I am familiar with the opinion of the Ran (Nedarim 40) that it is permissible to pray for a person’s death where an individual is terminally ill in chronic pain and extending his/her life only serves to prolong suffering (aside: I am speaking only of praying – taking overt action to hasten death is tantamount to murder). Nonetheless, I found this Yerushalmi in Shabbos 87b disturbing. The gemara tells of R’ Ada bar Ahava, who had a child born with an arla kevusha, which requires doing hatafas dam bris – blood must be drawn even if there is no foreskin to cut for a bris milah. According to one version of the story cited by the gemara R’ Ada tried to perform the mitzvah and his son died at his hands – a tragic accident. The gemara continues with a different version of the story, which troubles me. In this second version R’ Ada rendered his son a petzu’a daka, making him unfit to marry or have relations. R’ Ada fasted and prayed that his son should die, and his prayer was answered.
I would have thought that there is a difference between a chronic physical condition of pain that cannot be alleviated except through a peaceful death, and a prospective condition that 1) does not yet exist and 2) portends emotional and social stigma but not direct physical pain. R’ Ada’s child had a future as a capable functioning member of society, albeit unable to marry or have children, yet R' Ada thought it better to pray that such a child die rather than grow up with this (major) stigma and burden. Of course I am not in a position to second guess Chazal, but I feel I must be misunderstanding something because the implications of this statement bother me. Any ideas?