Q & A

About Family

Can a parent be mochel (relinquish) the honor that is due to them?

What does it mean that one may not contradict a parent?

  • If my father makes a mistake am I not permitted to correct him?
  • There is much discussion in poskim as to the parameters of this halacha.
  • The Prisha (YD 240:3) writes that it is only forbidden to contradict a parent if one does
    not have proof.
  • You should not argue with your father just because you feel that he is wrong.
  • But if there is definite proof that a mistake was made in religious matters, then one is
    obligated to point this out.
  • The Gemara has many examples of Tana’im & Amora’im who disagreed with the rulings
    of their fathers because they had proofs to the contrary.
  • Pischei Teshuva (YD 240:1) writes that if a father & son are studying Torah together,
    the son may argue with his father even without a proof, since this is the method of delving
    into Torah.
  • The Be’er Sheva (Sanhedrin 110a) writes that it is permissible to disagree with a parent,
    but it must be done in a respectful manner.
  • Not contradicting a parent means, one should not say, “Father, you are wrong.”
  • Rather, one must always speak to a parent in a respectful manner.

I did not show proper honor to my parents. Must I ask them forgiveness?

  • One who transgresses a mitzva “bein adam l'chaveiro" (between man & his fellow man)
    must ask forgiveness both from Hashem, for not heeding His commandment & from the
    friend that was wronged.
  • For a mitzvah “bein adam la'Makov" between man & Hashem), one need only ask
    forgiveness from Hashem.
  • The Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvah 33) is uncertain if honoring a parent is a mitzvah
    (bein adam l' chaveiro)
  • On the one hand, a mitzvah of "bein adam l' chaveiro) generally applies equally to all
    people & perhaps the extra honor that is due to a parent is a mitzvah "bein ada la Makom"obligation to the parent.
  • The Minchas Chinuch above leaves the question unanswered.
  • Elsewhere (Mitzvah 364), the Minchas Chinuch writes that honoring parents falls

    under the category of mitzvos(bein adam l' chaveiro).
  •  In practice, if one did not show proper respect, one must ask forgiveness from their
    parents (Yalkut Yosef, Kibud Av V’aim1:12).

My father asks me to pass the plate of cookies, but I know that his doctor instructed him to watch his sugar.
if I don’t listen to my father, he becomes angry,
& says I am being disobedient.
Must I listen to my father even though I know it is bad for him?

  • Sefer Chasidim (234) writes that even if a parent orders a child to bring food which
    endangers the parent & swears that they will otherwise never forgive the child, the child
    may still not bring their parents something which might endanger them.
  • The Mahari Malcho (cited by the Birkei Yosef YD 240:15) deduces from the wording
    of the Sefer Chasidim that only if the food presents a potentially life-threatening danger
    must the child not listen.
  • However, if the food does not present a life-threatening danger, even though it is harmful
    for the parent, the child must listen.
  • However, Yad Shaul (240:11) understood that the intent of the Sefer Chasidim was to
    forbid serving any food that is harmful to the parent.
  • Sefer Kol Gadol (54) also agrees that the child should not listen in any case of harm.
  • He explains that the child is not violating kibud av since the intent of the child is not to
    disobey his father, but rather concern for his father’s well-being.

Is there a mitzvah to honor step-parents?

  • There is a Torah obligation to honor a step-mother or a step-father so long as one’s
    father or mother is still alive.
  • Once the parent passes away, there is no further obligation to honor the step-parent.
  • However, the Gemara (Kesubos 103a) relates that Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi instructed
    his children before his passing to continue to show honor to their step-mother & this is
    the accepted practice of all G-d fearing individuals even though it is not a formal
    obligation (Aruch Hashulchan YD 240:43).
  • The Birkei Yosef (YD 240:16) writes that one is obligated to show honor to their step-
    mother even if their birth mother objects.
  • Honoring their step-mother is a means of honoring their father & the birth mother’s
    objections do not remove this obligation.
  • However, Halachos Ketanos (1:28) writes that if there is a question of who should be
    honored first (e.g one’s mother & step-mother both ask for a drink of water), one is
    obligated to honor one’s mother first.
  • Though they are both Torah obligations, the honor that is due to a parent is greater
    than that due to a step-parent.






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