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

Producing Sound and Whistling on Shabbat

The Gemara in Masechet Eruvin (104a) tells us that our Sages banned producing sound on Shabbat and Yom Tov, for instance, by playing a musical instrument, for they were concerned that while the tune is being played, the player will come to fix the instrument. This decree would certainly apply eve......

Read Halacha

Clapping and Drumming on a Table on Shabbat and Yom Tov

The Gemara in Masechet Beitzah (30a) states that one may not drum, clap, or dance on Shabbat lest one come to fix a musical instrument (ibid. 36b). This means that just as we have discussed in the previous Halachot that our Sages have decreed that one may not play musical instruments on Shabbat ......

Read Halacha

Toys Which Produce Sound and those Which Operate Using a Spring or Coil

Question: Is it permissible for one to allow one’s young children to play with toys which produce sound, such as a doll which makes noise when shaken, on Shabbat? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed the prohibition of producing sound on Shabbat, such as by banging on a board, ......

Read Halacha


Praying in Pajamas

Question: Can one pray while wearing pajamas? Answer: Approximately one week ago, we have discussed that, before praying, one must prepare a fitting place, proper attire, and cleanse one’s body and thoughts, as the verse in the book of Amos states, “Prepare yourself before your G-d, I......

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