Chof Beis Sivan, 5774
A wealthy man passed away, leaving his immense fortune to his young son. The child was extremely limited in his mental and social abilities, and the doctors recommended that he be sent to an institution where he would achieve significant growth. However, the only food available to him there would be non-kosher food. Were the child's relatives allowed to send the boy to such an institution?
The rabbi of the city, Rabbi Hirsh Openheim, relayed the question to Rabbi Moshe Sofer, famously known as the Chassam Sofer. The Chassam Sofer replied that if the child could halachically be defined as a shoteh-a mentally deranged individual who is exempt from performing mitzvos-it would be permitted to send him to the institution. Although the gemara deduces from a passuk that it is prohibited for an adult to feed non-kosher food to a child or shoteh (see Yevamos 114a), it would be permitted in this scenario, as doing so would enable him to eventually reach a level of mental awareness that would enable him to perform mitzvos. Halachah allows for the temporary waiving of this prohibition in order to reach this long-term benefit.
However, to define the child as a shoteh is not that simple. A shoteh is characterized as one who exhibits bizarre conduct, such as ripping his clothing or sleeping in the cemetery (see Chagigah 3b). In this case, however, the child wasn't displaying idiotic behavior; he was merely cognitively inhibited. Sending him to an institution would thus not have the advantage of enabling him to fulfill mitzvos, as he would be obligated in them regardless; it would just enable him to properly function and deal with others. This by itself would not warrant the transgression of feeding a child non-kosher food.
In this situation, however, the relatives would not be feeding him the food themselves; they would merely be transferring him to the care of the institution, without actually instructing them to feed him non-kosher food. The Chassam Sofer therefore concluded that halachically, it was permitted to send the child to the institution. However, he would need to be removed upon reaching the age of thirteen, because he himself would then be forbidden to consume such food.
However, concluded the Chassam Sofer, he would not recommend them to send the boy to the institution at all. It is known that non-kosher food taints the heart and produces negative character traits. Said the Chassam Sofer, "It is better he remain mentally delayed all his life than to be a rasha for one moment before Hashem!"
(Based on Shu"t Chasam Sofer, Orach Chaim §83)