Halacha for Sunday 4 Tammuz 5779 July 7 2019

A Woman Whose Parents Request Her Assistance

Question: A twenty-seven-year-old single woman takes care of her aging and infirm parents, especially her father, on her own and by her parents’ request. Is she required to dedicate herself to the welfare of her parents for the rest of her life or may she look for a suitable marriage match in order to build her own home and her parents will have to find a different solution?

Answer: Responsa Torah Lishmah (widely-attributed to Rabbeinu Yosef Haim zt”l, the saintly Ben Ish Hai) Chapter 266 records a question regarding whether or not a young woman who was instructed by her father not to get married and she wishes to get married and have children must heed her father’s command. The Torah Lishmah rules that since women are not halachically obligated to bear children and it would therefore be permissible to remain single and not get married, she must heed her father’s command and not get married since honoring one’s parents is a positive Torah commandment.

Thus, according to the Torah Lishmah, since honoring one’s parents is a positive Torah commandment while getting married and bearing children is not a full-fledged Torah commandment (for women), the above woman would be obligated to continue caring for her parents although this would come at the expense of building her own Jewish home.

Nevertheless, the opinion of the Torah Lishmah is truly perplexing, for the Gemara (Sanhedrin 76a) that one who causes one’s daughter not to get married is acting wickedly in a deceptive fashion since one gains from this financially as she will stay home and perform housework for him, saving him the cost of domestic help.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (in his Halichot Olam, Volume 8, page 138) writes lengthily to challenge this ruling of the Torah Lishmah and he even quotes the words of the Tosafot (Gittin 41b) who state that even a woman is commanded to get married and bear children. He quotes many great Rishonim who concur. Indeed, Rabbeinu Moshe Elashkar (in his responsa, Chapter 72) rules that a Sefer Torah may be sold in order to marry off poor orphans and there is no distinction whether they are boys or girls.

Furthermore, even if we claim that a woman is not obligated to get married and bear children, there is no doubt that the Mitzvah of establishing a Jewish home takes precedence over the Mitzvah to honor her father who acts cruelly by forbidding her from pursuing a normal life through getting married and building a family. She may therefore leave her parents’ home and the father should find some other arrangement.

The Sefer Chassidim (Chapter 660) recounts an incident regarding a certain Torah scholar whose children passed away in his lifetime and he was left all alone. He told his students at the time of his death, “I know I have no other sin other than that I had a younger sister who was a widow and I knew that she wished to get remarried, however, she was too ashamed to ask me to marry her off. I had the ability to marry her off, however, I did not do so because I wanted to retain control of her money and assets. It is for this reason that I was punished and all my children died.” Regarding our case, Maran zt”l adds that instead of the father trying to marry off his daughter with a dowry and fine clothing, he commands her not to get married; this is a terrible sin and he will be punished accordingly, for such great suffering cannot be forgiven.

 

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Glassware and Pyrex Regarding the Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have written that according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, glassware does not absorb any flavor from foods placed in it and thus, there is no prohibition to use a glass vessel for meat and then after it is washed well, to use it for dairy (although the Rama does rule st......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils?

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils? Answer: We have already established in the previous Halacha that one is obligated to designate two separate sets of dishes and flatware for dairy and meat, for dishes used with either......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Similar Types of Fruit

In the previous Halacha, we have established that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges, which are not so readily available throughout the year. When one merits eating from these fruits the first time during the year and the fruits......

Read Halacha


Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Grafted Fruits

Question: May one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing the first time during the year one eats citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges? Answer: We must first preface this discussion with the law that when one eats a new fruit that one has not yet partaken of that year, after recit......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Milk and Meat Dishes and the Laws of Giving Putrid Taste

When one cooks meat in a pot, the walls of the pot absorb some of the food cooked in it and is therefore considered “meat”. If dairy is later cooked in the same pot, the pot will release some of the meat flavor contained in its walls into the dairy food and will therefore prohibit the en......

Read Halacha

The Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures

The Torah states three separate times (Shemot 23 and 34; Devarim 14): “You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” Our Sages (Chullin 114a) expounded that each of the times this prohibition is mentioned comes to teach us another law: The first time it is mentioned teaches us ab......

Read Halacha

The “Three Weeks”

The three-week period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av is dubbed by our Sages “Between the Straits,” based on the verse (Eicha 1, 3), “All of her enemies overtook her between the straits.” Our Sages tell us that these three weeks between the Seventeenth o......

Read Halacha