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Laws governing a Jewish father’s relationship with his non-Jewish daughter

18.07.16

Question

Rabbi, thank G-d I became religious over a year ago and I belong to the national-religious community. I try to keep more commandments and laws from day to day and in the meantime, everything is going great and I feel closer to G-d more than ever. Unfortunately, in my secular past, I lived with a non-Jewish woman who was a rather religious Christian for several years and we had a daughter. Following a dispute, we parted, the girl stayed with her and I gradually became more interested in Judaism until I became religious. I found a Jewish woman and I married her, and G-d willing we will soon have children and establish a Jewish family. But because I am the father of a girl who is now 14 years old, I meet her often even though I know that according to Jewish law, she is not my daughter because she is not Jewish, and therefore I unfortunately have not yet fulfilled the commandment of procreation. I wanted to ask you, rabbi, my questions about the child:

1. When I meet with my daughter, she instinctively wants to give me a kiss and a hug, and I also hug and kiss her back. But recently a number of people remarked to me that this might be a problem and I may not be allowed to touch her because she is not Jewish. Is this the case? Do I have to restrain from touching her or am I allowed to hug and kiss her because I know in my soul that she is still my daughter? It will be very hard for me to refuse to embrace my daughter because I still feel that she is part of me and she really loves me and I love her very much and I do not think I can hold back from touching her.

2. My daughter sometimes brings me cookies that she bakes at home and I'm sure that the oven in their house is non-kosher even if the ingredients of cookies are kosher. There is also a problem of food cooked without Jewish supervision. I often avoid eating the cookies that she offers me, claiming I am not hungry, but sometimes she insists and begs me to taste them (she probably does not have the slightest idea of the laws of kashrut) and I find it hard to keep refusing her and unwillingly eat the cookies. In your opinion, what can I do? I am very afraid that she will be hurt if I tell her that I can not eat her cookies.

3. When we meet, my daughter is very interested about everything that occurred in my life in the past year since I started to become religious, and is quite astonished to see her father looking different with a beard, wearing a kippa, blessing over food, etc., And because she is not used to it, she often is worried that I may leave her and cut off contact with her, G-d forbid. What do you think is the best way to explain the spiritual process I have been going through?

4. All this makes me wonder what should be our general attitude towards the nations of the world? We know that man is beloved because he was created in G-d’s image and we have to respect every human being no matter who he is, but to what degree are we allowed to form friendships with non-Jews?

5. I'll take advantage of the fact that I am writing these other questions and ask you a question on a slightly different matter: My wife wears a head-covering since we got married, but now she says it's not comfortable for her and she wants to go with a wig. Could I hear what you think about wearing a wig and if it is forbidden, why is that? Thank you and have a good week.

Answer

1. The law permits it.

2.3. I'm sure that if you explain to her that you merited to find the truth in Judaism and decided to become religious and do G-d’s will, and therefore you have a problem and you can not eat the cookies, she will understand and not be angry.

Explain to her that you do not intend to and you don’t have to sever the connection between you and her, and even though you're Jewish and she’s not, that will not stop your relationship.

It’s proper for you to try to interest her in Judaism and the Torah, and maybe she will convert. You may try to convert her although generally we do not try to convince non-Jews to convert.

4. You should not form very friendly ties with non-Jews but this has nothing to do with your close connection with your daughter.

5. If you are Ashkenazi Jews, your wife must do a nullification of vows or you should do it for her and then she can start wearing a wig.

If you are from a Oriental Jewish community, you should consider it only if there is a concern, G-d forbid, that your wife may completely stop covering her hair.

 

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