Halacha for Monday 4 Kislev 5780 December 2 2019

The Laws of Honoring and Revering One’s Parents

As was mentioned in the previous Halacha, the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents includes two different aspects: honoring one’s parents and revering one’s parents. Indeed, the Torah states, “Honor your father and mother” and “Each man shall fear his mother and father.”

What does revering entail? One should not stand in one’s father’s designated place for prayer or sit in his designated seat at home (for instance, at the head of the table). Additionally, one should not contradict one’s father’s words by saying, “Father, what you have said is incorrect” or approve of his words by saying, “My father’s words seem correct.” (This shall be explained further.)

Some say that one may not sit in one’s father’s designated seat even when the father is not home. Others say that this is only a problem when this is done in the father’s presence, for only then is it a display of audacity and a lack of respect by the child sitting in his father’s place. However, if the father is not home, one may sit in his place.

Halachically speaking, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that according to the letter of the law, a child may indeed sit in his father’s designated place if the father is not present. Nevertheless, we must add that in places such like ours where sitting in one’s father’s designated seat is considered disrespectful toward one’s father and his honor, for instance, due to the fact that he has a special chair and the like, according to all opinions one may not be lenient in this matter, for disrespect to one’s father is prohibited in any situation.

To what extent must one revere one’s parents? Even if one was wearing expensive clothing and sitting among important and influential people and his parents arrived, tore his clothing, hit him on the head, and spit at him, one may not humiliate them by exclaiming, “What have you done to me?,” and the like; rather, one must remain silent and fear Hashem, King of all kings, who has commanded one to do so. (This law is derived from the incident recorded by the Gemara, which we have mentioned in the previous Halacha, about how once,  Dama ben Netina was bedecked with golden garments and was sitting among honorary Roman noblemen; his mother came, tore his clothing, whacked him on the head, spit in his face, and yet, he did not humiliate her).

What does honoring entail? One must feed his parents, give them to drink, dress them, cover them, and the like. All this should be done with a smiling and radiant countenance, for even if one were to feed one’s parents stuffed ducklings every day while bearing a scowling expression, one will be punished for this. Indeed, cheer and a radiant countenance is an integral part of the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents

To what extent must one honor one’s parents? Even if a parent takes a wallet full of gold coins belonging to the child and throws it into the sea in front of the child, the child should not humiliate them, distress them, or become angry at them; rather, he should accept this Heavenly decree and remain silent. Some say that if the child has the ability to prevent the parent from throwing the wallet into the sea, he may in fact exercise it. In any event, he may summon the parent to a Bet Din after the fact, for one is not obligated to lose money due to the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents.

In coming Halachot we shall, G-d willing, explain the differences between honoring and revering one’s parents.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

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 “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 Fragrant Objects

Question: Should one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a fragrant object which renews itself yearly? Answer: The root of this question is based on what we rule that regarding any fruit which renews itself yearly, such as berries and pomegranates, before partaking of that fruit for......

Read Halacha


Measuring for the Purpose of a Mitzvah

In the previous Halacha we have mentioned that our Sages have prohibited any kind of measuring on Shabbat or Yom Tov. For instance, one may not weigh various foods items or beverages on Shabbat. Although the scale is mechanical and not electronic, this is likewise a rabbinic prohibition. Measurin......

Read Halacha

Walking on Grass and Climbing a Tree on Shabbat

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one of the works forbidden on Shabbat is reaping. Included in this prohibition is detaching anything that grows from the ground, whether with regards to wheat and barley or anything else which grows from the earth. The Prohibition to Climb a Tree on ......

Read Halacha

Measuring on Shabbat and Yom Tov

Question: On Yom Tov when cooking is permissible, may one use a mechanical scale (not an electronic one) to weigh the ingredients one needs for cooking? Answer: Our Sages prohibited measuring on Shabbat or Yom Tov, for this is considered a “mundane act”, i.e. an action performed speci......

Read Halacha

Question: May one set an alarm clock to go off on Shabbat?

Answer: It would seem to be prohibited to set an alarm clock to go off on Shabbat based on the Baraita (Shabbat 18a) which states, “One may not place wheat into a water-operated mill (before Shabbat) in order for the wheat to be ground on Shabbat.” Although no forbidden work is being per......

Read Halacha