Halacha for Thursday 30 Cheshvan 5780 November 28 2019

The Honor of One’s Step-Mother Versus One’s Biological Mother
Our Sages (Ketubot 103a) derive from the seemingly extra words “Et” in the verse regarding honoring one’s parents (“Kabed Et Avicha Ve’et Imecha”) that the Torah means to include the honor of one’s step-father and step-mother. This means that if one’s father passes on and one’s mother marries another man, one must honor this man. Similarly, if one’s mother passes away and one’s father marries another woman, one must honor that woman. The above law applies if one’s parents divorce as well.

When One’s Mother Insists One Not Honor the Step-Mother
Let us now discuss a question that unfortunately arises somewhat often. If one’s parents divorce and one’s father remarries another woman, sometimes one’s mother will instruct him not to honor one’s father’s wife at all by either greeting her, visiting her, and certainly not taking care of her needs. In this scenario, whose honor takes precedence: one’s biological mother or one’s step-mother?

The Honor of One’s Mother vs. that of One’s Step-Mother
Let us give an example of where the above question can have another serious implication as a result of this clash. For instance, if one’s mother and one’s step-mother each ask one to help them go shopping at the same time. Whose honor take’s precedence? Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l discusses this issue (in his Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 11, Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 20) and rules that clearly, the honor of one’s biological mother takes precedence over that of one’s step-mother, for one is obligated to honor one’s mother forever while one is only obligated to honor one’s step-mother during her lifetime.

When One’s Biological Mother Forbids One to Honor His Step-Mother
Regarding the aforementioned question, Maran zt”l writes that if one’s mother instructs one not to honor his step-mother, this is tantamount to one’s mother commanding one to transgress Torah law. For instance, if one’s mother commands one to desecrate Shabbat, one may certainly not obey, as our Sages teach us in several places (among them Baba Metzia 32a). Since one is obligated to honor one’s step-mother, although the honor of one’s biological mother takes precedence over that of the step-mother since one is obligated to honor her forever, the mother can nevertheless not prevent her son from performing any Mitzvah, including that of honoring one’s step-mother.

Summary: In general, the honor of one’s biological takes precedence over that of one’s step-mother. Nevertheless, if one’s mother instructs him not to honor one’s step-mother, one need not obey her since she does not have the authority to tell her son to transgress Torah law. On the other hand, Maran zt”l writes that the son should behave with sensitivity so as not to cause his mother unnecessary pain and use judgment to be able to show honor to everyone.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

Havdala on Motza’ei Shabbat Which Coincides with Tisha Be’av and the Laws of an Ill Individual Who Must Eat on Tisha Be’av

On years during which Tisha Be’av falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, such as this year, 5782, there are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding how Havdala should be recited on a cup of wine on Motza’ei Shabbat. The first opinion is that of the Geonim who write that one should r......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"- The Year 5782

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. Nevertheless, the Sephardic custom is not as string......

Read Halacha


Those Who are Obligated and Exempt from the Fast of Tisha Be’av and their Status When Tisha Be’av Falls Out on Motza’ei Shabbat

Someone Ill with a Non-Life-Threatening Illness, An Elderly Person, and a Woman who has Recently Given Birth One who is ill (meaning when one is actually bedridden and the like, even if the illness is not life-threatening) is exempt from fasting on Tisha Be’av. When in doubt about one’s......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

This coming Friday will mark Rosh Chodesh Av. Next Shabbat will mark Tisha Be’av, however, since fast days are prohibited on Shabbat (besides for Yom Kippur), Tisha Be’av will be observed next Motza’ei Shabbat and Sunday. May Hashem soon switch this month to one of joy and celebrat......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Last Meal Before the Fast of Tisha Be’av on Shabbat

On Erev Tisha Be’av, our Sages prohibited eating meat and drinking wine during the last meal before the onset of the fast of Tisha Be’av held after halachic midday. They likewise forbade eating two cooked foods during this meal.  Nevertheless, this year, 5782, since the fast of T......

Read Halacha

Tisha Be’av Which Coincides With Motza’ei Shabbat- Clothing for Tisha Be’av

The Baraita in Masechet Ta’anit (30a) states that our Sages prohibited five things on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s self with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages said (Ta’anit 30b): “One......

Read Halacha