Son Who Ate Treif


I recently read that if a young child eats non-kosher food, even unknowingly, it can affect their spiritual development.
We have a son who is 12 years old now. And he is already ‘off the derech.’ He has no interest in Judaism, no matter how hard we try to persuade him. He was expelled from two Jewish day schools that considered him a troublemaker. We now send him to a secular private school where he excels in secular subjects, but gets even more non-Jewish influence. We are not happy, but it is the only option we have because legally he has to go somewhere. We also tried homeschooling him and hiring a private rebbe, but that didn’t work. He has no desire to have a bar mitzvah. We hired a tutor, but he misbehaved so much, the tutor didn’t want to work with him. We are really frustrated and we get little sympathy in our community. Many people seem to think it is our moral failure as parents.
He does not observe Shabbat. He spends time on Saturday using his electronic devices and getting rides from parents of non-Jewish friends. It is impossible to control him. We are very busy trying to raise all our other children with Torah values and can’t restrain him from this.
When he was in preschool, we had him spend time with a relative who told us they were observant and kept strictly kosher. After that, we found out they were far from observant and they deceived us and gave him treif. We were so infuriated that we cut most of our ties to that relative. Our son does not remember the time he spent there. He was very young then.
Do you think that could be the cause of his disinterest in Judaism?



  1. My heart breaks on reading and rereading your letter. Not only because of the anguish that you are going through on watching your son do as he does, but also for the way that people within your community are relating to you and your son. Please accept my personal Bracha that your son will return to his Father in Heaven, very, very soon, and that he will grow to become a source of immeasurable Yiddish Nachas to you and your entire family.

    Yes, it is absolutely a possibility. The negative repercussions of eating non-Kosher are so insidious that the Rama rules, Yoreh Deah 81:7, that a Jewish baby should not nurse from a gentile wet-nurse because the spiritual impurities from the non-kosher food the wet-nurse eats are transmitted to her milk. The impurities are so potent that they cause what is called “Timtum haLev – an unreceptive heart.” The Chasam Sofer goes as far as writing, Parshas Kedoshim, that the majority of heresy found within the Jewish nation is caused by eating non-kosher food.

    Is it possible to say that that his being fed non-Kosher food when he was younger is the reason why your son has chosen to behave as he does? It is certainly possible. But I do not think that anyone can say that it is the reason with any degree of certainty.

    Best wishes from the Team