired me to write this article.
Halacha has very strict regulations restricting physical contact between members of the opposite sex. Halacha rules that a man and a woman not married to each other are not to be secluded in a room. It also prohibits an unmarried couple from engaging in any physical contact. Of course, these laws do not apply to immediate family members, such as one's parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse and children.
However, a problem arises in the case of adopted children. Since such children are not the biological offspring of their adoptive parents, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, like most other contemporary Gedolim, concluded that once a girl becomes Bat Mitzva/the age of 12, and a boy Bar Mitzvah/the age of 13, all Halachot of separation of the opposite sex apply.
This Halacha is most notable in the prohibition of being alone in a room, and the prohibition of physical contact with the opposite sex. For example, a woman would be prohibited from hugging and kissing her adopted son once he turns 13. Also, a man would be forbidden to be alone in a room with his adopted daughter once she turns 12, nor would he be able to hug or kiss her. Thus, the Lubavitcher Rebbe discouraged adoption.
Rabbi Saul Berman, a close disciple of Rav Soloveitchik, was discussing the issue of adoption in Halacha with the Rav. Rav Soloveitchik, contrary to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ruled that the functional parent/child relationship, was sufficient to eliminate all the problems of Yichud and of Negiah (physical contact), despite the absence of a biological relationship between the adoptive parents and child. Rabbi Berman noted the contrary position of the Lubavitcher Rebbe against Yichud even with adopted children.
The Rav asked Rabbi Berman what he thinks the Lubavitcher Rebbe does when there is a couple in his community whom the Rebbe himself believes ought to adopt children. Rabbi Berman relates that the Rav smiled and said, "Then the Rebbe sends them to me to give the Halachic okay to adopt children, without being concerned about Yichud".
This is what the Talmud in Eruvin 13 means, that when Spiritual Halachic Giants disagree, a Heavenly Voice proclaims, "These and those are both the words of the living G-d".