Halacha for Wednesday 30 Sivan 5779 July 3 2019

The Land of Israel and Honoring One’s Parents

Question: If one resides in Israel and one’s parents reside outside of Israel and the parents request that the individual come to live with them in their country of residence (outside of Israel), is one obligated to listen to one’s parents because of the commandment to honor one’s parents?

Answer: Our Sages relate an incident in the Midrash Sifri that once, Rabbi Yehuda ben Betera, Rabbi Matya ben Charash, Rabbi Chanina ben Achi, and Rabbi Yehoshua were travelling from Israel to abroad and when they arrived at the furthermost border of the Land of Israel, they raised their eyes heavenwards, cried, tore their clothing, and exclaimed the verse, “And you shall inherit it and dwell in it” as well as the verse that follows, “And you shall observe to do all of the statutes and laws” in order to teach us that the Mitzvah of dwelling in the Land of Israel is equivalent to all of the other Mitzvot. At this point, they turned around and returned to their respective places.

The Ramban writes in his Sefer Ha’Mitzvot that the Mitzvah to dwell in the Land of Israel is a positive Torah commandment even nowadays. The Rashbetz and most other Poskim rule likewise.

The Maharam of Rottenberg rules in one of his responses that one should not listen to a parent who commands one not to move to Israel, as our Sages expound (Yevamot 5b) the verse “Every man shall fear his mother and father and keep my Shabbat, I am Hashem” to mean that you are all obligated in my honor. This means that the reason why the phrase “I am Hashem” appears after the commandment to fear one’s parents is in order to teach us that everyone is obligated in Hashem’s honor. Thus, if one’s father commands one to do something that is contrary to any Mitzvah, one may not heed one’s father, for the honor of Hashem always comes first. The Poskim agree that even if one’s father commands one to transgress even a rabbinic enactment, one should not listen to one’s father, for Hashem’s honor precedes one’s father’s regarding any matter, for one’s father is likewise commanded to heed the edicts of our Sages. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah, Section 240) rules likewise.

Hagaon Mabit (Rabbeinu Moshe bar Yosef Tarani, one of the greatest Sephardic Acharonim; contemporary and friend of Maran Ha’Bet Yosef and served as a rabbinical judge on Maran’s Bet Din) ruled on a similar matter where one swore to move to Israel and then his father demanded that he annul this vow and not move that the individual was prohibited from annulling the vow and was required to fulfill the vow by moving to Israel thereby disobeying his father, for living in Israel is a great Mitzvah even nowadays. He adds that this individual bears no sin for not fulfilling the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents, for his parents can move to Israel with him where he will be able to honor them there.

Based on the above we can understand that it is certainly forbidden to move away from Israel in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents. Nevertheless, this is a situation where this is permissible which is when the son wishes to leave Israel for a short visit with his parents who reside outside of Israel in order to honor them and be happy with them; this is permissible because this is not considered nullifying the Mitzvah of dwelling in the Land of Israel since this is only temporary, similar to what the Rashbetz writes that one may leave Israel only in order to study Torah and fulfill the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents. The Poskim explain his ruling to mean that one may certainly not leave Israel permanently in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents; rather, when wishes to leave on temporarily in order to visit one’s parents and then to immediately return to Israel, this is permissible. However, there is no room whatsoever to allow permanently leaving Israel in order to honor one’s parents.

Summary: One who lives in Israel should not leave Israel in order to live close by to one’s parents. Nevertheless, it is permissible to leave Israel for a short visit with one’s parents in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents.

We must, nonetheless, point out that this issue is a very delicate one that sometimes needs the guidance of a prominent halachic authority based on the specific case, such as when such a decision will cause strife and disunity among the various family members or when this may cause others to stray from the path of Torah and Mitzvot, such as when the individual residing in Israel is the spiritual pillar of the entire family as far as Torah observance. In such cases there may be room for leniency to allow him to leave Israel for the greater good of the above issues.

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