Halacha for Sunday 26 Sivan 5781 June 6 2021

One Whose Father Forbids him to Speak to a Certain Individual

The Rosh writes the following in one of his responses (Section 15, Chapter 5): “If one’s father has commanded him not to speak to a certain individual due to a disagreement and the like and now that the father has passed on, the son would like to make amends with that person yet he is weary of his father’s will, the son need not worry about his father’s will since if one’s father commands him to transgress Torah law, the son may not heed his father in such a situation and indeed the Gemara in Masechet Pesachim (113b) tells us that one may not hate a Jew unless he sees him transgressing a sin intentionally. This father has thus commanded his son to transgress Torah law and the son may not listen to his father in this kind of circumstance.” The Tur and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rule accordingly.

Based on the above words of the Rosh, such behavior of not speaking to any given Jewish person is included in the prohibition of hating a fellow Jew in one's heart and is certainly in contrast to all of the values the Torah sets forth which is to treat every Jew with respect and dignity, as the verse states, “And you shall love your fellow as yourself.” We were to realize the value of every Jew and his/her precious soul, we would surely treat every Jew with respect, love, and camaraderie. Thus, if a father commands his son not to speak to a specific person, one should not listen to one’s father regarding this matter.

Similarly, if one’s father or mother gets into a dispute with one of their siblings in a manner which is incorrect according to Torah law and instruct their children not to sit Shiva for them together with their siblings (the childrens’ aunts and uncles) and instead sit separately, the children should consult a respected halachic authority before making such a decision, for such things border on many fundamental Torah laws including not shaming any Jew and treating every Jew with dignity and respect.

What we have written about above applies to Mitzvot between man and his fellow. However, the same applies to Mitzvot between man and Hashem as well. Thus, if one’s father commands one to desecrate the Shabbat, one may not heed his words, for the Torah states, “Every man shall revere his mother and father and observe my Sabbaths,” to  teach us that even of one’s father commands him to desecrate the Shabbat, one may not abide since the father is  also obligated to honor Hashem and listen to His commandments.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l would use a parable to illustrate this point (we believe it was in the name of the Maggid of Dubno): Once, before his passing, a man called his three sons to give them three unique gifts. To one son he gave an apple and told him that anyone who smells this apple will be healed of any ailment. To his second son he bequeathed a mirror and told him that he would be able to look into it and see any place he wished in the entire world. To the third son he bequeathed a carpet by which the son would be able to fly anywhere he wanted in the entire world.

One day, the son who received the mirror was sitting as he looked into it toward the city of Paris, France, where he saw that there was a commotion in the courtyard of the king’s palace and many people gathered around. He peeked a little closer using his mirror and he overheard and saw that the king’s daughter had fallen gravely ill and no doctors could find a cure for her illness. The king proclaimed that anyone who found a cure for his daughter would be handsomely rewarded.

The son who received the mirror immediately ran over to his brother and told him the story regarding the princess of France. He told him, “Let us go heal her using the apple you received from our father.” The brother replied, “Indeed, but how will we travel all the way to France?” The other brother replied, “We can ask our third brother who received the flying carpet to fly us all over to France right away and heal the princess.” Indeed, they quickly flew on the carpet and arrived in Paris where they dressed up as doctors and arrived at the palace where they told the king that they were doctors who had arrived from a faraway land to heal his daughter. The brother with the apple was ushered into the princess’s room where he placed the apple close to her nose as he pretended to be carrying out all sorts of medical tests and administering medications. Slowly, the princess began to feel better and after several days of smelling the magical apple, she was completely healed and returned to excellent health. Every morning she would smell the apple in the hands of the brother and she would be infused with health.

The king summoned the owner of the apple and told him, “You have fulfilled my wish of healing my only daughter. I see that you are wise, of superior character, and an expert doctor and I am proud to offer you my daughter’s hand in marriage.”

The brother who owned the apple told the king, “Your highness, please give me a few days to think about this proposal.” The king agreed. In the meantime, the owner of the apple went to consult with his other two brothers and they immediately started arguing among themselves and each one claimed that they were worthy of marrying the princess, for without him, she would not be healed. Eventually, they decided to pose this issue before the king and he would decide what to do.

All three brothers came before the king and told him the entire story. The king replied, “Let us consult with the princess and ask her to decide.” The princess was summoned and told the whole story. The princess replied wisely, “To you, the brother who originally looked in the magical mirror, I indeed owe you my life and I am eternally grateful to you and the same goes for you, the second brother who owns the flying carpet. However, I wish to marry the owner of the apple nonetheless, for in spite of the boundless respect that I have for both of you, I no longer need your services. So take your rewards from the vaults of the king and be on your way. On the other hand, I need the owner of the apple for the rest of my life to keep me healthy and strong until the end of my days.”

The message is self-understood: There are three partners in the formation of man: The father, mother, and Hashem. With all of the honor that one must have for one’s parents who have brought one to this world, in essence, one no longer needs them in order to survive in this world. Thus, if they command the child to transgress one of Hashem’s commandments, one can reply, “From now on, since I have already received life from you and I no longer need for my continued existence, both physically and spiritually; thus, I shall no longer listen to you if you command me to go against Hashem, King of the Universe, for He alone holds the keys to life and death.”

This is a fitting place to mention the outstanding character of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l who, in spite of his incredible genius and knowledge in Torah, he would speak to the masses in a simple manner so that everyone would be able to appreciate his lectures. Even complex ideas would be broken down into simple and interesting parables so as to endear the holy Torah to every member of the Jewish nation. May his merit protect the entire Jewish nation he loved so dearly, Amen.

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