Halacha for Thursday 18 Iyar 5782 May 19 2022

Kissing One’s Parents’ Hands on Shabbat Night- The Students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Question: Should one kiss the hands of one’s parents and receive a blessing from them on Shabbat night and does the same apply equally to one’s father and mother?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah (17a) tells us that when Ulah (a sage who lived during the Talmudic era) would return from the Bet Midrash, he would kiss his father’s hands. Rashi there explains that it was customary among people that when one left the synagogue, one would kiss the top of the hands of one’s parents and those greater than him. The holy Zohar (Parashat Lech-Lecha) states that Rabbi Elazar son of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, as well as all other students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, would kiss his hands. Similarly, the great Ari z”l would customarily visit his righteous mother’s home every Shabbat night, kiss her hands, and she would subsequently bless him. Clearly, Rabbeinu Ha’Ari discovered a reason for this according to the Kabbalah that there is a great benefit in kissing one’s mother’s hands and receiving a blessing from her, especially on Shabbat night.

In his Sefer Sha’ar Ha’Kavanot, he explains the reason for this according to the Kabbalah; the Mekubalim stress the importance of this matter and write that one should kiss the hands of one’s parents on Shabbat night, especially one’s mother’s hands. Even if one does not reside with them in the same house, nevertheless, if it is possible for one to visit them and request their blessing, it is proper to do so. Rabbeinu Ha’Ari indeed taught this to this to his disciple, Rabbeinu Chaim Vital. Similarly, Maran Ha’Chida writes in his Moreh Be’Etzba that when one kisses the hands of one’s parents, one should have in mind to fulfill the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents and when one kisses the hands of one’s mother, one should also have in mind that there is a mystical reason for doing so.

We have heard that when Hagaon Harav Ben Zion Abba Shaul zt”l lived in the Tel Arza neighborhood of Jerusalem, he would make the long walk every Shabbat night to his mother’s home next to the President’s residence in order to kiss her hand and receive her blessing.

There are varying customs as to when is the proper time to receive one’s parents blessing: Some do this after reciting “Shalom Alechem” prior to reciting Kiddush while others customarily do so after Kiddush is recited. Our custom is to kiss one’s parents’ hands (if one is in the same house as one’s parents) after Kiddush is recited, after tasting some wine. At this point, the parents bless their children with whatever they desire. Following this, Netilat Yadayim prior to the Shabbat meal is performed.

Ashkenazim customarily do not implement all of these honorary measures as they are not at all accustomed to hand-kissing, although it is indeed an ancient custom. Similarly, they do not kiss the hands of their sages; rather, they suffice with a handshake and a blessing. Nonetheless, even according to their custom, parents should take care to bless their children every Shabbat night, as Hagaon Harav Yaakov Emdin attests in his Siddur that this is indeed the Ashkenazi custom. However, Sephardic Jews customarily kiss their parents’ hands, and they should not neglect this custom, for it has deep and important roots. Rabbeinu Eliyahu de Vidas (a student of Rabbeinu Moshe Cordovero), the saintly author of Reshit Chochma (Sha’ar Gidul Banim), has already warned that all parents should train their children when they are young to kiss the hands of their parents as well as the hands of great and pious individuals. (See Sefer Shulchan HaMa’arechet, page 56, who quotes the words of several Acharonim regarding this matter.)

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Taking Haircuts and Shaving During the Omer Period

Abstaining from Taking Haircuts During the Omer It has become customary among the Jewish nation to refrain from taking haircuts during the Omer counting period: According to the Ashkenazi custom, until the 33rd day of the Omer and according to the Sephardic custom, until the morning of the 34th day......

Read Halacha

Praying Barefoot

Question: May one pray while wearing sandals or while one is barefoot? Answer: When one prays, one must prepare one’s environment, clothing, body, and thoughts accordingly, for one will be standing before the King of all kings. Respectable Garments While Praying The Gemara (Shabbat 9b) ......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Kissing One’s Parents’ Hands on Shabbat Night- The Students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Question: Should one kiss the hands of one’s parents and receive a blessing from them on Shabbat night and does the same apply equally to one’s father and mother? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah (17a) tells us that when Ulah (a sage who lived during the Talmudic era) would......

Read Halacha


Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing Upon Performing a Mitzvah for the First Time

Question: The custom in our community is that when a young woman reaches the age of Bat Mitzvah, she performs the Mitzvah of separating Challah for the first time and before doing so, she recites the blessing of “Shehecheyanu” as well upon performing this Mitzvah for the first time. Is t......

Read Halacha

Taking a Haircut of the Night of the 34th Day of the Omer This Year (5782)

Tomorrow night and Thursday will mark Lag Ba’Omer (the 33rd day of the Omer) and Friday will be the 34th day of the Omer. Until When Are Haircuts Forbidden? We have already discussed that one may not take a haircut or shave during the period of the counting of the Omer in addition to sever......

Read Halacha

The Pesach Seder-Kadesh

The famous order of the Seder of the eve of Pesach, Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rochtza, Motzi, Matzah, Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech, Tzafun, Barech, Hallel, Nirtzah, was established by the leader of the entire Jewish nation, Rashi. The entire Jewish nation customarily follows this ord......

Read Halacha

Using Holy Names

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 1, Mishnah 13) states: “He (Hillel) would say: Whoever does not add shall be gathered, whoever does not learn is worthy of death and whoever uses the crown shall pass.” Rabbeinu Ovadia of Bartenura explains the phrase “And whoever uses the cr......

Read Halacha