Halacha for Monday 4 Kislev 5780 December 2 2019

The Laws of Honoring and Revering One’s Parents

As was mentioned in the previous Halacha, the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents includes two different aspects: honoring one’s parents and revering one’s parents. Indeed, the Torah states, “Honor your father and mother” and “Each man shall fear his mother and father.”

What does revering entail? One should not stand in one’s father’s designated place for prayer or sit in his designated seat at home (for instance, at the head of the table). Additionally, one should not contradict one’s father’s words by saying, “Father, what you have said is incorrect” or approve of his words by saying, “My father’s words seem correct.” (This shall be explained further.)

Some say that one may not sit in one’s father’s designated seat even when the father is not home. Others say that this is only a problem when this is done in the father’s presence, for only then is it a display of audacity and a lack of respect by the child sitting in his father’s place. However, if the father is not home, one may sit in his place.

Halachically speaking, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that according to the letter of the law, a child may indeed sit in his father’s designated place if the father is not present. Nevertheless, we must add that in places such like ours where sitting in one’s father’s designated seat is considered disrespectful toward one’s father and his honor, for instance, due to the fact that he has a special chair and the like, according to all opinions one may not be lenient in this matter, for disrespect to one’s father is prohibited in any situation.

To what extent must one revere one’s parents? Even if one was wearing expensive clothing and sitting among important and influential people and his parents arrived, tore his clothing, hit him on the head, and spit at him, one may not humiliate them by exclaiming, “What have you done to me?,” and the like; rather, one must remain silent and fear Hashem, King of all kings, who has commanded one to do so. (This law is derived from the incident recorded by the Gemara, which we have mentioned in the previous Halacha, about how once,  Dama ben Netina was bedecked with golden garments and was sitting among honorary Roman noblemen; his mother came, tore his clothing, whacked him on the head, spit in his face, and yet, he did not humiliate her).

What does honoring entail? One must feed his parents, give them to drink, dress them, cover them, and the like. All this should be done with a smiling and radiant countenance, for even if one were to feed one’s parents stuffed ducklings every day while bearing a scowling expression, one will be punished for this. Indeed, cheer and a radiant countenance is an integral part of the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents

To what extent must one honor one’s parents? Even if a parent takes a wallet full of gold coins belonging to the child and throws it into the sea in front of the child, the child should not humiliate them, distress them, or become angry at them; rather, he should accept this Heavenly decree and remain silent. Some say that if the child has the ability to prevent the parent from throwing the wallet into the sea, he may in fact exercise it. In any event, he may summon the parent to a Bet Din after the fact, for one is not obligated to lose money due to the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents.

In coming Halachot we shall, G-d willing, explain the differences between honoring and revering one’s parents.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Lighting the Chanukah Candles

The Mitzvah of Lighting Chanukah Candles There is a Mitzvah to light Chanukah candles throughout all eight nights of Chanukah (beginning from next Thursday night). The Sephardic custom is to light one set of Chanukah candles per house. The Ashkenazi custom, however, is that every member of the hous......

Read Halacha

Melaveh Malka

Question: Is one obligated to eat bread on Motza’ei Shabbat for the fourth Shabbat meal which is also referred to as “Melaveh Malka” (meal escorting out the Shabbat Queen)? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Shabbat (119b) tells us that one should always set one’s table nicely......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Women Regarding the “Melaveh Malka” Meal

In the previous Halacha we have explained that one should put forth an effort to eat The fourth Shabbat meal, which is also known as the “Melaveh Malka” meal, which is held on Motza’ei Shabbat to escort out the Shabbat Queen and to retain blessing for the rest of the meals of the w......

Read Halacha

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha


Moving an Electric Blanket or Fan on Shabbat

Question: May one use an electric blanket (heating pad) on Shabbat or is it prohibited to be moved due to the prohibition of Muktzeh? Similarly, may one turn a fan to another direction on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halachot we have discussed several laws of Muktzeh on Shabbat which are obje......

Read Halacha

A Tool Used for Work Prohibited on Shabbat

In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the basic laws of Muktzeh on Shabbat which is that there are certain objects our Sages prohibited moving on Shabbat. Utensils or tools which are used for types of work that are permitted on Shabbat may be moved for any purpose. Thus, one may move forks, kn......

Read Halacha

“Muktzeh Due to Monetary Loss”

In the previous Halachot, we have discussed several laws regarding Muktzeh which are certain objects that our Sages prohibited moving on Shabbat. As of yet, we have discussed three types of Muktzeh: “Utensils used for work permitted on Shabbat”, such as forks, knives, and the like, wh......

Read Halacha

Moving Books and Newspapers on Shabbat

Question: Is one permitted to move or read medical books or phonebooks on Shabbat? What is the law regarding reading newspapers on Shabbat? The Opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch Regarding Reading Books on Mundane and Forbidden Topics Answer: Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 307, S......

Read Halacha