Halacha for Monday 11 Kislev 5780 December 9 2019

The Laws of Rising Before One’s Father or Rabbi- Maran zt”l’s Response to his Grandson

All of the laws of honoring and revering one’s parents apply equally to both a son and daughter. When we sometimes focus on a father and son or a mother and daughter, this is meant as a mere example and illustration.

When one sees one’s parents passing in front of him, one must rise before them to his full height, meaning to bring himself to a complete standing position. The same applies when a rabbi passes before a person in that he must rise in a way that he will be able to see him.

The Gemara (Kiddushin 33b) states: “Rabbi Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yannai, a student may only rise for his rabbi (and according to some Poskim, the same applies to a son rising for his father) twice a day, once in the morning and once again in the evening, so that his honor is not greater than the honor of Heaven (for we recite Keri’at Shema in the morning and evening and if one rises for his father or rabbi more than twice a day, the rabbi’s honor is subsequently greater than the honor of Heaven).” This means that since we are “involved” with Hashem’s reverence only twice a day, the same would apply to the obligation to revere one’s parents in that one should only do so twice a day and no more. This is indeed the custom of the Ashkenazim who only rise for their rabbis twice a day. Some say this applies to rising for one’s parents as well.

Nevertheless, the custom of Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jews, in addition to several Ashkenazi authorities, is that a son or student is obligated to rise before his father or rabbi (respectively) even one-hundred times a day for there are those that disagree with Rabbi Yannai’s ruling; since the Torah equates the reverence one has for a rabbi with the reverence one has for Hashem, as our Sages taught, “May the reverence you have for your rabbi be like the reverence you have for Heaven,” one must rise for him even one-hundred times a day. This is indeed the opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch whose rulings we have accepted.

Based on what we have previously established that a father may absolve a son from revering him, it seems that if a father tells his son not to stand up for him every time he passes by besides for twice a day, the son may do so. We have also asked Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l regarding what our Sages taught that whenever one meets one’s rabbi, one must greet him by saying “Shalom unto you, my rabbi.” Rabbi Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a, author of the Halacha Yomit in Hebrew, asked if this was indeed the law every time he met Maran zt”l, who was his principle rabbi and teacher, or if it was sufficient just to say “Shalom (hello), grandfather.” Maran zt”l paused for several moments and thought about this and replied, “You are my grandson and you may address me however you like.” This means that since nowadays it has become customary to absolve children and students of honorary behaviors that were customary in previous generations, as long as the father or rabbi absolves the child or student from these things, the child or student is indeed absolved from this form of honor or reverence, as we have explained

A son must rise for his father or rabbi when he is called up to read the Torah. Although, halachically speaking, he need not stay standing for the entire duration of the father or rabbi’s Aliyah and rising before them on their way up to the Tevah is sufficient, nevertheless, the custom of Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jews is to remain standing for the entire duration of the Aliyah, out of respect for the father or the rabbi. Maran Ha’Chida writes that since this is our custom, it is now considered completely obligatory (to remain standing) since by not doing so, this is disrespectful towards one’s father because one is not treating him with the accepted etiquettes of respect and honor. This is also the opinion of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l. Thus, even if a father tells his son that he is not interested in the son standing for the duration of the reading of his Aliyah to the Torah, the son may not obey him, for it appears as though the son is disrespecting his father and even if a father permits his son to humiliate him, the son may still not do so.

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