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Thought for the Day: Muktzah and Whiny Children

The conversation I overheard on the train home last night is just too good not to share.  (Yes, I am still working on being not stupid... just too much ice and slush on the roads for safe biking; IMHO.)   One girl was complaining to her friend about how much work it is to plan a drive across country.  "I mean... I have to actually figure out when I'll get to Cleveland and then go look up the weather myself!  Why can't the app just figure out when I'll get there and look up the weather for me, and then give me driving directions to avoid the traffic and worst weather?!?"  I think what most impressed me what how indignant she was.

Siman 9+300 (I have no idea why the M'chaber decided to label the siman as tes-shin instead of shin-tes; he does that sometimes) discusses transporting muktza along with something else.  The first case is a child carrying a rock who will cry if his father doesn't hold him.  He will also cry if you make him drop the rock.  (Basically the teens above, except they will cry if there father is any where near and they have more expensive toys than a rock.  But the maturity is about the same.)  As long as there are not carrying issues (let's not open up the "chai nosein es atzmo" can of worms right now; k?), then the father is allowed to carry his child even though he will also be carrying the rock.  If the kid is holding a dollar bill, however, then the father may not carry him.  Why not?  We are afraid that if the little darling drops the dollar, the father will pick it up; the father has his own interest in that dollar.

Suppose, by the way, junior does drop the rock and starts howling (again!).  Even though the father is allowed to carry junior with the rock in his pudgy little fist, the father is still not permitted to move the rock himself; junior needs to be lowered to pick it up for himself.

Note that this is only permitted because the kid will throw a fit unless he gets to keep his rock and his father is carrying him.  You may be wondering why this isn't just a normal case of "tiltul min ha'tzad", which would permit carrying the child even if he wasn't so whiny.  Good question.  There are two basic approaches.  R' Moshe says that it is so common for little children to need both their toys and their parents, that this is the normal way to carry a rock.  The Chazon Ish has a slightly different approach: since the father really (really) wants the child to have his rock (so he won't start screaming again), then one cannot call the rock "tafel"/subordinate to the child.

Some things don't change.  Whiny children is one of them.  On the other hand, the Mishna Brura notes that of course we are talking about a child that has not yet reached the age of chinuch.  So either the whiny kids on the train were much younger than they looked, or the age of chinuch is much higher than it used to be.


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