Halacha for Tuesday 23 Shevat 5779 January 29 2019

How Parents Should Treat Their Children

Not Being Overly Strict With One’s Children
The Rambam writes: “Although one must revere his parents exceedingly and honor them, nevertheless, one may not over-burden one’s children and be overly particular with one’s honor so that he does not bring them to sin; rather, one should be forgiving and disregard one’s own honor since a father who absolves his son from honoring him, the son is indeed absolved from doing so.” The Tur and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rule likewise.

A Father who Absolves a Son from Humiliating Him
These words of the Rambam that “if a father absolves his son from honoring him, the son is indeed absolved from doing so,” are taken from the Gemara in Masechet Kiddushin (32a) which states, “Rabbi Yitzchak bar Shila said in the name of Rav Matna who said in the name of Rav Chasda, ‘If a father absolves his son from honoring him, the son is indeed absolved from doing so,’” which means that if a father would like to forego being honored by his son, he may. However, a father may not absolve a son from humiliating him, for instance, if a father permits his son to curse him and the like, for one who curses a parent is liable to death by stoning and the father does not have the authority to permit such a thing.

Similarly, a father may not permit his son to call him by his first name as some people have begun doing in our times, for calling one’s father by name is considered “humiliation” which would cause any intelligent person to cringe and a father cannot absolve his son of acting in such a manner.

The Prohibition to Strike One’s Older Children
Our Sages tell us in Masechet Mo’ed Katan (17a): “One who strikes one’s adult son is liable for excommunication, for he has transgressed the prohibition of ‘You shall not place a stumbling-block in front of a blind man.’” This is because human nature is that when one receives blows, one tends to retaliate. Thus, if an adult child is hit by his father or mother, he is quite liable to transgress the grave prohibition of hitting them back. Therefore, one should be very careful not to strike children when this is likely to cause them to transgress a prohibition of either hitting him back or cursing him, depending on the nature of the child.

The above does not apply to striking a child which was a common form of punishment in earlier generations; rather, one should take care not to over-burden one’s children with other forms of punishment or discipline as well. Sometimes, even a young child of seven or eight may lash out against his parents when the parents punish him in an excessive manner.

One Whose Parents Serve Him Food and Drink
Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l was asked: If one goes to visit one’s parents and the parents serve him refreshments such as coffee, cake, and the like; is one allowed to accept this from his parents, for one’s wishes represents one’s honor or perhaps one should not to accept this? After delving in the words of the Poskim, Maran zt”l replied that the son may accept what his parents serve him after requesting their forgiveness for causing them to trouble themselves for him. However, if one’s father is a Torah scholar, one should refuse to accept the refreshments from him until the father implores him to take it in order to show that it is difficult for him to accept the fact that his father has troubled himself for him. Only after the father has implored him to accept it may the son do so, while offering apologies and words of appeasement.

A Torah Scholar’s Honor is Absolved
Just as a father is able to absolve his son from honoring him, so too, if a Torah scholar absolves others from honoring him, they too are absolved from doing so. However, if a king absolves his subjects from honoring him, they are not absolved from doing so.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Affixing a Mezuzah to One’s Porch

Question: Where should one affix the Mezuzah to the doorpost of one’s porch: On the right of the entrance from the house to the porch or on the right of the entrance from the porch to the house? Answer: The Gemara (Yoma 11b) states that our Sages derived from the verse “On the doorpos......

Read Halacha

Kissing the Mezuzah and Wearing a Mezuzah for Protection

Question: May one place a Mezuzah on a necklace and wear it around one’s neck as an amulet? Similarly, is it proper to kiss the Mezuzah and Sefer Torah? Answer: The Mitzvah of Mezuzah has a special property in that in its merit, Hashem protects the doorways of the houses of the Jewish natio......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Mezuzah

There is a positive Torah commandment to write the two paragraphs of “Shema Yisrael” and “Ve’Haya Im Shamo’a” on parchment and affix this parchment on the doorpost of one’s home, as the verse states, “And you shall write them on the doorposts of your h......

Read Halacha

The Proper Time to Affix One’s Mezuzot

Question: We are moving into a brand new house which we just purchased in approximately one month and we have already affixed the Mezuzot. Was it correct to do so? Answer: The obligation of the Mitzvah of Mezuzah rests upon one who resides in the house. However, if one has a completely empty hous......

Read Halacha


Opening a Faucet and Soaking Seeds in Water on Shabbat

Soaking Seeds on Shabbat We have been asked regarding people who have a pet parrot at home and they must soak different kinds of seeds in order to feed them to the parrot. Is this permissible on Shabbat or not? At first glance, it would seem that this should be prohibited based on what the Ramba......

Read Halacha

Personal Modesty

The Gemara (Yoma 47a) states: “Our Sages taught: Kimchit had seven sons, all of whom served as Kohanim Gedolim (High Priests). The Sages asked her, ‘What have you done to merit this?’ She replied, ‘The beams of my house have never seen the braids of my hair.’” Ras......

Read Halacha

Placing Flowers in a Vase on Shabbat

Question: Is one permitted to place a bouquet of flowers into a vase filled with water on Shabbat or is this forbidden? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that one of the forbidden works on Shabbat is planting. We have also quoted the Gemara which states that water trees or seeds o......

Read Halacha

The Forbidden Work of Planting on Shabbat

The Torah (Shemot 20) states: “Remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it. Six days you shall work and perform all of your labor and the seventh day shall be a Shabbat for Hashem, your G-d etc. For in six days Hashem created the Heavens and the earth and on He rested on the seventh day. Thus, ......

Read Halacha