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It's A Boy     Issue #: 096

  Its a Boy!     Mrs. Greenfield hired Doula Fried, to assist her in delivering her n ...


Its a Boy!



Mrs. Greenfield hired Doula Fried, to assist her in delivering her newborn. Early, Tuesday morning, Mrs. Greenfield sensed that the awaited time was imminently approaching. In general though, Mrs. Greenfield upheld a history of elongated ordeals.

In contact throughout the morning with Duola Fried; she was assured that history was repeating itself and time was on her side. The thought of hours of work simply tired her out. ...when suddenly her room was filled with the delightful charm of promising life. Doula Fried missed the birth!

Is Mrs. Greenfield required to pay Duola Fried?

What is the Law?

The Answer

Unless Duola Fried has a specific policy, Mrs. Greenfield is exempt from paying Fried (see detailed explanation).


Detailed Explanation




Mrs. Greenfield hired Duola Fried to perform a service. Although Duolas often provide guidance to their clients far before rendering the actual service, Duolas generally charge only for aiding the delivery. In Mrs. Greenfield's case, Duola Fried did not even begin providing her "chargeable" services nor did she begin traveling to the "work site". Secondly, there is a calculated risk in the field, that the Duola may well miss the birth.




It's a Boy implicates the following four laws.

1. An employer who irresponsibly cancels the post after a laborer either turned down alternative work (and can no longer find replacement work) or else, began working or traveling to the job site (even if he/she did not turn down alternative employment) is required to compensate the laborer for the wages he/she expected to earn [Choshen Mishpat 333: 2; 334:1].

2. An employee who prefers to earn reduced wages and remain idle, rather than work hard and earn more, can only claim that "reduced fair" from the employer [Choshen Mishpat 333: 2; 334:1].  

3. When new circumstances render the job unnecessary, an employer is absolved from compensating a laborer for services not received, if the laborer could have responsibly foreseen  such occurrences [Choshen Mishpat 334: 1].

4. An employer who must cancel the post due to unexpected circumstances need not pay for services not received (though must reimburse him/her for expenditures invested by the employee en route to the work site) [Nesivos Hamishpat 333:5].  


Doula Fried did not invest expenditures, begin traveling, or begin rendering services. Most of all, Doula could have foreseen the eventuality of missing the birth. Mrs. Greenfield is absolved from paying her for her services unless there is a predetermined protocol for such eventualities.


The Baffled Teacher     Issue #: 093

The Baffled Teacher.pdf (1.28 mb) The Baffled Teacher   Experienta Docet! (Experience teac ...

The Baffled Teacher.pdf (1.28 mb)

The Baffled Teacher


Experienta Docet! (Experience teaches! )

As the eagerly awaited Passover season was rapidly arriving, students and teachers alike, seemed to have been counting down the hours towards liberation. The finale of the wait was topped with a virtual mini-course in janitorial skills, as the student body and teachers staff avidly cleaned through their cubbies, lockers, and desks.

Going through her desk drawers, Mrs. Linda Gold, the highly acclaimed A-Track sixth grade boys Latin roots teacher was confronted with confiscated symbolisms of her annus mirabulis (wonderful year) .

A ping pong racket, a water blaster, a car magazine, a heavy duty flashlight, a megaphone, a GPS, a hardball, some darts, a blackberry, some rather dangerous vestiges of the beginnings of an armamentarium (arsenal), and - an unfamiliar bottle of lighter fluid apparently confiscated by Mrs. Perns, her beloved substitute


1. Is a teacher permitted to temporarily confiscate tools of obstructions to the classroom?

2. Is a teacher permitted to confiscate tools of obstructions ad infinitum?

3. Is there a difference between a regular teacher and a substitute?

4. What should they do with dangerous substances?  



What is the Law?



The Baffled Teacher implicates the following six laws.

1.       It is forbidden to steal temporarily with the intention of subsequently returning the article [Choshen Mishpat 346: 1]

 2.       It is forbidden to steal from a minor [Choshen Mishpat 346: 2]

3.       A parent, teacher, or person of authority may not use their position of power to indiscriminately inflict unnecessary pain on a child [Devarim 25: 3].

4.       One who is entrusted with the discipline of a child may not shirk his or her responsibilities [Mishlei 22: 6].  

5.       So long as the pedagogue tactic is effective, a parent or one who is responsible for the development of a child may  (and at times should) cause the child pain while disciplining him or her [Rambam Hilchos De'os 6: 10].

6.       Similarly, one who is responsible for the child's development may confiscate articles obstructing the child's development [Pischei Choshen Hilchos Gezeilah 1: 17]



As individuals responsible for the child's development, a teacher or substitute may in good-faith confiscate from their students tools of obstruction. They may only keep them ad infinitum if returning them would be destructive to their students' development. Otherwise, they would be required to return the belongings to their due owners after the "lesson is learned." Similarly, dangerous articles should not be returned to the children.

Another thought to consider is that when parents send their children to school, they understand that the staff needs to keep control of the classroom and school and in their effort will remove tools of obstruction. Obviously, this does not give staff members to irresponsibly and indiscriminately confiscate belongings of children as long as Mrs. Green or adult members of her household are home, she is permitted to allow others to use items which she borrowed.

It is an act of negligence to vacuum without picking up articles from the floor which could damage the machine.

If however, the articles which caused damage were in an unexpected place, and could not have been seen, the damage ensued is viewed as damages incurred in the course of normal use. Consequently, the borrower is absolved from paying for such damages.

The Baffled Babysitter Part IV: A Succos Festival     Issue #: Special Class 05

The Baffled Babysitter Part IV: A Succos Festival The yellow Mediterranean Wednesday - morning sun s ...

The Baffled Babysitter Part IV: A Succos Festival

The yellow Mediterranean Wednesday - morning sun spanned its love and warming embrace across the blue domelike Jerusalem firmament, as the jovial populace frolicked festively back and forth fervently carrying out their pre-holiday errands.
Busying themselves with untold details and preparations, the Berman’s enlisted Sara their favorite babysitter to care for Meira, Yair and Yonatan, and tie up some loose Succah ends.  Mrs. Berman handed Sara a plastic container of dried sweetened fruit, should she deem it fit to treat her adorable saplings; consciously deciding the chocolate was just not the way to go…   The foursome made their ways joyfully down the two flights of white stairs to examine their lovely wooden holiday structure and to add their own unique decorative flavors to enhance their makeshift seven-day abode.  The background music in the air only added to the emotionally charged atmosphere swelling with smiles and good will.   Four Succahs bejeweled the Jerusalem cobblestone courtyard in front of the Berman residence; belonging to the Fried, the Gold, the Hartman, and the Berman families respectively.    In general, the longtime neighbors were on favorable terms with one another, though unfortunately, affairs with Mrs. Berman and Mrs. Hartman had recently been somewhat strained and severely compromised.  

Quite handy and creative herself: Sara and the children began to hang some beautiful photos and ornaments along the lightly colored wooden Succah wall when they suddenly ran out of hooks.  
Meira skipped outside and found a jar of metal hooks alongside the Gold Succah.  Without thinking too much, Meira took some hooks from the jar to "borrow" for the holiday.  Enthusiastically, Meira handed them to Sara and told her to remember to tell daddy to return them to the Gold’s after the holiday.   Meanwhile, fifteen-year-old Danny Gold came racing downstairs to lay some more support beams across the top of his Succah. His electricity yet to be connected, he figured the Fried’s would not mind if he used their outlet and extension cord for a half hour to complete the job. Nor for that matter would they mind if he charged his cell phone in their outlet.  “After all,” he thought “I am involved in a virtuous undertaking”.   In the Hartman Succah, Mr. Hartman and his four children were installing their light fixtures, when their electric drill ran out of power. Mr. Hartman went next store to the Berman's to ask Sara if he could borrow the Berman’s drill for two hours, to which Sara graciously consented.    Shortly thereafter, the twins came barging into the Berman Succah laughing hysterically. Sara and Meira turned around and their mouths dropped wide open. 
The twins' faces were adorned in chocolate (again!).  Some rudimentary investigation led to the discovery of an empty jar of dried fruit and a depletion of Hartman's chocolate bar stash. Apparently, Yair and Yonatan had usurped the jar of dried fruit, and convinced the Hartman kids to barter their Torino bars for a stash of sugared pineapple. (They did it again!) 
After Mr. Hartman finished installing his light fixtures, he sat down on the courtyard bench to reply to some last minute emails before the holiday borrowing or rather making use of the Gold's WiFi.

The Dilemmas:

I. Meira Berman borrowed Gold's hooks without permission for use during the holiday.

II. Danny Gold used the Fried's extension cord and electricity to power his drill and recharge his cell phone without permission.

III. Sara the babysitter lent Berman’s drill to Mr. Hartman without receiving permission from the Berman's to do so.

IV. Mrs. Berman entrusted Sara with the sugared pineapples to keep the twins in line. The twins however, got hold of the fruit and used it for mischief.

V. Mr. Hartman made use of Gold's Wifi without permission. 


What's the Law?

The Baffled Babysitter Part IV implicates the following Halachos:
1.      One who borrows an article without receiving permission from the owner is a thief.  As a thief, he or she is required to return the object to the owner and is liable for any damages in the interim [Choshen Mishpat 359:5].  

2.  Generally, observant Jews permit others to perform  "mitzvos" to be performed with their belongings provided they incur no (or minimal) loss or no inconvenience. 
3. Even so, if the owner is accessible, the owner must be contacted before using the article.
Thus, if one is unable to contact the owner, one may generally assume the right to use another fellow's possessions for mitzvah performance.
 Example A: 
If Rabbi A is delivering a shiur and cannot be disturbed, Rabbi B may use Rabbi A’s talis without receiving permission.
Example B: 
If Ariella is sleeping, Atara may use Ariella’s Chumash to look up a source for her report, without receiving permission.
4. Nevertheless, when it is apparent that the owner would object to usage of the article without receiving permission, doing so would be deemed thievery.

Similarly, such sanction ought not to be assumed if the consequences would generate a significant loss or inconvenience on the owner's part.

Example A:  

Rabbi B may NOT use Rabbi A's talis without permission:
1) During communal prayer services (when Rabbi A might need the talis for his personal use), 
2) During the summer when people sweat, or if Rabbi A stores the talis in his private cubby, whereby indicating that he does not wish anyone to use it without express permission [Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 14: 4, Aruch Hashulchan Orach Chaim 14: 11, 12].

Example B
1) Atara may not indiscriminately use Ariella’s Chumash during class time when it is possible that Ariella would need the Chumash herself.
2) Atara may not indiscriminately use Ariella’s Chumash while brushing her teeth or eating a sloppy Joe sandwich. Atara may not indiscriminately open Ariella’s drawer, and take out her Chumash

5. A paid trustee or a shomeres sachar is liable for theft of the entrusted article [Shemos 22:9-11].

 Naomi left her pearls by Jewel the Jeweler to repair her clasp. 
Jewel step out of the store for a few minutes to service a customer. Meanwhile, a thief jumped behind the counter and fled with Naomi’s necklace. 
As the Jeweler gets paid for repairing and guarding Naomi’s pearls, he is liable to pay Naomi for her stolen pearls.
6. One who borrows, rents, or is entrusted with a movable object, may not lend or rent it to another individual. 
Nevertheless, the primary trustee may allow for the people whom the owner generally permits to use the object, to become "secondary users", if the level of trust is uncompromised.   

For instance, a borrower assumes greater liability for the article than a unpaid trustee a shomeres chinam,  (A shomeres chinam pays for negligence. A borrower even pays for unforeseen accidents) [Shemos 22:13]. 

A borrower may therefore not deposit the article by a shomeres chinam, even if the shomeres chinam is a good friend of the owner. [Rambam Hilchos Sechirus 1:4, 5:5 See  Maggid Mishnah].

Shani borrowed an mp3 player from Aviva. Shani must  return Aviva her mp3. Even if an accident occurs, Shani must pay Aviva for her loss. If Shani wants to play tennis, she may not ask Shira to do her a favor and watch Aviva’s mp3 player.
Why not?  ___________________________________________________________ 
7.   One who loses an article to a lion, bear, and gales of a sea, rush of the river or similar circumstance of almost sure defeat despairs from ever retrieving it. Protesting the contrary is like crying over a collapsed home. As such, consciously or subconsciously the initial owner allows another party to pick up the article and keep it [Choshen Mishpat 259: 7].

I. The usage of hooks during the Succos holiday may be comparable to Rabbi B using Rabbi A’s talis during communal prayer service or Atara using Ariella’s Chumash during class. 
Therefore, even if the Gold’s and the Berman’s are generally accustomed to lending each other small items, Meira Berman may only use Gold's hooks if she is certain that the Gold’s do not need them for their own Succah.
II. The usage of an extension cord in this setting for a half hour does not generate a risk of damage nor any noticeable loss. Danny Gold could therefore assume that the Fried’s would permit him to use their extension cord which was lying on the ground in order to fulfill a mitzvah and complete the construction of his Succah.
III. However, the usage of  electricity for a half hour to power a drill and to recharge a cell phone generates a financial loss of halachic significance (More than the value of a prutah.)
Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l explain that in Choshen Mishpat a prutah is the contemporary lowest denomination coin that can be used to purchase different individual items. 
[Note: Regarding certain Halachic concerns, a prutah is calculated at the value of 1/40 of a gram of silver.]

Thus, Danny may not  simply assume the right to use Fried's electricity without having received permission to do so.  
[Note: A pattern of giving and taking of sorts would be considered receiving  permission.]
IV. The Berman's entrusted Sara with the drill. As a shomeres, Sara generally has no right to allow anyone else to use it.
V. Exception
While a trustee may permit one whom the owner generally allows to use their article, to become a secondary trustee; and as such babysitters may generally lend objects in their trust to neighbors, 
Application: -

There are two grounds to forbid Sara to permit Mr. Hartman to use the drill without explicit permission from the Berman’s.
1) Electrical appliances are delicate and it is common for people to be particular about passing them from hand to hand. 
2) Mrs. Hartman and Mrs. Berman's relationship was strained. It is possible that even if the Bermans would allow the Gold's or the Fried's to use their drill they would not want the Hartmans to do so.

V.  Mrs. Berman entrusted the sugared pineapples with Sara, a shomeres sachar for a specific purpose. She failed to safeguard them for their appropriate use. Instead, the pineapples were "stolen". 
While practically, we can assume that Mrs. Berman would not hold her to task and will understand that such occurrences happen, according to the letter of the law, Sara would be responsible to pay Mrs. Berman for the "stolen" sugared pineapples.
VI.  Gold could have blocked access to his WiFi. Gold knows that by not blocking his WiFi anyone can exploit the available service. He figuratively left it to the "gales of the sea".  As he relinquishes control over who makes use of his WiFi, Hartman may use it to check his email without worry. Nevertheless, he should not use Gold's WiFi for watching videos without receiving permission to do so, as watching videos slows down Gold's service and would cause Gold a loss.


The Dilemmas:

1. May Meira use Gold’s hooks?

2. May Danny Gold use Fried’s extension cord and electricity?

3. May Sara lend Mr. Hartman the Berman drill?

4. According to the letter of the law is Sara responsible for the sugared pineapples?

5. May Mr. Hartman use Gold’s WiFi


The Answers:
1. Meira  should ask the Golds for permission. If the Gold's are unavailable she may only use the hooks if she is certain that they do not need it over Succos.

2. If the Fried's are unavailable, Danny Gold may use the extension cord but may not make use of the Fried's electricity without receiving permission to do so. 

3. Sara may not lend the drill to Mr. Hartman without receiving permission to do so from the Berman's. 

4. Although, Mrs. Berman would most probably look the other way, according to the letter of the law, Sara is required to pay Mrs. Berman for the value of the sugared pineapples. 

5. Mr. Hartman may use Gold's open WiFi to check his emails 

My Skin or My Kin?     Issue #: 126

My Skin or My Kin?“The living room needs some tidying up, darlings. Please make mommy a pleasa ...

My Skin or My Kin?
“The living room needs some tidying up, darlings. Please make mommy a pleasant surprise. I’ve got to fold the laundry. I’ll be back downstairs in seven minutes, boys.” 
“Sure thing Mommy,” chanted the precocious Berman twins, Yair and Yonatan with a foreboding ringing intone in their somewhat innocent voices.
“It’s awfully quiet down there boys: Is everything all right?” The stern and inquisitive voice emanating from the upstairs was met with a deafening silence.  
Ten minutes later, Mrs. Berman returned. Her mouth dropped wide open in shock but not disbelief! Yair carefully held a scissors in hand and was studiously cutting an M for mommy from a paper. Between Yair and Yonatan lay a freshly cut apron identically matching her designer curtains. Her eyes glanced hard at the curtains and discerned a gouging hole on the bottom of the curtains…Yair! How dare you! “Mommy. It was not me!”
A similar question has tragically surfaced in almost every generation throughout the long Jewish exile in numerous different forms. One such heart-wrenching and difficult to write about example follows.
The ghettos were run by Jewish councils, (Judenrat) who were responsible for carrying out Nazi orders.
The transports bound for Auschwitz and other concentration camps would come, and the Nazis would ask for 1,000 Jews. The Council's rationalization was, "If we did not send off the one thousand, they would ask for two thousand." Avi was chosen by the Judenrat. He reckoned that he could bribe a council member...but that meant someone else would have to take his place...?
History proved however, that not only the one thousand went, but ultimately the two thousand went, too. And not only the two thousand, but the council members went and their entire families went also. By the end of the war, almost all from the ghettos were swept away. May Yair say that it was not him, whereby Mommy would know that it was Yonatan? May the council hand over 1000 to save 2000? May Avi bribe the council members to save him, knowing that another would have to take his place?

What’s the Law?

The Answer:  
Yair may tell Mommy he did not do it.  

The council may not hand 1000 over. 

Avi may not bribe his way out knowing that another would have to take his place. 

Detailed Explanation

My Skin or My Kin? invokes the following halachos.
1. If A notices an overflowing river nearing his field, he may divert the water even if by doing so, the water will overflow towards B’s field. 
2. Once the water entered A’s field, A may not divert the flow into B’s field [Yerushalmi Bava Kama 3: 1].
3. The duke decreed that two of the townspeople should be taxed. Each townsperson may individually try to absolve him/herself from the tax, knowing that someone else will probably end up having to foot the bill. Once the duke chooses A to pay the tax; A may NOT persuade the duke to absolve him/her from the tax, knowing that someone else will have to pay in his/her stead [Choshen Mishpat 163, Sha”ch 18].
4. False accusations were directed at A A may not deflect them if B will automatically be incriminated.
5. However, if B is in fact the culprit, while A may not say that B is guilty, he/she is permitted to say, “it was not me” [Sefer Chofetz Chaim: Hilchos Lashon Hara chapter 10, Be’er Mayim Chaim 43].
6. It is forbidden to hand a fellow Jew over to the enemy, even in order to save many other lives (unless the first Jew is otherwise deserving of death by a Beis Din).  [Rambam Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah 5: 5 See also, Sefer Alei Meroros from Rav Yehoshua Moshe Aharonson pub. 1996].
If Yonatan was deserving of reprimand, Yair does not need to take the blame. He may not say that Yonatan cut the curtain but may say that he did not.  The Council may not hand over their brethren.  The same dilemma was posed in July 1942. Rav Aharonson ruled that the council should abstain and so they did.
Avi was selected. As Avi’s brethren are not deserving of such treatment, Avi may not save his skin by means of causing another to be put on death row.

Timely Payments     Issue #: Textbook: Timely Payments

The Laws of Paying Your Workers On Time Timely Payments Textbook

The Laws of Paying Your Workers On Time

Timely Payments Textbook

The Baffled Teacher     Issue #: 092

The Baffled Teacher Experienta Docet! (Experience teaches! )  As the eagerly awaited Passover s ...

The Baffled Teacher

Experienta Docet! (Experience teaches! )

 As the eagerly awaited Passover season was rapidly arriving, students and teachers alike, seemed to have been counting down the hours towards liberation. The finale of the wait was topped with a virtual mini-course in janitorial skills, as the student body and teachers staff avidly cleaned through their cubbies, lockers, and desks.

 Going through her desk drawers, Mrs. Linda Gold, the highly acclaimed A-Track sixth grade boys Latin roots teacher was confronted with confiscated symbolisms of her annus mirabulis (wonderful year) .

 A ping pong racket, a water blaster, a car magazine, a heavy duty flashlight, a megaphone, a GPS, a hardball, some darts, a blackberry, some rather dangerous vestiges of the beginnings of an armamentarium (arsenal), and - an unfamiliar bottle of lighter fluid apparently confiscated by Mrs. Perns, her beloved substitute.


1. Is a teacher permitted to temporarily confiscate tools of obstructions to the classroom?

2. Is a teacher permitted to confiscate tools of obstructions ad infinitum?

3. Is there a difference between a regular teacher and a substitute?

4. What should they do with dangerous substances?  


What is the Halacha?

 The Answer

 See detailed explanation


Detailed Explanation

 The Baffled Teacher implicates the following six laws.


1.       It is forbidden to steal temporarily with the intention of subsequently returning the article [Choshen Mishpat 346: 1] 

2.       It is forbidden to steal from a minor [Choshen Mishpat 346: 2]

3.       A parent or teacher may not use their position of power to indiscriminately inflict unnecessary pain on a child.

4.       One who is entrusted with the discipline of a child may not shirk his or her responsibilities [Mishlei 22:6 ].  

5.       So long as the pedagogue tactic is effective, a parent or one who is responsible for the development of a child may  (and at times should) cause the child pain while disciplining him or her [Rambam Hilchos De'os 6: 10].

6.       Similarly, one who is responsible for the child's development may confiscate articles obstructing the child's development [Pischei Choshen Hilchos Gezeilah 1: 17].


As individuals responsible for the child's development, a teacher or substitute may in good-faith confiscate from their students tools of obstruction. They may only keep them ad infinitum if returning them would be destructive to their students' development. Otherwise, they would be required to return the belongings to their due owners after the "lesson is learned." Similarly, dangerous articles should not be returned to the children.

Another thought to consider is that when parents send their children to school, they understand that the staff needs to keep control of the classroom and school and in their effort will remove tools of obstruction. Obviously, this does not give staff members to irresponsibly and indiscriminately confiscate belongings of children.s long as Mrs.Green or adult members of her household are home, she is permitted to allow others to use items which she borrowed. 

It is an act of negligence to vacuum without picking up articles from the floor which could damage the machine.

 If however, the articles which caused damage were in an unexpected place, and could not have been seen, the damage ensued is viewed as damages incurred in the course of normal use. Consequently, the borrower is absolved from paying for such damages.

Thus, if Bracha was negligent, she is liable to pay for the damages. Otherwise, Mrs. Stein would swallow the loss. 

Football Fury & Snow Slamming     Issue #: 113

Football Fury & Snow Slamming Football Fury Growing up in New York City, came along with many be ...

Football Fury & Snow Slamming

Football Fury Growing up in New York City, came along with many benefits and perks; not to forget - football fury in front of school on a barricaded one way street, decorated with double parked cars owned by staff members and block neighbors.

The senior class of 96’s amiable rapport with their science teacher, Mr. Rose turned sour once Ari tackled Benny through Mr. Rose’s windshield.


Who must pay for the window?


Snow Slamming Traveling at reduced speed down I-95, due to the falling wet snow, a car carrier and white Hummer inadvertently swerved into each other’s lanes, sideswiping and causing each other significant damage.


How would Torah Law adjudicate this scenario?

What is the Halacha?


The Answer:

The boys are absolved from compensating Mr. Rose for inadvertently smashing his windshield (see detailed explanation).  The car carrier and Hummer are liable for the damages they caused each other.


Detailed Explanation


Football Fury & Snow Slamming invokes the following three Halachos.


  1. While Beit Din retains the authority to demand compensation for unintentional damages directly perpetrated by the aggressor's actions - when the aggressor could reasonably have assumed that such damage could have resulted [Choshen Mishpat 378: 7] - there are particular exceptions.


During distinct instances, our sages sanctioned involvement in specific activities within public property, which inherently encompass a compromised degree of caution, whereby absolving the individual from consequential unintentional damages [See Choshen Mishpat 378:8 for examples].


  1. If A and B collide and actively injure each other or damage each other’s property, whether intentionally or unintentionally, while walking legally in public property, they are liable for the damages they cause to one another [Choshen Mishpat 378: 7, 221: 8 Rema].


  1. If A and B damage each other, either personally or via their property, the greater damager subtracts the value of the lesser damage and compensates the difference to the lesser damager [Choshen Mishpat 402:1].





Football Fury When involved in playing football, a player’s degree of caution for surrounding property is naturally compromised. Generally, however, a player in a public city street would be liable nevertheless for damages to parked cars because the city street is given for parking cars and not for football playing. However, when a local municipality issues a school a permit to close off the street to through traffic, allowing the students to play ball in the street, the municipality essentially grants the players the right to involve themselves in an activity encompassing a compromised degree of caution. As such, the players would be absolved from paying for unintentionally damaging Mr. Rose’s windshield.  


Snow Slamming: Both the car carrier and the Hummer were abiding by the law and driving in their respective appropriate lanes at reduced speeds due to the compromised weather conditions.  Nevertheless, they both unintentionally actively damaged one another’s property and are liable for the damage incurred, if they were aware of each other’s presence and could have avoided colliding. 
However, in all probability, they were both unable to avoid the unintentional active damage. Rambam absolves the parties in such instances [see Rambam Chovel Umazik 6:9, Choshen Mishpat 378 Biur Hagra]. 
In practicality, drivers agree to abide and bind themselves by regulations established by insurance companies [Choshen Mishpat 331].  

About Project Fellow     Issue #: 000

Explore contemporary case studies via  the time-tested prisms of three thousand years of  ...

Explore contemporary case studies via  the time-tested prisms of three thousand years of  Jewish ethics and business law through our stimulating activities and guided modules.

Discover your timeless and deep-seated inner ethical barometer!


About Project Fellow

Project Fellow-Yesharim based in Yerushalayim is a cutting edge, grassroots movement at the forefront of advancing global ethics awareness and bringing Jews closer to one another.

Via progressive,  engaging, and interactive educational methods, PROJECT FELLOW  tackles our consistent and compounding ethical dilemmas and provides clear, practical and time-tested guidance.

Over the years, Project Fellow has sponsored:  multi-level award-winning curricula, seminars, webinars, lectures, Jewish outreach programs and material, publications, weekly emails, and a growing array of ethics awareness programs geared for the professional, classroom and family settings.

The Yesharim Research Center serves as Project Fellow’s think tank, studying and analyzing relevant material.

PROJECT FELLOW is endorsed  by foremost Jewish deans, principals, teachers,  attorneys, and justices of law, business executives,  community  activists, outreach Rabbis, and influential leaders in major Jewish organizations.

For Questions or to schedule a class: email us @

Class Action: The Banana Toss     Issue #: 068

Class Action: The Banana Toss Leah Gold was a good natured and intelligent young girl. She strove to ...

Class Action: The Banana Toss

Leah Gold was a good natured and intelligent young girl. She strove to excel in her studies and earned her well deserved reputation as a sincere and trusted friend. Seated amidst her classmates on North Green Bay Avenue in Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Leah would often feel overcome with a sudden surge of spirited energy.

With the patient prodding and encouragement of her dedicated TA teachers, she invested much effort into channeling her inquisitiveness, vivid imagination, and enthusiastic innovativeness towards constructive venues. As she slowly matured, her tendencies only added to the overall high school spirit and collective learning experiences.

One bright sunny October day as the multi colored autumn leaves rustled softly in the refreshing morning breeze, the inner whispers so familiar to her young heart began to reach a crescendo.

The authoritative voice emanating from behind the teacher's desk enhanced the background undertones of the visions of her inner-self. Leah was climbing a tall Emergent tree. Her arm slowly reached up for the prehensile tail of a new world monkey, lifted the yellow banana from within its grip and wounded up for the fifty yard toss, when suddenly she caught herself in her tracks.

"A class disruption of such sorts would certainly spoil today's lesson. My classmates' parents invest untold efforts in order to cover their tuition obligations. Perhaps by disrupting the class, I will be grossly guilty of thievery of a high order."


What's the Law?

[Submitted by: Z.R. 10th grader Passaic, NJ]


The Answer

Leah indeed, may not toss the banana across the room. However, if she would do so she would not be liable to compensate her classmates' parents for lost class time.


Detailed Explanation


By tossing a banana disrupting a teacher from presenting her lesson, Leah could transgress the following five sins.

1) Do not do to your fellows that which you would not want another to do to you (Vayikra 19; 18).

2) Do not garner honor as a result of your fellow's humiliation (Devarim 6:12, Yerushalmi Maseches Chagiga 2:1)

3) Do not insult, pain, humiliate your fellow (Vayikra 19: 17, 25: 17).

4) "Do not act in a manner which will disgrace My Sacred Name" (ibid 22: 32).

5) Do not display disdain to food by throwing bread, or another food item in a manner in which it can become unappealing (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 171:1).

Although, a disruption of such proportions is indeed a loss for the entire class, this is to be expected in a classroom setting with lively younger children. As such, parents do not expect every single classroom moment to be 100% productive working time. Consequently, Leah is absolved from compensating her friends' parents.

Question to Ponder:

Would the answer differ it if a teenager impedes a teacher from teaching for an extended period of time?

[Answered by Rabbi Yosef Friedman]

Cashed In!     Issue #: 064

Cashed In!   Sonia Good of Bakersfield, California enjoyed spending her golden years at the Gle ...

Cashed In!


Sonia Good of Bakersfield, California enjoyed spending her golden years at the Glenwood Gardens; a beautiful assisted living community, which offered attractive continuing care and retirement facilities. Her children and grandchildren made it their business to visit her throughout the week. Sonia would listen to the children talk, teach them how to knit, play bingo with them and share with them eighty-nine years of history. 


Last Tuesday afternoon, Sonia's ten-year-old granddaughter Leah Rice came to visit. They decided to take a stroll down the road to Pride's Produce Stand to purchase a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice.


"That will be $1.50 please", said Jonathan, the cashier. "Sure thing", replied Sonia. Sonia handed Leah $1.50. Leah paid Jonathan and took their cup of Orange Juice. Together, Grandma and Leah sat down beneath the shady green tree to enjoy the fresh air, their drink and most of all each other's company.


 Jonathan looked at one of the quarters Leah had handed him. Suddenly his heart began to race. "I can strike it rich today," he said to himself.


 "Look here, this madam gave me a 1932 US quarter which sells as a collector's item for $1000." Jonathan took a quarter from his pocket, switched it for the collector's quarter and promptly placed $1.50 in the cash register.


Jonathan made a mental note to cash in his quarter before nightfall.


What's the Halacha?


[Submitted by Sandor Milun - Madison, Wisconsin / London]


The Answer 

Jonathan may keep his windfall.


Detailed Explanation


Cashed In! invokes the following law.


Generally, a legal acquisition or transfer of ownership results from a synthesis of two integral factors - a defined means of acquisition and a level of cognitive awareness. Even in certain specified instances where one need not be actively aware of the transition at the time of the transfer, such acquisition results only if it is probable that the acquirer would discover his/her acquisition in the near future. Otherwise, a "prescribed means of acquisition" alone does not effect a transfer of ownership of the article.

Such an article either remains ownerless or in the possession of the initial owner.


Consequently, we can appreciate the following law.

1. A middleman purchased and resold metal presuming from the onset that the merchandise was iron. Subsequently, the customer discovered a precious metal hidden beneath the iron coating.

The customer need not return the merchandise to the middleman [Choshen Mishpat 232: 18, Pischei Teshuva 8, Nesivos Hamishpat 8].



Although, nowadays coin value information readily available, people generally do not take note of the dates printed on their coins. Instead, when performing any means of legal acquisition of currency, one's cognitive awareness is limited to the face value of the coin or promissory note.

The acquisition of its value as an antique or collectors' item will not be affected before becoming aware of its value. 

In our case, the collectors' value of the quarter remained forever ownerless and becomes the property of the one who discovers its value.

Consequently, as Grandma Sonia never knew she carried a collector’s item, she lacked legal ownership of the additional value. Similarly, we may comfortably assume that the storeowner would never have found out that a 1932 quarter lay in his or her cash register. As such, the proprietor will not become the legal owner of its collectors' value. Jonathan discovered a windfall. As long as the makes the proprietor whole, by giving him or her the due twenty five cents, he may redeem his discovery as he sees fit.

A Free Ride?     Issue #: 063

A Free Ride? Rail Corporation New South Wales (RailCorp) is a statutory authority of the New South W ...

A Free Ride?

Rail Corporation New South Wales (RailCorp) is a statutory authority of the New South Wales government. RailCorp owns, operates and maintains the Sydney suburban and interurban rail network, marketed under the CityRail brand; in addition to operating rural passenger services under the CountryLink brand. Trains operate for 20 hours a day, and over 900,000 weekday passenger journeys are made on 2365 daily services over 2080km of track and through 306 stations (including interurban lines).

"This past week in Sydney, the RailCorp workers who run the light rail inside the city went on strike due to contract disputes between the Union and RailCorp management. The Union decided to strike in a way that would not inconvenience the city of Sydney, however would still get the message across to management. They ran the trains, yet they refused to check passenger tickets or sell new tickets. As I entered the station, a very polite worker confronted me, smiled and happily advised me that today I should not bother going to the unoccupied ticket counter, as I need not buy a ticket today. Uneasy about pilfering a free ride, I decided to try to purchase a ticket through the machine. I approached the machine only to find that a technician had beaten me to it. He had already began opening it up in order to disable the machine."

  1. If I cannot convince the technician to allow me to purchase a ticket before he disables the machine, may I ride the train to work today?
  2. 2. Am I stealing if I take advantage of the strike and take multiple rides


What's the Halacha?


The Answer

As long as children will not wrongly learn from our behavior that jumping the turnstile or cheating an authority is allowed, one may ride the train free, even numerous times, during the  duration of the strike.


Detailed Explanation


A Free Ride?  invokes the following three laws.     

1. One may not steal services from an individual, service provider, statutory authority, or government body. A thief is obligated to repay the value of the stolen services to the victim [Choshen Mishpat 348: 2 Shach 3]. 


2. One who loses an article to a lion, bear, and gales of a sea, rush of the river or similar circumstance of almost sure defeat despairs from ever retrieving it. Protesting the contrary is like crying over a collapsed home. As such, consciously or subconsciously the initial owner allows another party to pick up the article [Choshen Mishpat 259: 7].


3. One is obligated to be extra vigilant never to allow children to learn from our behavior, even if our actions are in accordance with the letter of the law; that cheating and swindling is permissible [Succah 46b]. 


Objectively, it is forbidden to board the train without paying for your ride at the required time. One who takes a free ride illegally must repay for his or her theft afterward.

However, in our instance, RailCorp knew of the impending strike, yet RailCorp continued providing train service.

Additionally, the authority knew that most of society would never even consider paying for their rides later. Even if they would not turn an individual down if he or she wished to pay later, they inevitably lost their claim to the value of the rides that day.

Thus, the circumstances are no different from a gale of water approaching articles on the beach. Railcorp, "threw the rides into the sea". Accordingly, one is not guilty of theft for riding the train even numerous times that day free.

However, when traveling with children one must make sure that they understand why today is different from the norm. If there is a possibility that children or people who somewhat lack a "finer discerning capacity" will mistakenly learn from our practice that one may jump the turnstile, then it is forbidden to ride the train that day.



May You Ever Lie?     Issue #: Special Edition 01

May You Ever Lie? VaHashem Elokim Emes. Hashem is reality[1], the Emes[2]. All existence is from Him ...

May You Ever Lie?

VaHashem Elokim Emes. Hashem is reality[1], the Emes[2]. All existence is from Him alone[3]. Lo yiyehe lecha elohim acheim al panai[4]. There is no other source to success, but Hashem. Thus, while falsehood might seemingly offer instantaneous success, it is nothing but a mirage and a fleeting temptation.

Hashem created us so that we could merit enjoying His Shechina[5]. One merits bracha from Hashem by aligning one’s Middos with the Middos of the Omnipotent, whereby becoming compatible with His Blessings[6]. Thus, one who acts truthfully will merit bracha in his or her life.

In fact, the Sefer Chassidim[7] promises that one who chooses[8] to live within the realm of reality and takes care to speak and think only the truth will likewise merit that Hashem will ensure that his or her words and thoughts will indeed reflect reality. In other words, Hashem will actualize the brachos and thoughts of a truthful individual.

In contrast; liars and cheats are abhorred by the G-d of Truth[9]. They are simply unworthy and incapable of beholding the Shechina’s countenance[10]. Thus, while initially, a liar may enjoy a luring gain, which is in fact the nature of sinful temptation[11], he or she will ultimately encounter a life of misfortune[12].  Hence, the Be’er Hagola[13] testifies, “I write this for generations, ‘I saw many who became wealthy because of deceit, but ultimately lost it all and left no blessing for their children’.”

Truthfulness is not merely a noble mode of conduct for children, tzaddikim and simpletons. Tanach is replete with biblical[14] and rabbinic[15] exhortations to deal truthfully and desist from deceit. One of the first questions that the Heavenly tribunal will grill us on is, “Were you honest in business?”[16]

The Quandary

Bilaam referred to our Avos as Yesharim, just[17]. Accordingly, R. Chiya bar Aba quotes R. Yochanan as terming Sefer Bereishis- the life lessons of our Avos- as the Sefer Yesharim[18].  

Amidst a barbaric and egocentric environment[19], our Avos battled their evil inclinations[20] and consistently guided their lives in accordance with the just Middos of Hashem, whereby introducing humanity to kindness, truthfulness and G-dly ethos[21].

This brings us to a number of enigmatic tales of how our Avos, the paradigm Yesharim, seemingly employed deceit to advance numerous causes. The Torah is teaching us that under certain circumstances, falsehood could and should be employed.

Our challenge will be to probe through Tanach, Tamudic and Rabbinic literature in order to accurately identify the circumstances where speaking the untruth is permissible.

Avraham made a pact with Sara to present themselves during their travels as siblings instead of as husband and wife in an effort to spare his life[22]. Yaakov presented himself to Yitzchak as the firstborn in order to manipulate Yitzchak, into conferring the brachos upon himself instead of Eisav[23]. After Yaakov died, the brothers lied to Yosef and told him that their father instructed that he forgive them and deal kindly with them posthumously[24]. And perhaps most of astonishing of all, Hashem Himself lied to Avraham and said that Sara doubted the Angel’s prediction that she would bear a child. While she said, “and my husband is old[25],” when Hashem reported the comment to Avraham, He altered her words as though she said, “and I am old.[26]

So when may one lie?

Were we to simply justify Avraham’s sly dealings with Pharaoh and Avimelech by employing Dovid Hamelech’ description of an eved Hashem[27] who uses trickery to outsmart the criminal in order to uphold justice, in the spirit of וְעִם עִקֵּשׁ תִּתְפַּתָּל and with a crooked man, outsmart him[28], we would be still be challenged to explain the following Gemara.

How do you know that Reuven may not fabricate an aggregated claim in court against Shimon in order to pressure Shimon to admit to a portion of the claim, which in truth is the amount that Shimon really owes Reuven? From the words “midvar sheker tirchak.”[29]

It would seem from the quotation above that one may not use trickery to get that which he/she rightfully deserves.

So when may one lie?

Looking a little closer at two of the tales, we find that Avraham defended his false claim to Avimelech by saying that in reality him and Sara were also blood relatives[30]. Yaakov tells Yitzchak, Anochi Eisav bechorecha, I am Eisav your first born. Rashi comments that these words can be understood as anochi, I am, he who brought you your food, Eisav Bechorecha, Eisav is your firstborn[31].

Is the Torah telling us that one may say half-truths and slick speech to fool others in an effort to advance one’s cause?

Let us examine together a few sources and discover just when one may or may not lie. This week we will highlight four different categories of scenarios, each with its own respective guidelines.

Let us begin with the Pasuk of midvar sheker tirchak.

ו לֹא תַטֶּה מִשְׁפַּט אֶבְיֹנְךָ, בְּרִיבוֹ.  ז מִדְּבַר-שֶׁקֶר, תִּרְחָק; וְנָקִי וְצַדִּיק אַל-תַּהֲרֹג, כִּי לֹא-אַצְדִּיק רָשָׁע. 

ח וְשֹׁחַד, לֹא תִקָּח:  כִּי הַשֹּׁחַד יְעַוֵּר פִּקְחִים, וִיסַלֵּף דִּבְרֵי צַדִּיקִים.

Do not bend the judgment of your destitute in his law suit. Distance yourself from deceit. Do not kill one who is innocent or vindicated in court, for I will not exonerate a wicked person. You shall not take a bribe, for the bribe will blind those who can see and make righteous words crooked.

While the Talmud aptly rules that Midvar sheker tirchak is an all encompassing directive incorporating situations in legal[32], interpersonal[33], and private life[34] and the word tirchak, exhorts us to stay far away from falsehood; whereby conveying that lying is abhorred, be it blatant or insinuated; the pasuk midvar sheker tirchak is nevertheless situated within the context of a court setting,

As such, the Gemara[35] delineates stringencies by which one must abide specifically in court and court like settings, which need not and at times should not be upheld in other settings.

In court

The Gemara lists thirteen examples of employing slyness to advance one’s cause within the context of a court case or adjudicating a law/ruling. All of these behaviors are prohibited under the midvar sheker tirchak directive. Not only are blatant lies forbidden by any player in the court, e.g. judge, witnesses, prosecutor, defendant, etc.  but within the context of din, midvar sheker tirchak, anything that smells from inaccuracy is flatly forbidden, even if the objective is to bring out the real truth.

Within a Beis Din setting, the Torah exhorts us to abide by the rules and leave the rest to Hashem to take care of for I have many agents to do My work[36]. And so, do not jeopardize the integrity of the court system even to advance your just cause. The ends may not justify the means. וְעִם עִקֵּשׁ תִּתְפַּתָּל is not an option within the court setting.

※What is included in the context of a court setting? A beis din, a civil court, legal document, affidavit?

Tricking out of Court

As noted, lying and tricking outside of court is also prohibited. Geneivas Da’as, or fooling another human being, Jew and gentile alike is prohibited[37].

To Uphold Justice

Nonetheless, outside of the court setting, as was the case of Avraham and Sara vs. Pharaoh and Avimelech, and Yaakov’s pursuit of the brachos; the definition of emes is defined by the objective rather than the approach, says R. Yaakov Kamenetsky[38].  As justice warranted Avraham staying alive and Yitzchak bequeathing Yaakov, Avraham’s spiritual inheritance, Avraham and Yaakov ‘s altering of their words was not only permitted but was required. Failure to uphold justice by being a stickler for truthful words, in itself is promoting falsehood!

A case in point. 

In 2010 C. T. O’ Donnell ran for US Vice President Joe Biden’s former senate seat in Delaware. She was a strong promoter of telling the truth. She claimed, “telling the truth is always the right thing to do, I believe, and that’s what always gets you out of a situation.”

In an interview, Comedian Eddie Izzard pressed her on just how far she would take her anti-lying beliefs. Izzard asked O’Donnell whether or not she would lie to Nazis who showed up at her door during WWII and demanded to know if she were hiding any Jewish people in her house. O’Donnell refused to even entertain the notion of concealing the truth from Nazis in that scenario because “you never have to practice deception!”

What is the Halacha?

  1. Yaakov Kamenetsky explains that as the Jew does not deserve to die in the hands of the Nazi, emes, justice demands that one deceive the Nazi under such circumstances.

Hence, the following ruling.

 A person is escaping from captivity and needs to cross the river. A greedy opportunist attempts to extort an unprecedented fee from the fugitive to take him across the river on his raft. The fugitive may give him his word and when he gets to the other side simply pay the opportunist the going rate and say, “I was just kidding.” [39]

The opportunist was unjustified in his behavior. In turn, the fugitive may outsmart the crooked man.

Inconsequential Lying

Lying is a Biblical prohibition[40] even if the lie does not result in ill gotten gains. Some examples include spreading fictitious stories and exaggerations when people take you literally[41].

In fact, the Binyan Zion[42] rules that a gabbai calling someone up with the wrong name transgresses midvar sheker tirchak.

However, outside of court setting, and when not harming or eliciting ill gotten gains, emes is a midda.  Midda means character trait, but also means measure. As with all middos, one must take the entire picture into account before deciding how truthful one should be. One’s middos must be measured!

Hashem teaches that to protect Avraham from having hard feelings about Sara’s comment, one may alter the truth. The brothers were permitted to attempt to generate good will between Yosef and themselves by fabricating a call for peace by their late father.

Thus, the Gemara[43] teaches us that if being a stickler for the truth will create unnecessary hard feelings between people, breach of tznius, convey an air of haughtiness, or cause unwarranted harm to others, one must lie.

Similarly, to generate goodwill between a bride and a groom, Beis Hillel permits a wedding guest[44] to praise the bride beyond the line of accuracy.

In all of these situations, as no ill gotten gains are being elicited through the inaccuracy, one may compromise on the truth for the sake of generating peace, goodwill, privacy, humility, and to protect society from harm.


Even when it would otherwise be permissible to lie, Chazal are emphatic that one not do so if there is a chance that such behavior would train one to lie or would cause a Chillul Hashem[45], a cheapening, disdain or disgrace to Hashem and His Torah. When dealing with the public, especially in the age of instant communication, one must be ever wary of any behaving in a manner which can be construed as sub-par whereby causing a Chillul Hashem which is a grave and almost unforgivable sin. As the chosen people[46], it is our foremost duty to represent the Word of G-d on this Earth, and serve as a beacon of light unto the family of nations[47] which are yearning for our direction.

One who trains a child to lie is guilty of limdu leshonam daber sheker[48], they taught their lips to speak falsehood.

Accordingly, one must take heed to fulfill all of his/her commitments to a child[49] as failure to fulfill a commitment to a child teaches the child to lie. An adult should be careful not to lie in front of a child, even once, or encourage him/her to lie[50].

As limdu leshonam daber sheker, is a warning against developing a bad habit of lying, even an adult must take heed. As such, an adult may not regularly lie even for the sake of peace etc. as such regular behavior is habit bearing[51].

In terms of causing a Chillul Hashem, if just lying might be viewed by the public as deceitful and as such, degrade in their eyes or compromise on their respect of Hashem, Torah and/or its students, it is forbidden to lie.

Moreover, even when telling the untruth is permissible, one should try to minimize to the best of his/her ability the extent of untruth emanating from his/her mouth. Thus, although Avraham was justified in lying to Avimelech, if he could minimize the untruth by presenting Sara as his blood relative, as she really was, he was required to do so. Yaakov who was compelled to deceive Yitzchak was nevertheless required to choose an expression that could be understood in a truthful manner as well.

In Conclusion: When May One Lie?

In Court


Out of Court

To uphold Justice

Inconsequential Lies

To generating peace, goodwill, protect privacy, humility, and to protect society from harm.

Exceptions: To uphold justice out of court or Inconsequential Lies are forbidden even in order to generate peace etc.  under these circumstances:

Children, adults on a regular basis, Chillul Hashem, when objective can be accomplished by minimizing lie



[1] Yeshayahu 44:6

[2] Yirmiyahu 10:10

[3] Bereishis 1:2, 14: 19, Divrei Hayamim 29: 11

[4] Shemos 20:2

[5] Mesillas Yesharim Chapter 1

[6] Sefer HaChinuch 74

[7] Sefer Chassidim 1185, See Orchos Yosher of R. Chaim Kanievsky

[8] Devarim 30: 19

[9] Devarim 25: 16

[10] Maseches Sotah 42, Rabbeinu Yona 3: 172

[11] Bereishis 3:6

[12] Sefer HaChinuch 74

[13] Choshen Mishpat 348, R. Moshe Ravkesh of Vilna, uncle of the Vilna Gaon, R. Eliyahu Kramer Zt”l

[14] Shemos 20 12, 23:7, Vayikra 19: 36, Devarim 1: 17

[15] Yirmiyahu 9: 4

[16] Maseches Shabbos 31a

[17] Bamidbar 23: 10

[18] Avodah Zara 25a

[19] Yechezkel 16: 49, 50

[20] Bereishis 14: 22, Ramban

[21] R. Yeruchem Levovitz

[22] Bereishis 12: 13, 20: 2

[23] Bereishis 27: 19

[24] Bereishis 50: 16, 17

[25] Bereishis 18: 12

[26] Bereishis 18: 13

[27] Tehillim 18: 1

[28] Tehillim 18: 27

[29] Maseches Shavuos 30b, see Shu”t HaRashba 3:81

[30] Bereishis 20: 12

[31] Bereishis 27: 19, Rashi

[32] Shemos 20: lo saane bereiacha aid shaker

[33] Vayikra 19: lo sishkaru ish ba’amiso

[34] Mishlei 6:19 yafiach Devarim aid shaker

[35] Maseches Shavuos 30b

[36] Shemos 23: 7 Rashi

[37] Maseches Chulin 93b

[38] Emes LeYaakov Bereishis 27: 12

[39] Maseches Yevamos

[40] Sefer HaChinuch 74, Sma”g asei 107, Sma”k 227, Sefer Yad HaKetana Hilchos De’os 1:1,  Chafetz Chaim asei 13, Sharei Teshuva 3:181

[41] Maseches Nedarim 25b, Rashi permits exaggerating when people understand your intent. By exaggerating you did not convey falsehood. Conversely, Poskim note that if you call a wedding for 7:00 PM in a society where 7:00 means 9:00 PM, by writing 7:00 PM, you conveyed that the wedding would begin at 9:00 PM. Thus, beginning at 7:00 PM punctually would be a transgression of midvar sheker tirchak. (Obviously in a society where 7:00 PM means 7:00 PM, you should start at 7:00 PM.)

[42] Shu”t Binyan Zion HaChadashos 21, R. Yaakov Ettlinger author of Aruch Laner  1798- 1871, Germany

[43] Maseches Bava Metzia 23b, Maseches Sanhedrin 97a see Mahara”l’s Nesivos Olam Nesiv Ha’Emes

[44] Before the wedding though, lying about one party’s attributes may cause severe damage. As such, the guidelines are different. A treatise on this topic is beyond the scope of this article.

[45] Shu”t HaRosh 9: 1, 2

[46] Shemos 19: 5

[47] Yeshayahu 42: 6, 49: 6, 60: 3 see Netziv Bereishis 47: 28

[48] Yirmiyahu 9: 4

[49] Maseches Succah 46b

[50] Maseches Yevamos 63a

[51] Yam Shel Shlomo Yevamos 6: 46 R. Shlomo Luria 1510-1573 Lithunaia


Mounting on his ANCHEER Power Plus Folding Electric Mountain Bike, Daniel set out at 2 AM each morni ...

Mounting on his ANCHEER Power Plus Folding Electric Mountain Bike, Daniel set out at 2 AM each morning along his route in Thornhill, Toronto, CA to deliver the daily newspaper to subscribers.

The neon yellow mailboxes at the edge of the meticulously kempt front lawns, lining the peaceful city streets reflected off his MagicShine 2000-Lumen LED Bike Light and his Novapolt LED Headlamp making his nighttime job a breeze.

After years of experience, Daniel mastered his “sharpshooting abilities”. He could get that paper into the open newspaper tube without stopping his bike!

The Greenbergs were loyal subscribers for years…but that didn’t stop 15 year old Andrew Goldsmith from typically waking up at 5 AM and taking the paper for himself.

Many a time, Greenberg complained that his paper had not been delivered. Customer service policy aside; does Greenberg have the halachic right to demand a new paper?


Circulars, circulars, the free ones…you wonder why milk in Israel is sold in bags. They used to claim there were not enough trees, but hey; it seems like there are enough trees for the daily circulars… stuffed into the damaged apartment mailboxes downstairs, hanging out and then many a time littering the communal hallway…

This week, the “English Pirsumit Bulletin” ran a discount coupon for Dr. Pizza.  Avi helped himself to the Pirsumits in a few buildings and built up a stash of coupons.


Then, there are the Hebrew ones; five or six a week, not including the free weekly newspapers from political entities trying to sell their free wisdom…

Eli was making a collage for Purim, so he helped himself to the humorous stuffing in his neighbors’ mailboxes.


What about the phonebook? They dropped one in front of my apartment door, but it was dirty. Can I switch it for someone else’s?

May I take one that is lying on someone else’s doormat? What   if there is a label with the neighbor’s name on the phonebook?



Under what circumstances does someone automatically acquire something that has been placed in his/her mailbox or in front of one’s door?

Is it stealing from the neighbor to take a distributed publication from his/her doormat?



What’s the Law?

The Answer:

Taking material from a closed mailbox which is secured from the public generally constitutes stealing from the tenant/homeowner.

Taking such material from a broken mailbox in an apartment building or from a doormat would generally not constitute stealing from the tenant/homeowner.

Nonetheless, in order to permit taking material from such an insecure place, one must meet seven conditions.

see Detailed Explanation


Detailed Explanation

Wiretapping & Newspapers, Circulars, & Phone Books for the Taking invokes numerous Halachos.

We will first discuss the technical issues and then address the ethical issues.

  1. Did the homeowner/tenant acquire the paper/subscription by paying for it?[1]
  2. Prepaying for one’s subscription is an insufficient means of legally acquiring the specific issue because the issue does not exist at the time of payment. One cannot acquire something which does not yet exist [Rambam Hilchos Mechira 5: 14].

(This does not mean however, that the publisher has a right to back out of the deal after having received payment, because accepted business practice requires the publisher to supply the subscriber with the issues after having received advanced payment. Accepted business practice is called a stimsa’a and must be upheld [Choshen Mishpat 201:3]. What it does mean though, is that the subscriber does not own the specific issue until an alternative act of acquisition is performed.)

The next option to explore is whether the homeowner/tenant acquired the paper/subscription by virtue of the fact that it was placed on/in his/her property or does the homeowner/tenant need to take it out of the mailbox or lift it from the doormat in order to effectively acquire the publication?


Let us examine the options.

Two Functions of Personal Property

One’s property at times can affect a kinyan on his/her behalf; functioning as either the 1) owner’s virtual hand, his/her 2) inanimate agent or 3) both. This phenomenon is called Kinyan Chatzer: the courtyard acquisition.

The Virtual Hand

The Sages derive from Scripture [Shemos 22: 3] that just like a person can acquire                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               an article by holding it in his/her hand (Kinyan Yad), one can employ his/her property to acquire articles within. The property is like an extension of its owner and functions as the acquirer’s virtual hand.

When functioning as an extension of one’s hand, the property can acquire (a) beneficial and (b) detrimental acquisitions, just as could one’s actual hand.

However, the acquirer needs to be standing inside the property for the property to function as an extension of his/her hand [Tosafos Bava Metzia 12a].

Moreover, the article must be within the acquirer’s reach or visual guard for the acquirer’s property to function as an extension of his/her hand [Nesivos, Kesef Kodashim].

Acquiring Ownerless Article

All agree that when acquiring a previously ownerless article, (e.g. a finder) the acquirer or his deputy must be the one standing in his property.

Purchase or Gift

However, when acquiring an article from a seller or a grantor, Rema & Sm”a permit the seller or grantor to act on the acquirer’s behalf and stand in the acquirer’s property.

Nonetheless, Shulchan Aruch requires the acquirer or his/her deputy to do so. Sha”ch leans towards Shulchan Aruch’s ruling.

Practically, it is better not to have the seller or grantor to act on the acquirer’s behalf [Choshen Mishpat 200: 1, Sm”a. Sh”ach].



Beneficial Acquisitions

Detrimental Acquisitions

Standing inside the property & within reach, visual guard

Inherently Secured Property

Property as Hand







The Inanimate Agent

Even when one is not standing inside his/her property; under certain terms and  conditions, one can employ his/her property to  acquire an article on his/her behalf through the means of agency.

The Torah allows for the instrument of shlichus| agency, or power of attorney, whereby a principal can appoint an agent, (a separate entity) to perform (a) a beneficial and (b) a detrimental legal transactions on the principal’s behalf.

Additionally, even without receiving an official appointment, one could voluntarily assume the power of attorney to affect a (a) beneficial transaction for the principal without the principal’s awareness.

To affect a detrimental transaction, the agent must be specifically appointed by the principal.

Similarly, the Sages derive that one’s property can act as the owner’s voluntary inanimate agent to acquire beneficial acquisitions on his/her behalf.


What type of personal property can function as one’s legal inanimate agent?

Two Fundamental Factors


A legal agent must be an adult who has the mental capacity to protect the acquisition.

Similarly; to function as one’s inanimate agent the property must be inherently secured; enclosed on all sides even if it is not locked.

Alternatively, if the acquirer (or his/her deputy) is standing beside the property and can control what is happening therein, it would constitute an inherently secured property as well. (As opposed to sleeping next to one’s unprotected property whereby the property is not secured through his/her presence either.) [Nesivos].

Acquirer Controlled

In addition, the projected article of acquisition must be able to be controlled by the acquirer or his/her deputy. Even a property which is physically enclosed but in practice is freely accessible to others lacks the requisite requirements to function as the acquirer’s agent.


The acquirer’s rented property can function as his/her agent/hand as well, even if rented from the merchandise’s seller provided that the acquired merchandise is not intermingled with the seller’s belongings. Otherwise, the acquirer lacks sufficient control of the merchandise. The same would apply if the acquirer cannot completely control access to the property i.e. in an apartment building hallway.




Beneficial Acquisitions

Detrimental Acquisitions

Standing beside the Property

Inherently Secured Property

Property as Agent








Beneficial Acquisitions

Detrimental Acquisitions

Standing inside the property & within reach, visual guard

Inherently Secured Property

Property as Hand





Property as Agent








An individual’s utensils can function as his/her courtyard whereby enabling him/her to acquire articles placed within the utensils’ receptacle wherever the owner has permission to store the utensil. A flat utensils which lacks a receptacle is not similar to a “secure courtyard” and thereby cannot function as one to acquire articles placed upon it [Choshen Mishpat 200: 3, as explained by Nesivos].

Accordingly, an apartment building tenant would not acquire a phone book thrown upon his/her doormat; aside from the fact that the tenant generally does not control access to the doormat.



Invasion of Privacy

Rabbeinu Gershom (960 – 1028) was one of the earliest and greatest scholars of Ashkenazic Jewry, referred to as the last Gaon (the period before the Rishonim) and led the most prestigious center of Talmudic learning (Meintz, Germany) of the day. In his time there rose a need to enact a number of new edicts and bans. Failure to adhere to the edicts is punishable by social excommunication. They were accepted amongst the diaspora as binding to the degree of a Biblical Commandment. These enactments are referred to as Cherem D’Rabbeinu Gershom. While Rabbeinu Gershom was the leader of Ashkenazic Jewry, many of his bans were so authoritative that they were even accepted as law in the Sephardic and Eidot HaMizrach communities. (The ban on polygamy was not accepted in Yemen.)

Amongst such ordinances of Rabbeinu Gershom was a ban on opening and reading someone’s mail or private writings. This ensured the privacy and safety of mercantile transactions between Jewish communities [See Be’er HaGola Y.D. 334 where he lists many of the bans].

The Poskim explain that anything that the owner would want to keep private would be included in the ban. Thus, there is discussion as to the status of a postcard.


Accordingly, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt”l explained that reading someone’s email or wiretapping someone’s phone conversation is included in the ban. 

Even if multiple people share a common email account, if there is reason to suspect that the addressee would not want others to open mail addressed to him/her, then the “partners” may not open his/her mail [].


Opening Another’s Mailbox

  1. Is opening another’s mailbox included in this ban or is does this ban only include snooping into another’s private business e.g. hacking an email account, wiretapping another’s phone conversations?
  2. If there is reason to assume that the owner has sensitive information, or letters inside and would not want you discovering them in his/her mailbox, then doing so would also be included in the ban of Rabbeinu Gershom.

Whereas, simply pulling out a free flier which is hanging from his/her mailbox when there is no reason to suspect that other sensitive mail would fall out while doing so, would not constitute a transgression of Rabbeinu Gershom’s ban.



Five Additional Considerations:

Before considering taking material from your neighbor’s mailbox or from his/her doormat, one must consider the following five issues.

Ve’ahavta Le’reacha Kamocha

Even if the newspaper, circular, or phone book does not technically belong to your neighbor; by taking it for yourself, are you causing the distributer to have to issue them a new one? If so, then you either directly stole from, or indirectly damaged the distributer.

Even if the distributer would not be compelled to issue the neighbor a new one, if there is reason to believe that the tenant would be pained by not getting this week’s issue, then you transgressed ve’ahavta le’reacha kamocha, don’t treat your friend in a manner that you would not want to be treated if you were in his/her situation, by taking the publication for yourself.

Similarly, switching your dirty copy for the clean one in front of your neighbor’s door is definitely a transgression of ve’ahavta le’reacha kamocha. The same would apply to the distributer, if they would be motivated albeit not compelled to issue a new one, you transgressed ve’ahavta le’reacha kamocha.

If the neighbor would not mind, then you theoretically can take the circular from the mailbox. A subscription newspaper or a circular that the neighbor would want, you may not take.

Limdu Leshonam Daber Sheker

Another consideration; even if technically you can take the circular out of his mailbox, you should not do so in front of children or immature people or allow children or immature people to do so as such behavior will teach them to treat other people’s property with disrespect and cause them to sin. Similarly, one should not make a habit of taking things out of people’s mailboxes.

Both of these issues constitute a transgression of למדו לשונם דבר שקר. למדו לשונם דבר שקר is a prohibition against training oneself in deceitful behavior even if technically one can find legal loopholes [Maseches Sukkah 46b].


Dina Demalchusa: Local Law

One is required to adhere to local monetary laws enacted for the good of society [Rambam Hilchos Z’chiya Umatana 1: 15, Shu”t Chasam Sofer C.M. 44].

In the US, it is a felony to intentionally open anyone's mail or mailbox without their permission is a felony. However, if you have permission to check a neighbor's mail while they are away or intend to forward the contents of the mailbox, doing so is not a crime.

According to US Code, anyone who takes or opens another person's mail will either be fined or imprisoned. Mail theft can occur from a post office, private mail box or any other authorized receptacle. It is equally forbidden to tamper with someone's private mailbox as it is to tamper with a public mail receptacle. It is also illegal to buy or sell any item stolen from a mailbox.

Tampering with a mailbox in any way is illegal, reports the United States Postal Service. Mailboxes are only intended for postage-paid mail placed inside by an authorized mail carrier. The Sunday newspaper is the only exception, which is delivered on a day that regular mail does not arrive.

(It would seem that there is no adhered to law forbidding mail delivery in Israel from other mail carriers…)

Contemporary Social Propriety

Moshe Rabbeinu’s last words to the Jewish People encapsulates our rai·son d'ê·tre.

אַשְׁרֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִי כָמוֹךָ עַם נוֹשַׁע בַּי-הֹ-וָ-ה ... וְאַתָּה עַל בָּמוֹתֵימוֹ תִדְרֹךְ:

 “You are fortunate Yisrael, a people saved by Hashem…and you will tread upon their high places [Devarim 33: 29].

As the Chosen People [Shemos 19: 5], our mandate begins where their highest point of ethical achievements end [See Rav Schwab on Chumash pg. 580 based on Rav Hirsch on Shemos 19: 5].  

Accordingly, if a specific behavior is socially unacceptable, one is forbidden to act so, even if one can technically find a Halachic loophole to do so.


Chillul Hashem | Disgracing Hashem’s Name

Desecrating the respect for Hashem and His Torah in the eyes of our observers through subpar behavior is prohibited and has grave consequences [Ramabam Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 5: 10, 11 Rabbeinu Yona Sha’arei Teshuva 3; 113].

Abaye says that a student who absorbs Torah knowledge and practical guidance from Torah teachers and deals with others pleasantly, then people view his/her behavior as a reflection of the Torah he/she absorbed and praise the Torah and its teachers.

However, one who absorbs Torah knowledge and practical guidance from Torah teachers, but deals unpleasantly with others, then people then people view his/her behavior as a reflection of the Torah he/she absorbed and curse the Torah and its teachers.


Technically, there should be a difference between circulars and newspapers placed in a locked and a closed private mailbox (even if not locked) and between those placed in an unsecured mailbox in a communal area like in a standard Israeli apartment building.


A secured property which is “acquirer controlled” can acquire gifts or merchandise on the acquirer’s behalf without the acquirer needing to stand by.

For our purposes, a private mailbox which closes would be considered a secured property even if it does not lock [Nesivos].

On the other hand, an unsecured property can acquire gifts or merchandise on the owner’s behalf only if the property owner or his/her agent is standing inside (or according to some within arm’s reach).

If the grantor or his/her agent is standing by, according to Rema and Sm”a, it as though the acquirer would be standing beside it him/herself. Shulchan Aruch rules that it is insufficient and Sha”ch leans towards Shulchan Aruch’s approach. Thus, practically, it is questionable if the acquirer acquired the article if anyone other than the acquirer or his/her agent standing beside an unsecured property.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

We will assume that a newspaper tube mounted over an open lawn is an unsecured property; as it is open on its front side to the public.  

A “damaged mailbox” in which much of the mail hangs out, like in many older Israeli apartment buildings would be considered an unsecured property as well.

In addition, although, technically the unsecured mailbox is surrounded by walls, it is not acquirer controlled, as anyone in the building can access its contents.

Similarly, in an apartment building, although the stairwell and hallways are enclosed, but objects therein are generally not acquirer controlled; as anyone can get to them.

Even if the building was locked, any tenant can unrestrictively access the object sitting on another tenant’s doormat.

Thus, the hallway in front of one’s apartment door would not be considered acquirer controlled. As such, as long as the tenant does not stand beside the broken mailbox, or doormat, he/she cannot acquire the mail and the tenant will not acquirer a phone book dropped in front of his/her doorstep.

(In contrast; if mail is placed in the mail slot which falls inside a stairwell leading up to a second floor apartment in Flatbush, the tenant has acquired the mail. This is an example of a secured courtyard which is acquirer controlled.)

Moreover, a doormat is not a receptacle and therefore cannot function as a “utensil” of the tenant to enable the tenant to acquire the phonebook thrown upon it, aside from the fact that it is not acquirer controlled in an apartment building.

Even considering Rema’s view that it is sufficient for the seller/grantor or his deputy to stand by the acquirer’s unsecured property; is a newspaper boy riding his bike tossing the paper into the tube, or a delivery boy tossing the telephone book in front of the door, considered as though he is standing right next to the property and “securing the domain for the acquirer”?

Arguably, even a mailman or delivery boy, standing in front of the mailbox sticking the free circular into an unsecured mailbox would not even meet Rema’s allowance, because the delivery boy, is not acting as the grantor’s agent to  simply doing his job and could care less if the tenant “acquirers” the paper or not.

Certainly, according to Shulchan Aruch and Sha”ch, the tenant would not acquire the newspaper or circular by virtue of a mailbox which is not “acquirer controlled” if the said acquirer is not standing by.

Thus, technically the tenant has not acquired the phonebook, circular, newspaper if it is not placed into a closed private mailbox. As such, one would not be technically stealing from the tenant if he/she were to take the material for him/herself.


There are however numerous other major considerations however which must be addressed.

1) Stealing from the distributer 2) Breach of Privacy 3) Ve’ahavta Le’reacha Kamocha, 4) Limdu Leshonam Daber Sheker, 5) Dina Demalchusa: Local Law, 6) Contemporary Social Propriety 7) Chillul Hashem.

If the tenant has not technically acquired the publication, the distributer has already relinquished ownership of the publication,  taking it or rummaging through the mailbox does not constitute breaching the tenant’s privacy (Cherem d’ Rabbeinu Gershom), does not compromise on Ve’havta Le’reacha Kamocha, either to the tenant or the publisher, is not habit making or teaching immature people to be lax in their respect for honesty, does not constitute a transgression of local law, contemporary social propriety, or create a Chillul Hashem; then you are good to go!


[1] Common business practice to allow money to consummate an acquisition is a valid means of kinyan (if the item exists at the time of the payment) [Shu”t Shoel Umeishiv].

Contentious Kibbud Av Va'Eim & Marital Qualms     Issue #: Textbook 02

Contentious Kibbud Av Va’eim & Marital Qualms A Captivating Halachic & Hashkafic Appro ...

Contentious Kibbud Av Va’eim & Marital Qualms

A Captivating Halachic & Hashkafic Approach to Teen –Trouble Torah



Rabbi Yosef Y. Ettlinger









The Dilemmas:

  • May the young ladies vent about their mothers’ difficult natures with each other?
  • May a child have a political debate with a parent? If yes, when and how?
  • May a child debate about world outlook with a parent? If yes, when and how?
  • May a child defend herself against chronic critique from a parent? If yes, when and how?
  • What should a child do when a parent unfairly blasts individuals, groups of people, relatives, or siblings?
  • To whom do you obey, a parent or grandparent?
  • Do you defend your spouse from an attack from your/his parents?
  • What should you do if your parents contradict your chinuch approach?
  • How should you deal with this issue in front of your kids?
  • May a child confront the parent and explain to them how he/she verbally abused the child?
  • May you take a parent to Beis Din?
  • Mom & Dad disagree. To whom do I obey?
  • May a daughter pierce her Mother’s ears?
  • May you play tackle football, paintball, or rugby with your parent?
  • Do you honor a parent when it will cause the ex- pain?
  • Do you need to respect your parents if you hate living?
  • Offer some ideas how to begin appreciating a difficult life.
  • Does a child need to love an abusive parent?
  • What should a child do if a parent demands him or her to feed him dangerous food? May a child prevent the parent from acting destructively?


Table of Contents

The Dilemmas: 2

Contentious Kibbud Av va’eim Qualms. 7

Friday Night: The Magical Moment & Some Shabbos Inspiration. 9

Why My Auntie is Great! 13

Parent or Facebook Friend .... 14

Slap Her Five. 16

Duel and Debate. 16

A Heartwarming Story: Sauerkraut in Gan Eden. 20

Chronic Criticism.. 22

Meddling Mom.. 27

Picking Parents. 28

Priority Parent and Women’s Health. 29

Your Choice. 31

Therapist Trouble. 31

Self-Image Struggle. 33

The Dilemmas: 34

The Answer: 36

עשרת      הדברות :   פרשת  יתרו 36

עשרת      הדברות :   פרשת  ואתחנן 28

Reward & Punishment 29

A Story: Grandpa’s Shoe Laces. 29

The Secret to Longevity & A Halachic & Hashkafic Expose’ on Nursing. 30

Story: Nursing to Life. 35

Life Line: Prayer, Food, Parents & Eretz Yisrael Produce. 36

Time Investment Return. 39

Long Care Insurance Policy. 39

*. 39

A Three Dimensional Mitzvah. 39

The Chemistry Challenge. 1

Appreciating Life: a Pre-requisite to כבוד אב ואם. 3

Life Struggles: Self Esteem and Angels: Why Must I Suffer?. 4

My Personal Relationship with Hashem.. 5

Gratitude towards Humanity. 7

Discussion Point: 7

Gratitude Towards Parents. 8

Discussion Point: 9

Abandoned Child/Difficult Parents. 10

Respecting Irreligious/ Non Jewish Parents: 11

Frumming Out 12

כבוד: 12

בזיון: אסור. 12

Story: Survive & Thrive: Oma’s Story & The Birth of Project Fellow. 12

  1. Seven Kibbud Av Va’eim Mitzvos. 18
  2. Respect: To Respect the Parent: Tend to the Parent’s Needs (Subjective; i.e. Caring for their personal needs & Promoting their Stature) 18

In thought 18

In Deed. 18

שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף ב' 18

שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף ז' 19

Promoting Parent’s Stature. 19

Give Pleasure, Calm Nerves. 19

Music to their Hearts. 19

Give Nachas. 20

Eliyahu Hanavi’s Nachas Report 20

  1. Reverence: To Revere the Institution of Parenthood (Objective) 21
  2. Wounding: 21

Ear Piercing. 22

Hitting another Jew.. 22

Hitting a Parent 23

Tackle Football, Rugby, and Paintball 23

  1. Cursing: 24
  2. Pain/Anguish: Degrading Parents. 24
  3. Inner Disdain: The Generation Gap. 24

Disdain to Abusive Parent?. 25

General Bein Adam Lechaveiro Issues with Parents. 25

Maliciously Hitting a Fellow.. 25

Maliciously Hitting a Parent 25

Emotional Pain to another Jew.. 26

Respectful Effective Rebuke. 26

Peacefulness. 27

וְלֹא יִהְיֶה כְקֹרַח וְכַעֲדָתוֹ (במדבר י"ז: ה') 27

  1. Kibbud Av Va’eim Limitations. 27

Conflict with Torah Law.. 27

Example. 28

Rebuking a Parent 29

Seeking the Truth. 29

Political Debate: Depends upon the Approach. 30

Discussion Point: 30

Examples: 30

Parent’s Destructive Behavior 31

Discussion Point: Smoking & Gambling. 33

Point to Ponder: Unconditional Love. 33

Who Pays? Keep the Kidneys. 33

Why Always Me?. 35

Love. 35

Discussion Point: Loving the Abuser 36

Conflicting Orders. 36

Divorcees. 37

Dad Lets. 37

Dad Lets | Mom Doesn’t 37

Degree of Financial Investment 38

Degree of Personal Investment: Dating Choices. 38

Discussion Points: 40

The Rishon Letzion Rav Yitzchak Yosef: An Approach. 42

Food For Thought: Teenage Decision Making. 43

Self-Defense. 44

Unfounded Accusation: Setting the Record Straight 45

Self-Control 45

Protecting Mom.. 46

The Emotional Limit 46

Care for Parents vs. Getting Married. 47

Untenable Situation: 47

Grandparents. 48

Discussion Point 48

Respect for Elders. 48

Conflicts: Parent & Grandparent 49

In-Laws. 49

Spouse vs. Parent 50

Goal of Marital Relationship. 50

The Spirit of Marital Relationship. 51

The Harmony Recipe. 51

Marital Responsibilities. 52

Loving a Difficult Personality. 55

A Story: One Special Thing. 55

Lashon Hara & Venting. 57

Two Types of Lashon Hara. 57

Lashon Tov: Constructive Purpose. 57

Empathize but Don’t Believe It. 57




Contentious Kibbud Av va’eim Qualms.

Contradicting a parent is a transgression of [1]אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ.  Man shall revere his mother and father.

May 1st 2015 was a really exciting day in their lives: Miri and Dini both just received their driver’s licenses.

With their independence beginning to take shape; the two classmates celebrated together, by going out for lunch at Kinneret Pizza.  As they chattered from topic to topic, their conversation suddenly began to sound like this:

Miri: “When my dad comes home from work[2], we generally do not rise in his honor[3]; but that’s not because we don’t respect him. After all, it was Dad and Mom who gave us our greatest gift imaginable; life itself[4]; but it’s because he absolves us from having to outwardly display that formal degree of respect to him[5].

Though, in truth, on Friday night, when Dad comes home from shul, we do rise for him in light of Chazon

The Chazon Ish zt"l

Ish’s[6] ruling that parents should not always absolve children from displaying their due respect[7]. [8]

Did you know? The Chazon Ish who was known to never waste a second of his time, visited his elderly mother every day for one half hour! He walked in the dirt to get to her house in Bnei Braq.






Similarly, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l the great American-born Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, although racked with a debilitating Parkinson Disease and heading the largest Torah institution in the world would go to eat breakfast with his mother, Sara Finkel, the author of Classic Kosher Cooking, The Complete Yom Tov Cookbook and Simply Delicious, every Friday morning and share with her his experiences during the week. One of the greatest Roshei Yeshiva of our generation was not too great to eat breakfast with his mother every Friday.


Friday Night: The Magical Moment & Some Shabbos Inspiration

As a family, we chose Friday night to rise in his respect; for it is a particularly auspicious time to display honor to one’s parents.

On Friday night, the universe in all of its levels of existence comes back to its source[9] and aligns itself peacefully in order to regenerate and draw its life source for the next week. Hence, the custom for children to kiss their mother’s hands[10] and parents to bless their children on Friday night[11] as the family - the building blocks of society[12] unites as well.  

Why My Auntie is Great!

Tanchum grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended Public School. His father was a local Rabbi. He then attended Torah Vodaath in New York and subsequently married a girl from Toronto, Faigie. Faigie went to school in Bais Yaakov of Baltimore and then to Breuer’s Seminary.


A little while later, the young couple moved to Israel. Soon thereafter, Tanchum’s grandfather, a great Chassidic Rebbe passed away. Tanchum becomes the new Rebbe. Faigie becomes a young Rebbitzen. Years later, they lead a community in Bnei Braq. Faigie’s mother lives in an apartment next door to them. The Rebbe sets his mother-in law’s Shabbos clocks every week and never begins a seudas Shabbos without coming in and wishing his mother-in-law “Good Shabbos.”


It occurred at a wedding of one of her daughters. The entire community came to participate in the wedding. The chupa was held on a rooftop in Bnei Braq one evening. Rebbitzen Faigie walks her daughter down to the chupa wearing a coat. Her niece asks her to explain why she is wearing a coat when it’s not cold outside. She responds naturally, “Because Mom told me to!”


My Auntie is great. Not because she married a man who became a Chassidic Rebbe. My auntie is great because I’m sure it’s not easy to walk down the aisle in front of your congregants wearing a coat in warm weather. My auntie is great because she worked on herself to overcome her own feelings in order not to contradict her mother’s command. She worked on herself to feel natural and proud about fulfilling Mom’s request even if it might seem a bit silly or otherwise mortifying. And she did it without fanfare. It was a private and personal effort that was leaked to no one, other than to my inquisitive wife.


Indeed, it is such a magical moment. No matter what happened during the week, we cannot help but feel very special and loved.


Parent or Facebook Friend

Rav Moshe Feinstein

Although as I said, we generally follow Dad’s lead and forgo standing for him when he comes home during the week: we definitely do not call him by his first name Freddy[13], even though many of my Facebook friends do refer to their parents on a first name basis. Why you ask; if Dad doesn’t care, what’s the difference?

That’s because even though a parent could forgo specific displays of respect, the Torah does not give a parent the right to permit a child to disgrace him or her[14]. Calling a parent by his or her first name is a denial of the entire parenthood relationship[15] which is prohibited even if the parent does not mind[16]. [17]

What do they say?  “Gain a friend; lose a parent??” It’s disgraceful![18]


Slap Her Five

Parenthetically, slapping a parent is prohibited[19]. I wonder just, how Mom allowed us to “slap her five” when we were young.  For that matter could I have played tackle football, rugby, or paintball with my Dad on a day off?

A slap which causes no bruise is permitted if it is not done with malicious intent or in a degrading way.

Contact sports with a parent that run a probable risk of inflicting a wound is forbidden even if the parent permits.


Duel and Debate

But then comes the main course and all respect seems to dissipate into thin air. Our Shabbos table invariably spirals into a heated debate session with each one of us trying to solve the world's problems. On one hand it’s a time when we get to know each other. On the other hand, tensions often fly out of control.”

The challenge: My mother is unfortunately a bitter person and as result has a skewed view of the world[20]. She is very outspoken and forceful in her views. She can convince you that white is black and believes everyone’s got to view the world like she does or else they are nuts.

This puts me at odds with her almost every time she expresses an opinion in front of me.

Does that mean that I cannot have a political/social debate with my Mom? Must I vote like her? Should I just sit mum when she unfairly blasts individuals, groups of people, and relatives? Sometimes I get the feeling like the mitzvah of kibbud av va’eim is a mitzvah for Moshiach’s time!  Am I doomed to remain silent during my entire childhood because of my mother’s temperament?”


Disagreeing respectfully when the focus is to unearth the truth is permitted. Similarly, if parents want to hear your opinion, it is fine to respectfully state your opinion.

Defiance, arguing for the sake of arguing, or just out of emotional spats, or arguments motivated by a subconscious rebelliousness against authority[21] or mesorah is prohibited.

Thus, if your perception of truth brings you to a conclusion different than your parents’ viewpoint with regards for whom to vote, you would not transgress Kibbud Av for respectfully stating or voting per your conscious.

If the issue is mere style; when your vote will actually make a difference, like in a shul board setting, the child should ask a competent Halachic authority how to proceed, as causing parents pain could be more serious. Similarly, publicly disagreeing with a parent may be a Chillul Hashem.

(It goes without saying that if your parent is voting for a board member who has an anti-Torah agenda then it would be forbidden to vote like your parent and if your choice has an anti-Torah agenda then it would be forbidden to vote your choice.)   

In the same vein, respectfully pointing out that the facts are not as the parent believes them to be is not disrespectful. (Thus, a child can defend him/herself respectfully, from a false accusation from a parent.)

So if your dad says 1+1=3, you could politely and respectfully say something like this, “Dad, The way I see things 1+1=2.[22]

What is disrespectful is to disagree (even in a nice manner) with a parent’s judgement or reasoning [Rav Yitzchak Yosef Shlita].

If your parent is interested in hearing your position on things; to respectfully contradict the parent is permitted even when one’s motivation is not because of a drive to uncover the truth. 


Unfairly blasting individuals, groups of people, and relatives is sinful. When a parent errs, a child, like any other individual must respectfully rebuke the sinner.

Of course, it must be done in an effective manner and much strategy and tact must be invested in that effort. Instead of bluntly pointing out the parent’s wrongdoing, the child should rather say the right things so that the parent realizes his/her mistaken behavior on his/her own.

Perhaps something like this might work: “Mom, I know that you love me and do not want to harm me, but it hurts me to hear Bubby being blasted like that.” 



A Heartwarming Story: Sauerkraut in Gan Eden

Here’s a powerful and uplifting story about the greatness a Jew can achieve.


The holy Maggid of Mezritch,(D 1772) the disciple of the Baal Shem Tov had a number of great students. Among them was Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740-1809) and his good friend Rav Moshe Leib Erblich of Sassov (1745–1807).


Rav Levi Yitzchak was known to always find the good in every Jew. He would see a Jew wearing tefillin wallowing in the mud fixing his horse and wagon and exclaim to Hashem, “Look at your special people, even when they are in the mud, they wear tefillin.”


Rav Moshe Leib had a great desire to spend Shabbos in Rav Levi Yitzchak’s company. He decided to finally make the trip to Berditchev. He boarded a horse and buggy and set out to Berditchev.


“To what do I owe this special visit?” asked R Levi Yitzchok.


“I have been yearning for so long to spend Shabbos Kodesh in your presence and I finally built up the courage to come.


“You could have come any Shabbos. It would have been so beautiful; but this Shabbos? This Shabbos, I will not be home.”

“Where will you be?”


“There is an old poor childless couple who live in a dilapidated house far out and I’m spending Shabbos there.”

“May I come along?”


“Sure but you know R Moshe Leib, there is a mitzvah to eat good food on Shabbos, but this couple barely has any food.”


“To spend Shabbos with R Levi Yitzchok, it’s worth it.”

 “R Moshe Leib, but you know that there is a mitzvah to sleep on Shabbos Kodesh, but by this couple they have no beds. You will have to sleep on the dirt floor.”

“To spend a Shabbos Kodesh with R Levi Yitzchak, it’s worth it.”


The two holy sages set out on the journey and arrived at their destination.

How elated was the lonely couple to receive two great sages in their humble abode!


Kabbalas Shabbos, Kiddush, Hamotzi elevated song…and then the woman brings out the food. R Moshe Leib takes one whiff of the food and almost vomits.


Sauerkraut….spoiled sauerkraut…the stench gets more difficult to bear.


“Holy Rebbes, I saved this sauerkraut since Pesach…awaiting an opportunity to serve it to special guests…When I heard that you were coming for Shabbos, I decided to eagerly prepare this special dish for you.


The putrid food is carefully passed to R Moshe Leib…and R Moshe Leib passed it to Rav Levi Yitzchok to “take first.”


Rav Levi Yitzchok takes a serving of the spoiled sauerkraut and screams out exuberantly, “Gan Eden, Gan Eden! Gan Eden, Gan Eden!”


R Moshe Leib is ever perturbed. At a quiet moment after the seuda, Rav Moshe Leib asks, “R Levi Yitzchok! I have seen many miracles in my life, but this one is beyond the charts! How did you transform this putrid spoiled sauerkraut into a taste of Gan Eden?”


“My dear friend R Moishe, did you see this wonderful poor childless couple before your eyes? When did they ever have a chance to give in their lives? All they ever did was take! They finally, have the opportunity to give, and I would shame the woman? She would never forget this shaming all her life! Imagine the hell that I would receive for shaming this Jewess! Imagine the Gan Eden I will receive by making this woman feel human! This feeling will empower her for the rest of her life!


R Moishe, It’s worth enduring all of the Gehinom in this World not to shame another Jew. I took a portion of the putrid smelling spoiled sauerkraut and just imagined the immeasurable Gan Eden that Hashem just prepared for me!


It’s worth enduring all of the Gehinom in this World not to shame another Jew[23].”


Chronic Criticism

 “Funny that you say that Miri”, responded Dini. “Your Mom sounds a lot like my Mom. It’s so hard for me to deal with her.”[24]

“My mother has severe insecurities and views the world in an extremely negative vein … and she’s from the old school and will never contemplate seeking help; so she’s doomed.

Whenever I am in her presence[25] I feel like a bad person[26]. I know that I am good, because I am respected amongst good friends[27].

When I defend my stance against her chronic criticism, I feel as though I am battling for my emotional survival. I wish that I did not have to contradict her and become confrontational.

I respect the "institution" of motherhood, but frankly; I fail to respect her as a person.”


She may respectfully stand up for herself, if the abuse is destroying her emotionally. Otherwise, if she has the emotional stability to remain silent, she must do so and understand that she is earning limitless reward for the self-control. When one respects his/her parent he/she connects him/herself to Life Source and the flow of life.

 The Talmud rules that while a child must inconvenience him/herself to respect/revere a parent, he/she is not required to pay out-of-pocket for the mitzvah of respecting/revering parents[28].

The Poskim rule that similarly, a child is not required to drastically alter his/her identity/life to fulfill the mitzvah of kibbud av.

The Sefer HaChinuch qualifies the mitzvah of Kibbud Av as an expression of gratitude to the ones who gave you your life. It follows that the greatest expression of gratitude is to use the life they gave you and develop yourself to your fullest potential. Slaughtering your life on the altar of kibbud av is a far cry from using your life to its fullest potential [Rav Yitzchak Berkovits].

Thus, if revering your irrational parent will destroy you emotionally, you may respectfully stand up for yourself and begin rebuilding your self-image, living the life that your parents gave you, to fulfill its greatest potential instead of being ungrateful and ripping up your life back in their faces. Moreover, the respect due to your parents is because they gave you the physical life which encases your G-d given soul. Respecting your parents brings you to respect G-d. Sacrificing your soul and personality to respect those who gave you your body is counterintuitive.

Meddling Mom

Miri and Dini had been speaking a bit louder than they intended to speak … for apparently the three married women sitting at the next table overheard their conversation.

“Girls, I apologize for interjecting into a conversation not my own, but your issues seem awfully familiar to mine,” said Elky Greenberg.

“I’m constantly struggling with how to deal with my critical Mom. What do I do and how do I deal with her?  When she attacks my spouse or my kids, what can I do? What do I do when she contradicts my husband's parenting in front of my children? My kids have a mitzvah to listen to their parents before their grandparents[29], but how can we demand kibbud av when they see us and our parents at war with each other? Whichever way we go we are stuck!”

The best chinuch for kibbud av, is when children watch their parents honor their parents! Abarbanel writes: “If you respect your parents; your children will respect you.”

Although, technically; a child‘s primary responsibility is towards his/her parent before his/her grandparent, when a child sees that his/her parent is willing to forgo the way he/she wants to do things in order to respect his/her parents; the long term lesson will be profound.

2) If a parent requests a task of a child and at the same time a grandparent makes a request, the child should oblige the parent first.

If, however, they were all in the same room at the time, and thus the father would be obligated to heed the request of his parent, the grandchild should indeed attend to the grandparent’s request first. (See Shu”t Teshuva M’Ahava Siman 178)

What if they disagree on chinuch tactics for the grandchildren?



Picking Parents

And for good measure, I’ll throw in two curve balls to this conversation,” interjected the second married woman, Aviva Steinberg.

“Five years before I got married, my Mom and Dad ceased to live together. Sick of living in the shadow of all the animosity, I moved out on my own and began renting an apartment with a number of single friends. I always felt that honoring one parent often caused the other one pain. I never knew what to do.”

And for that matter, continued Aviva, “To whom should my kids listen to when I disagree with my husband?”


Priority Parent and Women’s Health

If Devora’s father says; “please take me for a walk now” and her Mother says, “please drive me to the mall now”.

Devora can choose to whom to obey first.

If Devora’s father says, “please take me for a walk now” and her mother says, “please give me my meds now”.

Devora tends to her mother first. Why?

Since a husband as is required to heal[30] his wife[31]. Therefore, daughter gives mother meds before taking father for walk.

Devora’s Dad says, “Please give me a cup of water this second.”

And her mother orders her to give her a cup of water this second.

Since the wife is required to serve water to her husband, Devora must give water to father first before serving her mother.

Your Choice

When parents are divorced, there are no responsibilities from one ex-spouse to the other, hence the daughter can choose each time who to honor even if it comes at the expense of the other parent.

Thus, Elky Greenberg could choose whichever of her divorced parents to honor even if it comes at the expense of the other.

For that matter, even when the two parents are married; the child can choose to whom to listen to if the conflicting orders do not encroach on the responsibilities from one spouse to the other.

For example, Dad orders you to straighten out your room now and Mom says take the kids to the park now.

Obey the one you wish to obey (with the intent of honoring him/her).

Therapist Trouble

And for the cherry on top: “My therapist has tried to convince me to finally confront my parents and explain to them how they verbally abused me. But maybe all of their alleged “abuse” was really just my skewed perception of things. She insists that I do not have to love them either.

Her suggestions seem to conflict with the mitzvah of kibbud av.”

Watch out! The path to gehinom is paved with good intentions. Is your therapist proficient in the laws of kibbud Av? It’s quite common that she does not[32].

Your objective is to heal, not necessarily to set your parents straight…yet there is a mitzvah of hocheich tochiach, if it could be effective; but it must be done respectfully and in a non-confrontational manner.

It is vitally important to point out that while there are times when parents have seriously abused children; many many times, there have been misunderstandings, some small and some big, between parents and children and no maliciousness was intended.


Zaidy and Bubby Greenberg have 2 married sons and one married daughter. They love spending time at their daughter’s home and began going to them every Yom Tov. The sons are upset. “We want Zaidy and Bubby to come to us. Our children deserve a chance to get to know their grandparents as well.” They would transgress a biblical commandment by telling Zaidy and Bubby off if it will cause them tza’ar.


Self-Image Struggle

Shira Goldstein was the last married woman to toss in her “spices to the contentious kibbud av va’eim qualms chulent.”

“Girls, I’ll tell you that when I was a teenager, I had a completely different challenge with kibbud av va’eim. My parents were both such wonderful parents. I always felt that they had my best interest in mind. In fact, when I was learning how to pierce ears, my Mom even let me try it on her!

My issue stemmed from a wholly different angle. We were taught in school that we must honor our parents because they gave us the greatest gift of all, our life. And there were times in my life when I truly was overfilled with feelings of gratitude towards them, like right now!

But mind you, when I was going through a tough stage socially and was struggling with a shattered self-esteem, I sometimes wished I wasn’t alive and then wondered what “special gift” my parents gave me for which I must display gratitude to them. It was a struggle to say the least. Not only did I not appreciate the gift of life that they gave me, but at times I was filled with anger at the fact that they brought me into this world to have to suffer so much.”



What’s the Halacha?


The Dilemmas:

  • May the young ladies vent about their Mothers’ difficult natures with each other?
  • May a child have a political debate with a parent? If yes, when and how?
  • May a child debate about world outlook with a parent? If yes, when and how?
  • May a child defend herself against chronic critique from a parent? If yes, when and how?
  • What should a child do when a parent unfairly blasts individuals, groups of people, relatives, or siblings?
  • To whom do you obey, a parent or grandparent?
  • Do you defend your spouse from an attack from your/his parents?
  • What should you do if your parents contradict your chinuch approach?
  • How should you deal with this issue in front of the kids?
  • May a child confront the parent and explain to them how he/she verbally abused the child?
  • May a daughter pierce her Mother’s ears?
  • May you play tackle football, paintball, or rugby with your parent?
  • Mom and Dad give conflicting orders. To whom do you obey?
  • Do you honor a parent when it will cause the ex- pain?
  • Do you need to respect your parents if you hate living?
  • Offer some ideas how to begin appreciating a difficult life.
  • Does a child need to love an abusive parent?
  • What should a child do if a parent demands him or her to feed him dangerous food? May a child prevent the parent from acting destructively?


What’s the Halacha?



The Answer:

Before we address these specific dilemmas, we must preface our approach with an underlying appreciation of the 1) opportunity and 2) gravity of honoring and respecting one’s parents (in fact the fifth of the עשרת הדברות), which encompasses one of the fundamental axioms of the Torah, - even when doing so poses inconveniences. We will then discuss the requirements and limitations of the mitzvah.


עשרת      הדברות :   פרשת  יתרו

אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים.

לֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל פָּנָי, לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה לְךָ פֶסֶל וְכָל תְּמוּנָה אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וַאֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת וַאֲשֶׁר בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ. לֹא תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לָהֶם וְלֹא תָעָבְדֵם, כִּי אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ אֵ-ל קַנָּא, פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבֹת עַל בָּנִים עַל שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל רִבֵּעִים לְשׂנְאָי, וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לַאֲלָפִים לְאֹהֲבַי וּלְשֹׁמְרֵי מִצְוֹתָי.

לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת שֵׁם ה' אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ לַשָּׁוְא, כִּי לֹא יְנַקֶּה ה' אֵת אֲשֶׁר יִשָּׂא אֶת שְׁמוֹ לַשָּׁוְא.

זָכוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ. שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ, וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה' אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ. לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ וּבְהֶמְתֶּךָ וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ. כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה ה' אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ, אֶת הַיָּם וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר בָּם, וַיָּנַח בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, עַל כֵּן בֵּרַךְ ה' אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת וַיְקַדְּשֵׁהוּ.


כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר ה' אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ.

לֹא תִרְצַח.


לֹא תִנְאָף.


לֹא תִגְנֹב.


לֹא תַעֲנֶה בְרֵעֲךָ עֵד שָׁקֶר.


לֹא תַחְמֹד בֵּית רֵעֶךָ. לֹא תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ וְשׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶך




עשרת      הדברות :   פרשת  ואתחנן

אָנֹכִי יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים:

לֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל פָּנָי: לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה לְךָ פֶסֶל כָּל תְּמוּנָה אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וַאֲשֶׁר בָּאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת וַאֲשֶׁר בַּמַּיִם מִתַּחַת לָאָרֶץ: לֹא תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לָהֶם וְלֹא תָעָבְדֵם כִּי אָנֹכִי יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ אֵל קַנָּא פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וְעַל שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל רִבֵּעִים לְשֹׂנְאָי: וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לַאֲלָפִים לְאֹהֲבַי וּלְשֹׁמְרֵי (מצותו) מִצְוֹתָי:

 לֹא תִשָּׂא אֶת שֵׁם יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לַשָּׁוְא כִּי לֹא יְנַקֶּה יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֵת אֲשֶׁר יִשָּׂא אֶת שְׁמוֹ לַשָּׁוְא:

שָׁמוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוְּךָ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ: וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כָל מְלָאכָה אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ וְעַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתֶךָ וְשׁוֹרְךָ וַחֲמֹרְךָ וְכָל בְּהֶמְתֶּךָ וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יָנוּחַ עַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתְךָ כָּמוֹךָ: וְזָכַרְתָּ כִּי עֶבֶד הָיִיתָ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וַיֹּצִאֲךָ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ מִשָּׁם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה עַל כֵּן צִוְּךָ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת:

כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוְּךָ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִיכֻן יָמֶיךָ וּלְמַעַן יִיטַב לָךְ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ:


לֹא תִרְצַח:

וְלֹא תִנְאָף:

וְלֹא תִגְנֹב:

וְלֹא תַעֲנֶה בְרֵעֲךָ עֵד שָׁוְא:

וְלֹא תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ וְלֹא תִתְאַוֶּה בֵּית רֵעֶךָ שָׂדֵהוּ וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ שׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָ:



דברים ה: ו-ח"י



Reward & Punishment                                                             

The Torah promises אריכת ימים for properly fulfilling the mitzvah of Kibbud Av Va’eim.

A Story: Grandpa’s Shoe Laces

In Poland, the place of his birth, on his own initiative he arose at 4 am every morning to tie his elderly grandfather’s shoes, enabling him to go to morning prayers at sunrise, and would then ask to join him at those prayers. His grandfather predicted that this boy will grow to be one of the greatest leaders of the Jewish people. He was then 5 years old. He and his family immigrated to New York City.  He went to public school until age 14. He lived until 101.

He and his wife became one of the greatest Jews in our generation. Lefty Scheinberg of the Lower East Side, worked diligently to become Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt”l. Such was the schar of אריכת ימים realized in our days.

This is a unique instance where the Torah actually specifies part of the reward for fulfilling a mitzvah.

Generally, the reward in עולם הבא for mitzvah observance is beyond explanation[33]. We lack the frame of reference to comprehend its greatness. The Torah simply tells us in code form numerous places, such as like this;

שְׁמֹר וְשָׁמַעְתָּ אֵת כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּךָּ לְמַעַן יִיטַב לְךָ וּלְבָנֶיךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ עַד עוֹלָם כִּי תַעֲשֶׂה הַטּוֹב וְהַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינֵי יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ: (דברים י"ב:כ"ח)

“Safeguard and listen to all these matters that I command you, in order that it be well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and what is right in the Eyes of Hashem, your G-d.”


Kibbud av Va’eim though, is different.

In fact, each morning when we recite ברכת התורה we say -

אֵלּוּ דְבָרִים שֶׁאָדָם אוכֵל פֵּרותֵיהֶם בָּעולָם הַזֶּה וְהַקֶּרֶן קַיֶּמֶת לו לָעולָם הַבָּא. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם.

“These are the things that one benefits from their fruits in this world but their principal remains intact for him in the World to Come. Kibbud Av Va’eim etc.”

So let us try to get some idea of the special benefits Hashem gives in this world for Kibbud Av Va’eim.


The Secret to Longevity & A Halachic & Hashkafic Expose’ on Nursing.

When a baby is born, although the baby has entered our world, he or she is far from developed.

This is true on a physical, emotional, developmental and spiritual level. Instead, the mother and father continue to imbue the child with new dimensions of life.

This in fact, is one of the Kabbalistic concepts of nursing a baby.

Why does a calf nurse from the lower part of the cow’s body, whereas a human being nurses from the upper part of the mother’s body and faces the mother’s face?

The Holy Books tell us that whereas a cow gives merely physical sustenance to the calf, the human mother provides emotional and spiritual sustenance to the child. While nursing, the child feels mother’s heartbeats and beholds her visage. Mother imbues her child with all of the goodness she bears.

Nursing is an incredible opportunity to enhance the spiritual capacity and emotional wellbeing of the child, hence the baby is held close to the heart[34] and head, facing the mother’s face.

In fact, according to the Arizal, a mother should try to nurse for the first two years of the child’s life [Ben Ish Chai 2 Emor 13].

This indeed the understanding behind why Moshe Rabbeinu would not nurse from בת פרעה[35].

The nature of the food, both in terms of quality and kashrus affects the child physically[36] and spiritually[37].

In the same vein, the Holy Books explain how a nursing mother can adversely affect the child emotionally when she is angry[38].

Most certainly, then, if the mother has positive emotions[39] during the nursing process it will bode well for the infant. Knowing this alone, is a good impetus for a mother to work on feeling positive emotions while nursing her baby.

No wonder that the Navi makes it a point to stress that while Chana pledged to dedicate Shmuel to the Beis HaMikdash, to grow great under the tutelage of the Gadol HaDor, Eli HaKohein; it would not be before she spent the two formative years of Shmuel’s life nursing him.

As the Pasuk says;

וְחַנָּה לֹא עָלָתָה כִּי אָמְרָה לְאִישָׁהּ עַד יִגָּמֵל הַנַּעַר וַהֲבִאֹתִיו וְנִרְאָה אֶת פְּנֵי יְ-ה-וָ-ה וְיָשַׁב שָׁם עַד עוֹלָם[40]:

“And Chana did not join the tri-annual pilgrimage [to the Temple] for she said, let me stay back until the child is weened and then I will bring him and we will behold G-d’s Glory and he will dwell there for fifty years.”

Clearly, she understood that while she could substitute his absorption of knowledge and the roadmap to piety from Elkana her great husband, with that of the Gadol HaDor, Eli HaKohein; nursing was a stage in his development that was indispensable. No one could substitute her input into Shmuel for her.

There was nothing holier for Shmuel than for Chana herself to nurse him for the first two years of his life.

On Friday night, during Kabbalas Shabbos we compare Shmuel to Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohein.

 מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן בְּכֹהֲנָיו וּשְׁמוּאֵל בְּקֹרְאֵי שְׁמוֹ קֹרִאים אֶל יְ-ה-וָ-ה וְהוּא יַעֲנֵם[41]

  “Moshe and Aharon in their priesthoods and Shmuel – calling Hashem’s name, called out to Hashem and He answered them.”

The greatness Shmuel Hanavi attained in 52 years was in some form comparable to the unfathomable greatness achieved by Moshe’s[42] 120 and Aharon’s 123 years respectively.

Imagine! All of Shmuel Hanavi’s indescribable accomplishments during his life were predicated on the two years Chana held him close to her heart and nursed him face to face.

How interesting that both Moshe and Shmuel’s nursing experience was sacred. We could imagine that Aharon received such a gift as well!


Story: Nursing to Life

Emergency! Mrs. X has to be rushed to the hospital. Who will take care of her new infant? Drop her off by young Miriam Solomon, a very resourceful young kollel wife in Gateshead. Mrs. X ends up staying for 6 weeks in the hospital. Miriam nurses her own infant as well as Mrs. X's for six weeks.

Mrs. Solomon becomes Rebbitzen Solomon a”h, late wife of yblch”t Rav Mattisyahu Solomon Shlita, Mashgiach of Lakewood, NJ

Flash ahead decades later. An alert goes out in Lakewood NJ.  A child is week and ill and the doctors prescribe a significant daily dosage of mother’s milk as the only way for survival. Infant’s mother has an insufficient supply. Can anyone help? “Shani” replies to the appeal that she is willing to provide her milk for the baby. Soon it became apparent that Shani was Mrs. X’s daughter from Gateshead whom Rebbitzen Solomon nursed to life. The infant in Lakewood was Rebbitzen Miriam Solomon’s granddaughter.  (Heard at the nichum aveilim of the Rebbitzen a”h by my father shlita)



Life Line: Prayer, Food, Parents & Eretz Yisrael Produce

In truth, the Holy Books explain that parents continue to effect a flow of spiritual dimensions of life to their children even after they are weened.

In each שמונה עשרה before we begin to ask Hashem for new dimensions of life, we invoke the names of our Avos.

By acknowledging our relationship with our אבות ; yearning to follow their examples of developing a personal bond[43] with Hashem Yisborach, we are making ourselves compatible to accept the flow of bracha, Hashem showers upon us through our אבות .  

As Hashem promised Avraham in Parshas Lech Lecha;

 וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ וֶהְיֵה בְּרָכָה: (בראשית י"ב: ב')

And I will make you into a great nation, bless you, make your name great and you will be a conduit of blessing.”

In a most fascinating way, we experience a similar concept each time we eat food. Taking an apple in our hand, we open our spiritual digestive system to draw eternal sustenance from the spirituality in the apple by recognizing G-d’s Hand in its creation by reciting a ברכה[44].

For the Torah[45] tells us in Parshas Eikev,

כי לֹא עַל הַלֶּחֶם לְבַדּוֹ יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם כִּי עַל כָּל מוֹצָא פִי יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם:,

“For man does not live on bread alone, rather on that which emanates from G-d’s Mouth…”

It is not simply the physical nutrients in the food that sustains us, but rather the spirituality, the Word of G-d which gives us life.

[Parenthetically, different foods carry in them varying gradient levels of spirituality. The   שבעת המינים from Eretz Yisrael have so much accessible spirituality in them that we actually pray for the opportunity to ingest them properly.

Hence; after eating the [46]שבעת המינים and snack-foods or non-bread foods made from the five grains[47], we implore Hashem that He bring us back to Eretz Yisrael where we can once again absorb the spirituality encased in her fruits, as the bracha goes

 והעלנו לתוכה ושמחנו בבניינה, ונאכל מפריה ונשבע מטובה, ונברכך עליה בקדושה ובטהרה

“Let us be satiated from its goodness[48].”

Satiated from its goodness, means from its inherent spiritual treasure trove[49].

In the same vein, Hashem enables us the opportunity to continue absorbing more dimensions of physical and spiritual life and bracha by respecting and revering the source of our lives, our parents[50].[i]

As the Pasuk says,

כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר יְ-ה-וָֹ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ: (שמות כ: י"ב)

“Honor your father and mother so that you will merit long days upon the earth that Hashem your G-d gives to you.”

By respecting our parents, we will connect to their life-line and Hashem will make blessings of life flow through them to us.



Aside from the increased dimensions of living one merits by honoring parents, the commentators shed additional light into the blessings of “arichas yamim” earned through Kibbud Av Va’eim.

Here are some examples:


Time Investment Return


הגאון רבי יוסף חיים זוננפלד באר, כי השכר הוא בסוף ימיו, כדי להשלים את השעות שהחסיר בגלל כבוד אב ואם! לכן לא יחוס אדם על הזמן הרב, שפעמים מצוה זו דורשת ממנו, ועל "ביטול תורה" שכביכול נגרם לו, מאחר והקב"ה יחזיר לו את הזמן הזה, וכבר אמר הקב"ה (דברים רבה ד) : "שמעו לי, שאין אדם שומע לי - ומפסיד", וה' לא ימנע טוב להולכים בתמים. (עלינו לשבח)


Kibbud Av Va’eim often takes time. Hashem therefore promises long life for Kibbud Av Va’eim; as if to say; “Do not worry about the time you spend caring for your parents; I will ensure that you do not lose out time because of your kSonnenfeld zt”l].



Long Care Insurance Policy


וכן כותב רבנו יצחק אברבנאל: מה שאמרה התורה "למען יאריכון ימיך", זו אינה רק הבטחת שכר, אלא לומר לאדם: הלוא אף אתה - יאריכון ימיך על האדמה, גם אתה בעצמך תהיה אבא לילדים, וגם אתה תגיע לגיל כזה, שבו תזדקק לבניך. אם אתה תכבד את אביך ואת אמך - אף בניך יכבדו אותך בזקנותיך, כי הנה במידה שאדם מודד בה מודדים לו! ואם כן כיבוד אב ואם אינו רק לתועלת הזקנים המכובדים, כי אם גם לתועלת הבן המכבד אותם, כי גלגל הוא שחוזר בעולם.


The Heavenly Court treats people in a way that they treat others.

One who is scrupulous about caring for his parents will one day grow old and merit that his children will care for him [Abarbanel].



A Three Dimensional Mitzvah

כבוד אב ואם is a unique mitzvah.

On one hand, it is a מצוה בין אדם לחבירו.

On another hand, it is the fifth commandment of the מצוות בין אדם למקום on the לוחות הברית.

And in yet another dimension, it forces us to zero in on the blessing of life, appreciate it, and its source – as difficult as the challenges life brings us may be – it is a מצוה בין אדם לעצמו and when approached correctly can greatly enhance the overall emotional wellbeing of the individual.

Kibbud Av Va’eim is an exercise in basic humility which enables us to come to respect and revere our Father in Heaven[51]. It is the basis for developing the character trait of appreciating the good in life and attributing its blessing to its source, known as הכרת הטוב which is the central pillar propelling one to fulfill his/her Divine mandate on this sojourn.

The Chemistry Challenge

The practical challenge though for many of us is that while the concept of kibbud av va’eim sounds very blissful; the temperaments and personalities, the chemistry between many parents and children often create compounding and frustrating difficulties on the ground.

So what do we do?

Instead of throwing in the towel, and giving up on this incredible mitzvah opportunity, let us identify what exactly is included in the mitzvos of kibbud av va’eim, what is excluded from the mitzvah and how Halacha suggests that we deal with situations of challenging child/parent chemistry.

It might actually come as a surprise to some of us, but even the Gemara addresses how to deal with challenging child-parent relationships.


1)   We will identify in which ways a child must display respect and reverence to parents, which ways is it optional to display respect and reverence to parents and in what ways is it often simply good advice to do so.

2)   While we will see that at times there may be room for moderated flexibility when dealing with parents who have difficult personalities or who severely compromise the financial/emotional stability of their children or when listening to them potentially conflicts with Torah Law, each particular case has to be weighed independently and dealt with in a respectful, focused, and strategic manner.

Knowing that there is room for flexibility in particularly difficult situations enables us to approach the topic with a level headedness appreciating that we are not always “perpetually stuck”.

On the other hand, must also understand that not every inconvenience for a teenager is considered severely compromising his/her emotional stability and if so, the מצוה of kibbud av va’eim remains albeit a challenge. But don’t worry, the reward is beyond comprehension.

3)   In addition, we will see that there may be flexibility in terms of respectfully disagreeing with one’s parents when the parties involved are seeking the truth. This is by far not a license though to indiscriminately defy one’s parent’s opinion or directive.

4)   We will also see that even when one is permitted to disagree with a parent, stand up for oneself, or not required to listen to a parent, it must be done respectfully.


Appreciating Life: a Pre-requisite to כבוד אב ואם

We will learn that respecting and revering parents is an expression of appreciation to those who are responsible for giving us the greatest gift; the gift of life.

However, this notion raises great questions for those of us who have experienced such misery in our lives that at times we wish we were better off not being alive. If these thoughts are racing through our minds then the ones who brought us all of this unwarranted misery is none other than our parents. The potential anger and resentment towards one’s parents in this situation is understandable.

So before we address the subject of כבוד אב ואם, it is crucial for us to begin to appreciate the value of life.

The echoes of our inner struggle to appreciate lives wrought with challenge have been expressed by Ramchal[52] in the 1700’s[ii].



ותראה באמת שכבר לא יוכל שום בעל שכל להאמין שתכלית בריאת האדם הוא למצבו בעולם הזה, כי מה הם חיי האדם בעולם הזה, או מי הוא ששמח ושליו ממש בעולם הזה. ימי שנותינו בהם שבעים שנה ואם בגבורות שמונים שנה ורהבם עמל ואון, (תהלים צ, י), בכמה מיני צער וחלאים ומכאובים וטרדות, ואחר כל זאת, המות.

In truth no sensible person can truly believe that the purpose of man’s creation is for his/her physical state in this world. For most of a person’s life on this world are fraught with stress and hardships, agony, sickness, pain and nuisances and after that death!




ולא עוד אלא שאם תכלית בריאת האדם היה לצורך העולם הזה, לא היה צריך מפני זה שתנופח בו נשמה כל כך חשובה ועליונה שתהיה גדולה יותר מן המלאכים עצמם, כל שכן שהיא אינה מוצאה שום נחת רוח בכל עינוגי זה העולם.

Moreover, if the end-purpose for which we were created was to enjoy this world, there would be no necessity to infuse in our bodies such an important and supreme spiritual leveled soul which transcends the level of angels.


אלא בריאתו של האדם, למצבו בעולם הבא היא. ועל כן ניתנה בו נשמה זאת, ... ובה יוכל האדם לקבל השכר במקומו וזמנו...והנה אחר שידענו זה, נבין מיד חומר המצוות אשר עלינו ויקר העבודה אשר בידינו, כי הנה אלה הם האמצעים המביאים אותנו אל השלמות האמיתי, אשר בלעדם לא יושג כלל, ואולם ידוע כי אין התכלית מגיע אלא מכח קיבוץ כל האמצעים אשר נמצאו ואשר שימשו להגיעו. וכפי כח האמצעים ושימושם, כן יהיה התכלית הנולד מהם.

Rather man was created to bask in eternal goodness in the world to come, where his/her soul will have earned ecstasy based upon the fulfillment of mitzvos and service of G-d, he/she did while the soul was incased in his/her physical body. The degree of ecstasy is contingent upon the degree of service performed in this dimension of existence



Life Struggles: Self Esteem and Angels: Why Must I Suffer?

What about life’s struggles? Why must I suffer so much?

Sefer Chassidim[53] writes that Hashem only presents an individual with a trial, a nisayon, when He wishes to shower goodness upon him/her.

Hashem presents us with opportunities to enable us to actualize our inner potential. The greater the challenge, the more inner potential we have. Instead of allowing the challenges to knock our self-esteem down, we now know that if we seem to face a daunting challenge - this must mean that Hashem, our Creator knows that we simply carry inside of us outstanding potential.

As Seforno[54] writes[55]:

 שיהי' מה שבלבך יוצא לפועל כדי שידע כל מלאך שבדין תהיה מעלתך יותר מן מלאכי השרת

So that you will actualize your potential whereby al the angels will know that you deserve to be greater than them.

Nissyonos are the means with which G-d enables us to attain our blissful share in the World-to-Come. As the Pasuk in Parshas Eikev reads;

לְמַעַן עַנֹּתְךָ וּלְמַעַן נַסֹּתֶךָ לְהֵיטִבְךָ בְּאַחֲרִיתֶךָ (דברים ח': ט')

In order to pain and test you so that I will shower you with good in the end

Now look at this – Here is the follow-up passage from Seforno which has to be emblazoned on our hearts and shared with everyone!

ספורנו: להיטיבך. יותר ממלאכי השרת כראוי למנוסה לפניו:

What type of good is in store for me if I overcome life’s challenges?


A degree of goodness beyond the capacity of Malachim, as appropriate for one who is tested before Hashem!


…and if this is not yet internalized, we have the words in the Luchos Shniyos telling us:

כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוְּךָ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ.

This is a mitzvah that we must perform because Hashem commanded us to do so, even if we do not understand why we should do so.

My Personal Relationship with Hashem

There is another important approach one should take in face of difficulty and life’s challenges.

We say in the Shema,

 וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ וּבְכָל מְאֹדֶךָ:

And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all of your heart, your entire soul, and your entire very muchness[56].

And then

וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶל מִצְוֹתַי אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיּוֹם לְאַהֲבָה אֶת יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֵ-יכֶם וּלְעָבְדוֹ בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁכֶם

And it will be when you surely listen to My commandments that I am commanding you today; to love Hashem, your G-d and serve Him with all of your hearts and all of your souls.

When the Torah speaks to us in plural, in the second paragraph, Hashem omits the third expression and does not say ובכל מאודכם.

What is the message?

וּבְכָל מְאֹדֶךָ, says Rashi means that one must love Hashem with all of the individual life conditions that Hashem gave him/her. Whatever a person’s lot may be, whatever his/her emotional, social, financial, familial state may be; whatever talents or deficiencies he/she may have – take that personalized package and love Hashem with it. No one in the entire universe can do that job. Your life experiences, you placement in history, your makeup, is a unique creation – only you can take all of that and tell G-d; I love You! That is singular – to every individual.

Thus, I take all of my daily struggles and triumphs, even if I do not understand why I was given such a seemingly challenging and disadvantaged lot, and instead of allowing the situation to bury me, I say; Hashem; “I love you with every fiber of my life!” I have just fulfilled a mitzvah that no one in the history of the universe has and will have ever fulfilled. This is MY mitzvah, and Hashem will reciprocate the Love. “I won!”

דבר אחר ובכל מאדך, בכל מדה ומדה שמודד לך, בין במדה טובה בין במדת פורענות, וכן בדוד הוא אומר, כוס ישועות אשא וגו' (תהלים קטז, יג.) צרה ויגון אמצא וגו' (שם ג.): (רש"י)


Gratitude towards Humanity



בן זומא ראה אוכלוסא על גב מעלה בהר הבית, אמר

ברוך חכם הרזים, וברוך שברא כל אלו לשמשני.

הוא היה אומר כמה יגיעות יגע אדם הראשון עד שמצא פת לאכול, חרש וזרע וקצר ועמר ודש וזרה וברר וטיחן והרקיד ולש ואפה ואחר כך אכל,

ואני משכים ומוצא כל אלו מתוקנים לפני,

וכמה יגיעות יגע אדם הראשון עד שמצא בגד ללבוש, גזז ולבן ונפץ וטוה וארג ואחר כך מצא בגד ללבוש,

ואני משכים ומוצא כל אלו מתוקנים לפני,


The Mishnaic Sage Ben Zoma observed the masses of Jewish pilgrims who converged on the Temple Mount. Out of sheer gratitude to G-d, he proclaimed “Blessed is G-d the ….who created all of these people to serve me.”

Ben Zoma continued… After Adam sinned, look how much he had to toil to get a loaf of bread to eat. He had to plow, sow, harvest, pile the wheat, thresh, winnow, separate, grind__   kneed, bake… and only then was he able to partake in the loaf of bread. I, on the other hand, wake up in the morning, go to the store and buy a ready-made loaf of bread…

I am filled with appreciation to all of those people on the food chain that enabled me to easily eat the loaf of bread.  If Adam wanted an article of clothing, he had to sheer the sheep, bleach the wool, comb, spin, weave and then don the clothing. I, though simply go to the store and buy one.

Ø Ben Zoma appreciated that all of these people enabled him to fulfill his mission on earth; and as such deserved his debt of gratitude. <


Discussion Point:

How can I internalize Ben Zoma’s attitude?

Gratitude Towards Parents

Now that we appreciate the opportunity of life and understand that those who facilitate our sojourn on this earth whereby enabling us to fulfill our individual and unique callings, our debt of gratitude to our parents regardless of our chemistry with them comes as no wonder.

Kibbud Av is rooted in gratitude to them for providing you with life and its opportunities.

ספר החינוך מצוה ל"ג

משרשי מצוה זו, שראוי לו לאדם שיכיר ויגמל חסד למי שעשה עמו טובה, ולא יהיה נבל ומתנכר וכפוי טובה שזו מדה רעה ומאוסה בתכלית לפני אלקים ואנשים.

ושיתן אל לבו כי האב והאם הם סבת היותו בעולם,

ועל כן באמת ראוי לו לעשות להם כל כבוד וכל תועלת שיוכל, כי הם הביאוהו לעולם, גם יגעו בו כמה יגיעות בקטנתו, וכשיקבע זאת המדה בנפשו יעלה ממנה להכיר טובת האל ברוך הוא שהוא סבתו וסבת כל אבותיו עד אדם הראשון, ושהוציאו לאויר העולם וספק צרכו כל ימיו והעמידו על מתכנתו ושלמות אבריו, ונתן בו נפש יודעת ומשכלת, שאלולי הנפש שחננו האל, יהיה כסוס כפרד אין הבין,

ויעריך במחשבתו כמה וכמה ראוי להזהר בעבודתו ברוך הוא.


The root of the mitzvah to honor parents is that it is fitting for a person to acknowledge and return kindness to people who were good to him, and not to be an ungrateful scoundrel, because that is a bad and repulsive attribute before God and people. And to internalize that your father and mother are the reason you exist in the world, and for that it is truly fitting to honor them in every way and give every benefit you and, because they brought you to the world, and worked hard for you when you were little.

Once you take this idea to heart, you will move up from it to recognize the good of the Blessed God who is the cause of you and all your ancestors until the first man, and took you out into the world's air, and fulfilled your needs every day, and made your body strong and able to stand, and gave you a mind that knows and learns, for without the mind that God granted you, you would be "like a horse or a mule who does not understand" (Ps 32:9). And you should contemplate about how fitting it is to be careful in your worship of the Blessed One.



We now appreciate that -


רב יוסף כי הוה שמע קל כרעא דאמיה אמר "איקום מקמי שכינה דאתיא"

When Rav Yosef (who was blind) heard his mother’s footsteps, he would say, “Let me rise in honor of the approaching Presence of the Divine.”



Let’s look at this Midrash and try to imagine the depth of gratitude a child should have for a parent even if the child is upset at the parent.



ומי שהוא פותח פתחו לחבירו נפשו חייב לו וכן אתה מוצא באליהו בשעה שהלך אצל צרפית האלמנה מת בנה, התחיל מתחנן...

לכך אמר משה לפני הקב"ה קבלני יתרו ונהג בי כבוד איני הולך אלא ברשותו, לכך כתיב וילך משה וישב אל יתר חותנו. (שמות ד ב)

A guest owes his/her life to a host who opens his/her home for him/her. The Isha Hatzarfatit hosted Eliyahu. The woman’s baby died. Eliyahu implored Hashem to revive the child.

Yisro invited Moshe into his household. Although Hashem told Moshe to leave and lead the Jewish People out of Egypt, he would not do so until he asked Yisro permission to leave.



Discussion Point:

If Moshe Rabbeinu would not leave the house to save the Jewish people without gaining his father-in-law’s permission; shouldn’t we tell our spouses and parents that we are leaving the house and where we are going before doing so?

Most probably; taking the Jews out of Egypt was a more important venture than our going out for a Slurpee!

This heartwarming story is told about one of the great Jerusalem Kabbalists of yesteryear that he summoned his wife to his death bed. This is what he said to her; “All our married life, I never once left the house without telling you where I was going. Dear wife, I have to leave now, but I can’t do so without telling you first…”





Abandoned Child/Difficult Parents

What if one’s biological parents abandoned him or her?

The mitzvah of Kibbud av Va’eim still applies as long as doing so does not destroy the child emotionally. The responsibility towards the adoptive parents is one of deep gratitude, but is not the mitzvah of Kibbud Av Va’eim.


ערוך השלחן יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיפים ב', ג'

כיבוד אב ואם היא מהמצות השכליות, ונתפשטה בכל אום ולשון. וגם הכופרים בתורה נזהרים בה מפני השכל והטבע.

ואנחנו עם בני ישראל נצטוינו על כל מצוה שכליות לבלי לעשותה מפני השכל, אלא מפני ציוי הקדוש ברוך הוא בתורתו הקדושה. ועל זה נאמר: "והיה עקב תשמעון את המשפטים האלה...", דמקודם כתיב "ושמרת את החוקים ואת המשפטים...", ולזה אומר "והיה עקב תשמעון את המשפטים האלה", כלומר: דהחוקים וודאי תעשו מפני שאתם שומעים לקולי.

אבל עיקר השכר הוא שגם המשפטים, שהם המצות השכליות – תעשו מפני השמיעה, כלומר מפני שאני מצוה אתכם, ולא מפני השכל. וזהו שאמר דוד: "מגיד דבריו ליעקב, חוקיו ומשפטיו לישראל". וזהו עיקר גדול במצות התורה.

ויראה לי דלכן בדברות האחרונות כתיב "כבד את אביך ואת אמך כאשר צוך ה' אלקיך". כלומר: לא תכבדם מפני שהשכל גוזר כן, אלא כאשר צוך ה' אלקיך.

ובדברות הראשונות לא הוצרכו לזה, מפני שהיו במדרגה גדולה, כדכתיב: "אני אמרתי... ובני עליון כולכם". ופשיטא שכל מה שעשו – לא עשו רק מפני ציוי הקדוש ברוך הוא. אבל בדברות האחרונות, אחר חטא העגל שירדו ממדריגתן – נצטרכו להזהירם על זה.


When Klal Yisrael, accepted the first Luchos, they were in a “perfect state.” The Torah in Parshas Yisro simply tells us;

כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ.  No need for elaboration.

However, after we sinned with the eigel hazahav, we accepted the second Luchos. The second version of the Asseres HaDibros in Parshas Va’eschanan adds four words that are not included in the Dibros Rishonos.

כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוְּךָ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ.

What message is the Torah conveying to us?

After the eigel hazahav, we are not perfect. Neither are our parents perfect. Kibbud Av Va’eim could become a challenge. So Hashem says even if you might try to justify that your parent’s do not deserve respect, do so because I commanded you to do so - כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוְּךָ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יך.

The Aruch Hashulchan expresses a similar sentiment; we fulfill mitzvos because Hashem, our Creator told us so, not because we understand them. Just like 2+2+1-3= 2 for everyone, even a child who does not yet have the capacity to understand. This approach will help us as well respect parents even when it is difficult to do so.





Respecting Irreligious/ Non Jewish Parents:


It is forbidden to degrade any parent.

Rema (Ashkenazim) requires one to respect parents regardless of their degree of mitzvah observance.

Shulchan Aruch (Sephardim) rules that a parent who is a willful sinner loses his/her right for respect.

Rav Yaakov Ettlinger, Aruch La’ner

Chazon Ish and the Aruch Laner[57] (in Sefer Binyan Tziyon Responsum 23) rules that a parent who grew up irreligious is not a willful sinner. He or she never had the fair opportunity and clarity of vision to appreciate the wealth of Torah Judaism; as such, they do not lose their right to be respected by their children.

Moreover, when an observant child is respectful to his/her irreligious parents, it generates a Kiddush Hashem, it is an expression of Ahavas Hashem[58]; causing others to love Hashem as well, as it will make a positive impression on the parents and draw them closer to Hashem as well.

Frumming Out

Parenthetically, when a child grows in his/her religiosity, he or she must be ever sensitive to the sensitivities of one’s parents. One should find a competent Rav who understands relationships to guide him/her in this path.




מחלקת שו"ע ורמ"א ברשעים

פשוט שלתנוקות שנשבעות כשיראו איך שומרי תורה מכבדים הוריהם זה ישפיע עליהם להחזירם למוטב.

בזיון: אסור

סימן רמא סעיף ז אפילו היו אביו ואמו רשעים גמורים ועוברי עבירה, אפילו נגמר דינם להריגה ויוצאים ליהרג – אסור להכותם ולקללם

י"א: הגר אסור לקלל אביו העובד כוכבים ולהכותו, שלא יאמרו "באנו מקדושה חמורה לקדושה קלה", אלא מכבדו קצת. אבל העבד אין לו יחוס כלל, והרי הוא כמו שאינו אביו לכל דבר, אף על פי שנשתחרר אחר כך. וכך אמרו חכמינו ז"ל דעבד אין לו חייס, ועובד כוכבים יש לו חייס (יבמות סב א).



Story: Survive & Thrive: Oma’s Story & The Birth of Project Fellow.

It all began in Hamburg, Germany in 1925. My beloved Oma (grandmother), Ursula (Ushi) Von Halle grew up in the lap of luxury, an idyllic childhood in a close knit and loving traditional Jewish home. Her father owned a toy department store. She was so wealthy that she never knew how to brush her own hair. Her life came toppling down as Hitler ym”sh rose to power.

A relative sponsored her older sister Ingrid to come over to USA just in-time, but sadly (?) as the younger of the two sisters, she was left behind with her parents. Miraculously, her parents (Arthur and Ely) succeeded in getting her onto the kindertransport, which was an organized effort 9 months before the outbreak of World War II to temporarily absorb some 10,000 refugee children without their parents for the duration of the war. More often than not, these children were the only survivors from their families.

Oma was lucky enough to have been granted a passage to freedom. Parting with her parents was a most difficult and painful experience. On that fateful day in May, 14 year old Ushi took one last look at them and tearfully boarded the train to the boat to an unknown future. Stripped of her family, her valuables, she was not even allowed to leave with her silver fillings in her teeth. The silver belonged to the Third Reich…Only a small suitcase and longing heart accompanied her to freedom.

Ushi’s first tenure in England was miserable. She became a maid to a very snotty family who treated her like dirt. Here was a girl who never brushed her own hair, being treated like a piece of cattle. She was lonely, and extremely saddened.

She missed her parents terribly, but there was no knowing about their whereabouts and whether they were even alive.

Meanwhile, after significant traumatic experiences, Arthur and Ely miraculously dogged the Gestapo numerous times and were ultimately united in Sweden.

One day, while walking in the street, Arthur gets tapped on his shoulder. He turns around and beholds a German national looking at him in the eyes.

“I know who you are!” barked the Nazi.

I was your father’s gardener back in Germany! Your father was always kind to me. Listen up! We’re doing a sweep shortly and every Jew will be eliminated. If you value your life follow my instructions….”

A few days later in the middle of the night, there is a knock on the door where they are staying. The door opens and they are whisked downstairs into the back of a bread truck which was waiting to whisk them away.

They drive for eight hours until they reach a forest.

They disembark and meet a company of people and are smuggled into Norway. From Norway they successfully immigrated to the US and settled in NYC.

What a miracle!

Seven years after my grandmother bid goodbye to her parents in the train station in Hamburg, they finally were about to reunite in the US…

Her father and mother came to the dock. Ushi saw her father and ran into his arms, but her father did not recognize her, had no idea who she was…

Two years later, her father died of a heart attack. He had become sick from the constant fleeing from the Nazi’s and finally succumbed.

As a child this story vexed me. Though we do not ask questions on the way Hashem Yisborach runs His World, but as a child I wondered why our people lost the greatest of the greatest men, women, and children, and here a Nazi – the Satan himself saves my great grandfather who was not even religious, only to have him die two years after he arrived in the States.

What was Hashem’s plan?

After my wife and I got married, we went to visit Oma,

Then she told us, “Two miserably years in England passed. I was then 16 years old. I was a once spoiled child, all alone working as a miserable slave for some strange household who were very cruel to me, I suffered deeply in silence. I missed my parents so much. I missed normalcy so much. I turned to Hashem with all my might and I told Him with every fiber in my soul. “G-d A-lmighty; If You save my parents, if You reunite me with my parents, I promise You that I will become religious and keep all of the Torah and the Mitzvos!”

I had a cousin in England. Kurt and Else Nathan. They too were irreligious. When they heard of my misery, they promised that they would do anything I wanted. I thanked them profusely and said, “There is only one thing that I want… Yes I’m all alone, stripped of everything normal in my life – there is so much that I could want, but no- there is only one thing that I want – I want to go to an orthodox Jewish school.”

Initially they hesitated. I had to convince them that I would still eat by them. After a bit of convincing, they finally acquiesced and paid for me to go to Rebbitzen Grunfeld’s refugee school in Shefford. The young Rebbitzen had been a colleague of Sarah Schenirer and was married to Dayan Grunfeld, of London.

I was too old however to really go to the school, but Rebbitzen Grunfeld took me in under her wing anyway and I stayed with her at her side for five years!! I became totally transformed! Born again…and I never stopped praying to Hashem that He should save my parents. With seven years passing and me looking religious, no wonder that my father could not recognize me!”

After hearing Oma’s story, I wondered no more. She kept her side of the deal. Hashem kept His side of the deal.

Immigrating to the States, she could no longer live with her parents as she kept kosher and they did not, so she moved into a girls’ dorm nearby. After she married my Opa, wherever she lived, she always made sure to rent an apartment next to her for her mother to live by her side. Though her mother was not religious, she cared for her for the rest of her mother’s life on a daily basis. She loved her so much and had the utmost respect for her. Oma lived till 18 days after her 90th birthday.

In the year 2008, Oma’s cousin Clemens Nathan (Kurt and Else’s child) emails me. Clemens was now a member of the Board of Human Rights and Refugee Assistance to the UN. He had a distinguished public career.  He assisted Golda Meir. He was granted an audience with the Queen of England etc.

“I am coming to Israel, Yosef, and I want you to take me to someplace that I have never before seen in my life!” Mind you that Clemens gets around in a motorized wheelchair.

I agree to the challenge! Taking a taxi out to Ramat Rachel, I picked him up from the hotel and we drive to the MIR Yeshiva.

We go into the Beis Yeshaya Building of the MIR, up the elevator and we enter this Beis Midrash. Observing 700 young men learning Torah with enthusiasm, he is brought to tears.

Next year, Clemens contacts me. “I’m coming to Israel again. This time I’ll be here with my son Richard and his Japanese wife Naomi (not Jewish!). Richy is not exactly like you but I want you to try to warm up a little about Judaism…not too much…like a Yeshiva would be too much for him…”

OK here we go.

At this point, I felt as though Hashem was giving me the opportunity to justify my existence. After all, if not for Kurt and Else’s financing my grandmother’s schooling throughout the Holocaust, I would never be religious and quite probably not have been born. Here was my small window of opportunity to repay them for my life.

With the help of my Rav, Rav Yitzchak Berkovits and a wonderful woman – we arranged a pre-Shabbat – with Yom Tov Glaser. That was an experience in itself. But then came the clincher. Sunday night, our family went out for steak dinner together in Entrecote in Har Chotzvim.

We’re sitting around the table and I say, Ok guys let’s play a game. You know, when in Rome do like the Romans, well when in Israel, do like the Jews. I’m going to tell you the following story that took place in my neighborhood last week and I want to hear what you have to say.

A young couple invited a lonely elderly man to their home for the Friday Night Meal. This man though had a medical history and in matter of fact was in and out of the hospital recently.

Friday night arrives, but the man does not. The young woman panics and runs to the local Rabbi’s home. The Rabbi tells her to quickly call the Ambulance to the fellow’s home.

She calls MDA to the guy’s house. The first responder; AJ Rowe responds and knocks on the door. No answer! He calls a friend with a drill and his friend bores open a hole in the door. The two jump into the apartment and lo and behold in front of their eyes…the find…nothing!

I turned to the assembled and asked; “Who is responsible to pay for the door: the guy with the drill, the first responder, the Rabbi, the woman or the sick man? Debate about it over steak.

Instantly, the assemblage broke out into a heated debate. It was great! After the emotions subsided, I sat down next to Richard and said, “Richy, these are the type of things that we debate about in the Yeshiva.”

Intrigued, he began asking me questions about the Yeshiva. Then he tells me that next time he comes to Israel he wants to see what a Yeshiva is. I am totally floored. Richy was so estranged that he did not even remember his own bar mitzvah!

En route in a cab to the Old City afterwards, Richy turns to me and says, “Yosef, I can’t wait to get the answer!” “Richy, do you realize that you just experienced your first talmudical debate?!

I’ll tell you the truth, “I do not know the answer, but I’ll get you the answer and I’ll shoot you an email. Deal!

That night I went home and was completely blown away by the phenomenon. We did not speak to Richy about religious dogma, or altering his lifestyle…we just showed him a taste of how normal, relevant and practical Torah is. We hit him in the pocket and opened his heart.

That’s it; I’m sending him an email with the correct answer, with and a new question in business ethics. I’ll cc the email to my family and we’ll form an email dialogue, sending out an answer to last week’s question and a new question, allowing for people to comment and never know…. I called the email group Felow, an acronym for Family Ettlinger Legal Orb Weekly.

Four weeks later, we had eighty people on our email list.

Friday afternoon, my wife had to go to the emergency room. The house was quiet. I was cleaning up in the kitchen and all of a sudden Hashem hit me with a lightning bolt of inspiration. “Yosef, you are going to open up a world organization that will 1) use business ethics as a means for kiruv rechokim and 2) educate and share with kerovim the beauty of practical Choshen Mishpat halachos which apply daily and most of us do not know.”

My mind began to race and formed a list of goals, dreams, and processes. But first and foremost, I did not know any of the halachos, so we have to create a research center etc. etc.

I presented my dream to my Rav Yitzchak Berkovits. He has wholeheartedly supported my efforts since. He suggested a Rosh Kollel and after Sukkos, 2009, Hashem helped us open a research center based in the Mir yeshiva where we study the Halachos in depth each morning.

Meanwhile, the emails, continued, we began giving classes in Seminaries, Yeshivas, sharing the material with the world, and publishing material. Before our first public debut in a publication distributed at an Agudah Convention, we decided to add an L to Felow and call it Project Fellow: The Yesharim Foundation for Ethical Law.

A few months later, the Novominsker Rebbe shlita invited me to come to the Torah Umesorah convention and present my dream to the Vaad Roshei Yeshiva; a dream of introducing a comprehensive and engaging syllabus of monetary and contemporary Halacha into the school system. I received their blessings with a letter…

In the spring of 2016, I had the zechus of having Sara Lidskey in a class I gave. She was so enthralled by the class that she expressed interest in receiving all of my material. I asked her if she could share what I give her with 500 teens. She said…in matter of fact…yes…

While many of our materials have been used by mechanchim around the World, Sara Lidskey is taking this to a completely new level. Hashem chose her as an emissary from the Roshei Yeshiva, to share with every Jewish child that the Torah is relevant to their everyday challenges and encounters.

To date: hundreds of people receive our newsletters, hundreds of people have and are being inspired by our classes, people have committed to Shabbos observance through these learning experiences; thousands of people’s lives have been altered from across the spectrum, …including your life today.

Each day is faced with personal challenges to persevere against the odds. How often do I lift my lips in prayer and say, “G-d A-lmighty, if Oma’s prayer could make a Nazi save her parents, then prayers can help me through the month and enable us to bring Your children close to Your Torah and create a Kiddush Hashem by sharing the beauty and relevance of Your timeless Torah with its rightful owners. G-d A-lmighty, I am working to try to bring Your children to your Home. Father dear, please do not make the biological children you entrusted with me to have to leave their home.”

Now… Let us close our eyes for a few seconds and contemplate two things: All of the thousands of neshamos affected and drawn close to Hashem’s Torah was a result of a private conversation that one lonely and sad teenager had with Hashem! A private conversation which was motivated by a yearning to unite with her mother!!!

And finally…we always wondered what motivated my grandmother to even think of making such a deal with Hashem. It seems like she had a relationship with Hashem already. What was the secret?

My grandmother passed away 18 days after her 90th birthday on Friday night Parshas Bereishis, 5775 after hadlokas neiros Shabbos. (A fascinating story in itself…)

Sunday afternoon after the funeral, my father comes to my grandmother’s home to begin sitting shiva. He opens her memoirs and finds that she writes the following: (paraphrased)

“We were not allowed to leave Germany with any valuables. The Nazi’s even took the fillings out of my mouth. The silver belonged to the Third Reich. That’s why I needed dentures later on in life. We were only allowed to take a small suitcase with us on the train. My parents packed me up with a few belongings and for some reason…slipped a קריאת שמע על המטה booklet inside.

Each night, before I went to sleep, I soaked my bed with tears, reciting the קריאת שמע על המטה. Thus, was my connection with Hashem born…When I finally made the deal with Hasem, I knew to whom I was talking!”

….All of this Torah…all of these thousands of Jewish lives that have, are and will be uplifted…are the result of a sincere קריאת שמע על המטה said by a sad and lonely girl while she buried her head in her pillow…each tear was another one of our souls.

Never underestimate your silent conversation with Hashem, Never underestimate what your קריאת שמע על המטה can accomplish. Never underestimate what love towards a parent can

“יהי רצון מלפניך שומע קול בכיות, שתשים דמעותינו בנאדך להיות,




V. Seven Kibbud Av Va’eim Mitzvos

1.   Respect:   To Respect the Parent: Tend to the Parent’s Needs (Subjective; i.e. Caring for their personal needs & Promoting their Stature)



כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר יְ-ה-וָֹ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ:

(שמות כ: י"ב)

Honor your father and mother so that your days will be lengthened on the Land that Hashem your G-d is giving to you.


In thought



נאמר בזוהר הקדוש: צריך שכל אחד יטע בלבו לאהוב את הוריו כגופו. ע''כ. ויכבדם מתוך הוקרה והערכה לאיזו מעלה טובה שיש בהם.

Everyone should try to develop an extreme love for his/her parents, focusing on a positive attribute that the particular parent has, will enable a child to respect them properly. 



  1. What if the parents were/are abusive?



In Deed

שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף ב' 

אֵיזֶהוּ כָּבוֹד? מַאֲכִילוֹ וּמַשְׁקֵהוּ, מַלְבִּישׁ וּמְכַסֶה, מַכְנִיס וּמוֹצִיא. וְיִתְּנֶנּוּ לוֹ בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת, שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ מַאֲכִילוֹ בְּכָל יוֹם פְּטוּמוֹת וְהֶרְאָה לוֹ פָּנִים זוֹעֲפוֹת, נֶעֱנָשׁ עָלָיו

Feed him, give him to drink, cloth him, take care of his personal needs in a pleasant manner. In other words, take care of his/her individual physical, emotional, (and spiritual needs)



שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף ז' 

חַיָּב לַעֲמֹד מִפְּנֵי אָבִיו.

A child must rise when a parent comes in


Promoting Parent’s Stature

שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף ו' 


הָיָה צָרִיךְ עַל שׁוּם דָּבָר בָּעִיר וְיוֹדֵעַ שֶׁיַּשְׁלִימוּ חֶפְצוֹ בִּשְׁבִיל אָבִיו,

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ שֶׁגַּם כֵּן יַעֲשׂוּ בִּשְׁבִילוֹ, לֹא יֹאמַר: עֲשׂוּ לִי דָּבָר פְּלוֹנִי בִּשְׁבִילִי, אֶלָּא יֹאמַר עֲשׂוּ בִּשְׁבִיל אַבָּא, כְּדֵי לִתְלוֹת הַכָּבוֹד בְּאָבִיו


If one needs to accomplish something significant in town and he knows that people will fulfill his request on account of his father, even though he knows that they would do so on his account as well, he should request that they fulfill the request on behalf of his father, so that the honor becomes attributed to his father.




Give Pleasure, Calm Nerves

רמ"א יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף ד'

וְיִתְּנֶנּוּ לוֹ בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת...  וּמְדַבֵּר פִּיּוּסִים עַל לֵב אָבִיו

Care for him with pleasantness and calm his worries



Music to their Hearts

זהר יתרו


כבד את אביך, (הוא) כמו שאמר כבד את ה' מהונך, היינו מכספך, מהונך היינו מחנך, (מן החן שלך, דהיינו) בשמחה של נגון, כי זה הוא שמחת הלב כמו הניגון שבכל העולם, (המשמח את הלב), מעשים ישרים של הבן משמחים לב אביו ואמו... (שם תקנה)


A child’s good deeds are like music to the hearts of his his/her parents



Give Nachas


קיצור שלחן ערוך סימן קמ"ג: כ"א

מִי שֶהוּא רוֹצֶה בֶּאֶמֶת לְכַבֵּד אֶת אָבִיו וְאֶת אִמּוֹ, יַעֲסֹק בַּתּוֹרָה וּבְמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים, שֶׁזֶּהו הַכָּבוֹד הַגָּדוֹל לָאָבוֹת, שֶׁאוֹמְרִים הַבְּרִיוֹת, אַשְׁרֵי לְאָב וָאֵם שֶגִדְּלוּ בֵּן כָּזֶה.


One who wishes to truly respect his/her parent should live like an upstanding good Torah Jew. People will be impressed with his/her behavior and praise the parents that raised him/her



Eliyahu Hanavi’s Nachas Report



וכך כותב בתנא דבי אליהו: בזמן שאדם מכבד את אביו ואת אמו לעת זקנתן, למה הוא דומה? למלך שבא אליו בן אוהבו. אמר לו המלך: בני, מאין אתה בא?

אמר לו: מבית אבי ואמי. אמר לו המלך: אביך ואמך מה הם עושים? אמר לו: נפטרו בשלום לבית עולמם, אחר שכיבדתי אותם כראוי, והרוויתי אותם רוב נחת וכבוד ושמחה. אמר לו המלך: בני, ברוך אתה ותהיה לך קורת רוח בעולם על שנתת מנוחה לאביך ולאמך, עד שנפטרו בשלום לבית עולמם. עכשיו בוא עמי לביתי, וראה אלו אוצרות וגנזים טובים גנזו לך הוריך אצלי, בודאי שראוי אתה לקבלם    !


Eliyahu Hanavi: A person who respects his elderly parents, a friend of the King, appears before the King. Says the king to his friend’s child, “From where are you coming?” “I am coming from my parents’ home. They have since passed away after I respected them appropriately and provided them with an abundance of nachas, respect, and joy.” The King responds, “My son, you are blessed and you will enjoy pleasure in the “World” for providing your parent’s with serenity until they passed away. Now, come with Me to My home and behold these valuable prized treasure vaults that your parent’s hid by Me. Indeed, they are yours’ to keep.”




כך מי שמכבד וזן ומפרנס את אביו ואמו עד שנפטרו בשלום לבית עולמם, והולך בדרכי שמים, ובזה הוא עושה נחת רוח לאביו ולאמו,

אומר לו הקב"ה: בני, בוא ואראך גנזי שמים שהם גנוזים לך אצלי, מפני שכבדת ופרנסת את אביך ואמך, ועשית לי נחת רוח במעשים הטובים שלך! ועל כך נאמר: "ובאו עליך כל הברכות האלה והשיגוך, כי תשמע בקול ה' אלוקיך!".


So too One who respects, feeds and supports his parents until they pass on in peace to their World and follows the Torah path, whereby providing nachas to his parents; G-d tells him, “My son, Come, let Me show you the Heavenly concealed treasure vaults that are stored next to Me, because you respected, and supported your parents and provided Me with nachas by means of your good deeds…All the blessings shall reach you because you listened to the Voice of Hashem your G-d.


2.  Reverence: To Revere the Institution of Parenthood (Objective)



אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ (ויקרא י"ט: ג)

A man should revere his mother and father


שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף ד' 


אֵיזֶה מוֹרָא? לֹא יַעֲמֹד בִּמְקוֹמוֹ הַמְיֻחָד לוֹ לַעֲמֹד שָׁם בְּסוֹד זְקֵנִים עִם חֲבֵרָיו, אוֹ מָקוֹם הַמְיֻחָד לוֹ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל; וְלֹא יֵשֵׁב בְּמָקוֹם הַמְיֻחָד לוֹ לְהָסֵב בְּבֵיתוֹ; וְלֹא סוֹתֵר אֶת דְּבָרָיו וְלֹא מַכְרִיעַ אֶת דְּבָרָיו בְּפָנָיו, אֲפִלּוּ לוֹמַר נִרְאִין דִּבְרֵי אַבָּא; וְלֹא יִקְרָאֶנּוּ בִּשְׁמוֹ, לֹא בְּחַיָּיו וְלֹא בְּמוֹתוֹ, אֶלָּא אוֹמֵר: אַבָּא מָארִי


Do not sit in his prestigious place, do not stand in his prestigious place, do not contradict him (even not in front of him) or show that his words need your approval, do not refer to him by his first name even after he passes away. Instead, refer to him using a respectful title.



Poskim:    “My father/mother, my teacher” should be used when giving over something that they taught you. Otherwise, “Father/Mother” is sufficient.


3.    Wounding:


שמות כ"א: ט"ו

וּמַכֵּה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ מוֹת יוּמָת:


ואינו חייב אלא בהכאה שיש בה  חבורה (סנהדרין פד:): אביו ואמו. או זה  או זה: מות יומת. בחנק: (רש"י)

רמ"א בשולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן רמ"א סעיף א'

וְכֵן הַמַּכֶּה אָבִיו אוֹ אִמּוֹ, בְּחַיֵּיהֶם, בֵּין אִישׁ בֵּין אִשָּׁה חַיָּבִים חֶנֶק. וְדַוְקָא אִם עָשׂוּ בָּהֶם חַבּוּרָה, אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָשׂוּ חַבּוּרָה אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בְּלָאו, כְּמוֹ מִי שֶׁמַּכֶּה אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל


He who wounds his father or mother should die through strangling.


שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן רמ"א סעיף ב'

הִכָּהוּ עַל אָזְנוֹ וְחֵרְשׁוֹ, חַיָּב מִיתָה, שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה חֵרֵשׁ בְּלֹא חַבּוּרָה, דְּטִפַּת דָּם יוֹצֵא מִבִּפְנִים בָּאֹזֶן וְעַל זֶה נִתְחָרֵשׁ.

Hitting on the ear, whereby causing one to lose hearing causes internal bleeding. Thus, one who does so to a parent is deserving of the death penalty.


Ear Piercing

One can assume that ear piercing will puncture a blood vessel and cause a minimal amount of blood to be released.

Thus, a daughter may not pierce her mother’s ears. 



Hitting without causing a wound is forbidden like it is forbidden to hit any other Jew. Meaning, that provided that the hitting is not malicious and not in a degrading manner (a child who degrades a parent transgress, אָרוּר מַקְלֶה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ it is permitted.

Thus, a parent may tell a child to slap him/her five. 


Hitting another Jew


דברים  כ"ה: ג'


אַרְבָּעִים יַכֶּנּוּ לֹא יֹסִיף פֶּן יֹסִיף לְהַכֹּתוֹ עַל אֵלֶּה מַכָּה רַבָּה וְנִקְלָה אָחִיךָ לְעֵינֶיךָ


When a willful sinner deserves to be flogged...Beis Din may not flog him/her more than he/she can physically handle.

Certainly one Jew may not maliciously hit another upstanding Jew. This transgression is referred to as pen yosif.

רמב"ם הלכות חובל ומזיק פרק ה: הלכה א'

אסור לאדם לחבול בין בעצמו בין בחבירו. ולא החובל בלבד אלא כל המכה אדם כשר מישראל בין קטן בין גדול בין איש בין אשה דרך נציון הרי זה עובר בלא תעשה שנאמר לא יוסיף להכותו אם הזהירה תורה מלהוסיף בהכאת החוטא קל וחומר למכה את הצדיק:


It is forbidden for a person to wound himself/herself or his/her fellow. Not only wounding is forbidden, but any malicious harming to an upstanding Jew is a transgression of the prohibition of pen yosif…




Hitting a Parent


רמ"א בשולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן רמ"א סעיף א'


וְכֵן הַמַּכֶּה אָבִיו אוֹ אִמּוֹ, בְּחַיֵּיהֶם, בֵּין אִישׁ בֵּין אִשָּׁה חַיָּבִים חֶנֶק.

וְדַוְקָא אִם עָשׂוּ בָּהֶם חַבּוּרָה, אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָשׂוּ חַבּוּרָה אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בְּלָאו, כְּמוֹ מִי שֶׁמַּכֶּה אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל

Hitting without causing a wound is forbidden like it is forbidden to hit any other Jew. Meaning, that provided that the hitting is not malicious and not in a degrading manner (a child who degrades a parent transgress, אָרוּר מַקְלֶה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ) it is permitted.

Thus, a parent may tell a child to slap him/her five.



Tackle Football, Rugby, and Paintball

Playing tackle football, rugby, and paintball engenders a likely risk in wounding a fellow player. As such, were a child to play tackle football, rugby, or paintball with a parent and wound the parent, the child would deserve chenek. As such, playing such a game is far worse than administering invasive medical procedures and would be forbidden.

Maliciously hitting a parent in the course of a game, where the parent does not mind is also forbidden.

Playful hitting of a parent in the course of a game (which does not cause a wound) is not malicious. If the parent allows the child to do so, the child has not transgressed the pen yosif prohibition.



4.    Cursing:

שמות כ"א: י"ז 

וּמְקַלֵּל אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ מוֹת יוּמָת:

He who curses his father or mother should die.



5.    Pain/Anguish: Degrading Parents

דברים כ"ז: ט"ז



אָרוּר מַקְלֶה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ וְאָמַר כָּל הָעָם אָמֵן:

One who embarrasses, degrades, or pains his/her parents is cursed.      Conversely, blessed is he/she who honors, admirers, shows tribute and brings pleasure to his parents



שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן רמ"א סעיף ו' 


כָּל הַמְבַזֶּה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ, אֲפִלּוּ בִּדְבָרִים, אֲפִלּוּ בִּרְמִיזָה, הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל אָרוּר מִפִּי הַגְּבוּרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: אָרוּר מַקְלֶה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ

He who degrades a parent even verbally or by insinuation, is cursed from Heaven



6.    Inner Disdain: The Generation Gap

Shlomo Hamelech; the Wisest Man to live, speaks directly to the “Generational gap attitude!”

משלי ל: י"ז



עַיִן תִּלְעַג לְאָב וְתָבוּז לִיקֲּהַת אֵם יִקְּרוּהָ עֹרְבֵי נַחַל וְיֹאכְלוּהָ בְנֵי נָשֶׁר:


The eye that mocks a father and despises one’s aging mother; the ravens of the valley shall pick it out and the young eagles shall eat it




'In our days we beheld a person who financially supported his mother, but in his heart despised her for marrying another man after his father died. Once he traveled near the water, ended up in the water, was washed up and found dead missing an eye that had been eaten by the ravens. This punishment reflects the Pasuk in Mishlei.

[Chida in Shiurei Bracha in Y.D. 242 quoting from Sefer Chareidim]


Disdain to Abusive Parent?

How can we expect a child not to disdain a parent who molested him/her?

Having to respect such a parent would be an emotionally traumatic burden on the child. As explained, a child in such a situation is absolved from the Mitzvos of Kibbud Av Va’eim.

What if the child feels that the parent was emotionally abusive?

A competent Halachic authority who understands relationships and should be consulted. When choosing a therapist, find a competent one who will work with Halacha.

See later on where we quote from Rav Moshe Shapiro.



General Bein Adam Lechaveiro Issues with Parents

In addition, to these kibbud av va’eim mitzvos, a child and parent must take care not to overlook basic bein adam lechaveiro mitzvos, which often get ignored because of familiarity between the parties.


Maliciously Hitting a Fellow

רמב"ם הלכות חובל ומזיק פרק ה' הלכה א'

אָסוּר לְאָדָם לַחֲבל בֵּין בְּעַצְמוֹ בֵּין בַּחֲבֵרוֹ. וְלֹא הַחוֹבֵל בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא כָּל הַמַּכֶּה אָדָם כָּשֵׁר מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל בֵּין קָטָן בֵּין גָּדוֹל בֵּין אִישׁ בֵּין אִשָּׁה דֶּרֶךְ נִצָּיוֹן הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כה-ג) 'לֹא יֹסִיף' (דברים כה-ג) 'לְהַכֹּתוֹ'.

It is forbidden maliciously (not for a constructive purpose) harm, hit, or pain oneself or a fellow Jew.



Maliciously Hitting a Parent

רמ"א יורה דעה סימן רמ"א סעיף א'


וְכֵן הַמַּכֶּה אָבִיו אוֹ אִמּוֹ, בְּחַיֵּיהֶם, בֵּין אִישׁ בֵּין אִשָּׁה חַיָּבִים חֶנֶק. וְדַוְקָא אִם עָשׂוּ בָּהֶם חַבּוּרָה, אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָשׂוּ חַבּוּרָה אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא בְּלָאו, כְּמוֹ מִי שֶׁמַּכֶּה אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל

Wounding a parent is deserving of death. Maliciously hitting without wounding is forbidden like it is forbidden to maliciously hit any other Jew.




Emotional Pain to another Jew

ויקרא כ"ה: י"ז

וְלֹא תוֹנוּ אִישׁ אֶת עֲמִיתוֹ וְיָרֵאתָ מֵאֱלֹהֶ-יךָ כִּי אֲנִי יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֵ-יכֶם.

A man should not emotionally inflict his kin. Fear G-d, for I am Hashem your G-d.



Respectful Effective Rebuke

ויקרא י"ט: י"ז, ח"י עפ"י פירוש הרמב"ן[iii]


לֹא תִשְׂנָא אֶת אָחִיךָ בִּלְבָבֶךָ הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת עֲמִיתֶךָ וְלֹא תִשָּׂא עָלָיו חֵטְא:


לֹא תִקֹּם וְלֹא תִטֹּר אֶת בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ אֲנִי יְ-ה-וָֹ-ה:  


[If your friend sinned against you] Do not hate your brother internally. Instead, chastise your fellow respectfully (so that he could explain himself, apologize or rectify his ways) in so that you will not sin by hating him.

Do so respectfully without sinning and embarrassing him.

Such behavior will bring you to love your brother instead of bearing a grudge.

Similarly, if your brother sins to G-d, rebuke him respectfully so that you do not bear the sin with him without sinning and embarrassing him. 





In general, when trying to influence others, peacefulness is more effective than hostility.



דְּרָכֶ֥יהָ דַרְכֵי-נֹ֑עַם וְֽכָל-נְתִ֖יבוֹתֶ֣יהָ שָׁלֽוֹם: (משלי ג' י"ז)

The Torah’s ways are pleasant and all its pathways are peaceful.



דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים בְּנַחַת נִשְׁמָעִים מִזַּעֲקַת מוֹשֵׁל בַּכְּסִילִים: (קהלת ט': י"ז)

The calm words of the wise man are heard more than the screams of the foolish dictators



וְלֹא יִהְיֶה כְקֹרַח וְכַעֲדָתוֹ (במדבר י"ז: ה')


אמר רב כל המחזיק במחלוקת עובר בלאו שנאמר ולא יהיה כקרח וכעדתו  (סנהדרין דף ק"י)

Rav says, whoever keeps an argument going transgresses a negative prohibition “you shall not be like Korach and his cohorts”


VI. Kibbud Av Va’eim Limitations


Kibbud Av Va’eim must bring us to respect Hashem. Thus, if heeding to them conflicts with Torah or Rabbinic Law. Hashem’s respect takes precedence.  Actively disgracing them though, is almost never permitted.

One should ask a sha’aloh however, how to behave when Kibbud av Va’eim conflicts with a chumra, a stringency in Halacha that a child wishes to accept upon himself/herself.


Conflict with Torah Law

אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ וְאֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ אֲנִי יְ-ה-וָֹ-ה אֱלֹהֵ-יכֶם: (ויקרא י"ט: ג)

ואת שבתתי תשמרו. סמך שמירת שבת למורא אב, לומר אף על פי שהזהרתיך  על מורא אב, אם יאמר לך חלל את השבת, אל תשמע לו, וכן בשאר כל המצות:

אני ה' אלהיכם. אתה ואביך חייבים בכבודי (יבמות ה:),   לפיכך לא תשמע לו לבטל את דברי. (רש"י)



A man should revere his mother and father.

Nonetheless, you must guard My Shabbos; as I am Hashem, your parents’ and your G-d.

If your parents tell you to transgress a Torah or Rabbinic commandment, do not listen to them.



רמב"ם הלכות ממרים פרק ו' הלכה י"ב 


מִי שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ אָבִיו לַעֲבֹר עַל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה בֵּין שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ לַעֲבֹר עַל מִצְוַת לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה אוֹ לְבַטֵּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה אֲפִלּוּ שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם. הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִשְׁמַע לוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר  'אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ וְאֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ'. כֻּלְּכֶם חַיָּבִין בִּכְבוֹדִי:

A child should not listen to a parent who tells him to transgress a positive or negative Torah commandment or a Rabbinic ordinance




שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן רמ סעיף ט"ז 


הָאָב שֶׁצִּוָּה אֶת בְּנוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יְדַבֵּר עִם פְּלוֹנִי וְשֶׁלֹּא יִמְחֹל לוֹ עַד זְמַן קָצוּב, וְהַבֵּן הָיָה רוֹצֶה לְהִתְפַּיֵּס מִיָּד לוּלֵי צַוָּאַת אָבִיו,

אֵין לוֹ לָחוּשׁ לְצַוָּאָתוֹ.



A parent is in a fight with an individual. The parent does not allow the child to forgive and maintain a positive relationship with the individual. The child wishes to make amends. He may do so. (Peace is a mitzvah)

{Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules though that if the child can avoid exposing the new relationship to the parent, whereby saving the parent anguish, he should try to do so.}





Rebuking a Parent

Extra care must be taken when trying to set a parent straight. Respect is crucial. Often, the best approach, when possible, is to avoid confrontation. It’s a lot easier to change ourselves and the way we deal with difficult situations, than changing other people’s natures.


שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף י"א


רָאָה אָבִיו שֶׁעָבַר עַל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה, לֹא יֹאמַר לוֹ: עָבַרְתָּ עַל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה, אֶלָּא יֹאמַר לוֹ:

אַבָּא כָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה כָּךְ וְכָךְ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא שׁוֹאֵל מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא כְּמַזְהִירוֹ, וְהוּא יָבִין בְּעַצְמוֹ וְלֹא יִתְבַּיֵּשׁ.

וְאִם הָיָה אוֹמֵר שְׁמוּעָה בְּטָעוּת, לֹא יֹאמַר לוֹ: לָא תִּתְנֵי הָכִי.


If a child observes a parent transgressing a mitzvah, he should not embarrass him by saying, “Father you sinned”, Instead, he should say politely, “Father, does it not say … in the Torah?” whereby, the father will understand on his own where he erred. If the father misquotes a source, do not say, “Dad, You’re wrong.” Instead, find a respectful and sensitive way to set him straight.  



Seeking the Truth

באר שבע סנהדרין ק"י ד"ה כל החולק


אע"ג שהבן חייב לחלוק כבוד לאביו שלא יסתור את דבריו אפ"ה לדבר הלכה נעשו אויבים  זה לזה משום שאין צריך לחלוק כבוד שלא יסתור את דבריו בדבר הלכה וטעמא רבה איכא במילתא כמו שכתב הרא"ש ז"ל בתשובה שהבאתי...כי תורת אמת היא ואין מחניפין לשום אדם...


The process of in-depth halachic study entails resolving dilemmas by drawing upon proof from Talmudic and Rabbinic sources. In the process; the student often attempts to compare the issue with a Talmudic case or passage, only to subsequently discover that the comparison might need to be reconsidered. Thus, it would not be uncommon for a father and child to be studying together, attempting to reach a decisive answer, while each party expresses their view of the issue in a different light. Is it permissible for the child to disagree with the father in such a scenario?

Yes, because his disagreement is not because of a disregard or lack of respect for the parent. Instead, it is an outgrowth of a mutual quest for truth and the quest for truth would be undermined if the child would have to silence his opinion in deference to his father.




Political Debate: Depends upon the Approach


ולאור זה יוצא שכל ויכוח  בהנהגה או בהשקפת העולם כשדעתם לברר את האמת - פירושו, "איזה הנהגה התורה הקדושה מחייבת?" - מותר לסתור את דבריהם בדרך כבוד. וכן הסכים הגאון הרב יצחק ברקביץ שליט"א


What about debating about how one should think or act in a specific set of conditions? Say for example for whom to vote? If the approach to the conversation is “what does the Torah require me to do or think in this situation”, then the debate is an attempt at an unbiased probe for an absolute truth. (But be honest with yourself!) For in fact, every action or thought of a Jew is to be an expression of Torah. There is no activity which should not be governed by G-d’s blueprint of existence.

In such a conversational environment, it would be permitted for a child to respectfully express a differing opinion than that of the parent.



Discussion Point:

There is no endeavor which is beyond G-d’s involvement and His timeless Torah has what to say about it.



The following three cases in point are simply the tip of the iceberg! 1) In court cases where the two litigants are squabbling over the most mundane pursuits. 2) In the lavatory 3) The Pasuk in Mishlei tells us that we must perceive G-d and enhance an appreciation of His Presence in all of our ventures and pursuits.



מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף אֱ‍לֹהִ-ים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת אֵ-ל בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִ-ים יִשְׁפֹּט (תהלים פ"ב: א)

G-d is standing amidst judges who adjudicate lawsuits

גלוי וידוע לפני כסא כבודך שאם יפתח אחד מהם או יסתם אחד מהם אי אפשר להתקיים ולעמוד לפניך. (ברכת אשר יצר)

It is revealed and known before your Throne of Honor that it impossible to survive before You if one of the organs or orifices will become wrongly open or close

משלי ג'

{א} בְּנִי תּוֹרָתִי אַל תִּשְׁכָּח וּמִצְוֹתַי יִצֹּר לִבֶּךָ: {ב} כִּי אֹרֶךְ יָמִים וּשְׁנוֹת חַיִּים וְשָׁלוֹם יוֹסִיפוּ לָךְ: {ג} חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת אַל יַעַזְבֻךָ קָשְׁרֵם עַל גַּרְגְּרוֹתֶיךָ כָּתְבֵם עַל לוּחַ לִבֶּךָ: {ד} וּמְצָא חֵן וְשֵׂכֶל טוֹב בְּעֵינֵי אֱלֹהִים וְאָדָם: {ה} בְּטַח אֶל יְ-ה-וָ-ה בְּכָל לִבֶּךָ וְאֶל בִּינָתְךָ אַל תִּשָּׁעֵן: {ו} בְּכָל דְּרָכֶיךָ דָעֵהוּ וְהוּא יְיַשֵּׁר אֹרְחֹתֶיךָ: {ז} אַל תְּהִי חָכָם בְּעֵינֶיךָ יְרָא אֶת יְ-ה-וָ-ה וְסוּר מֵרָע: {ח} רִפְאוּת תְּהִי לְשָׁרֶּךָ וְשִׁקּוּי לְעַצְמוֹתֶיךָ: {ט} כַּבֵּד אֶת י יְ-ה-וָ-ה מֵהוֹנֶךָ וּמֵרֵאשִׁית כָּל תְּבוּאָתֶךָ: {י} וְיִמָּלְאוּ אֲסָמֶיךָ שָׂבָע וְתִירוֹשׁ יְקָבֶיךָ יִפְרֹצוּ: {יא} מוּסַר יְ-ה-וָ-ה בְּנִי אַל תִּמְאָס וְאַל תָּקֹץ בְּתוֹכַחְתּוֹ: {יב} כִּי אֶת אֲשֶׁר יֶאֱהַב יְ-ה-וָ-ה יוֹכִיחַ וּכְאָב אֶת בֵּן יִרְצֶה: {יג} אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם מָצָא חָכְמָה וְאָדָם יָפִיק תְּבוּנָה: {יד} כִּי טוֹב סַחְרָהּ מִסְּחַר כָּסֶף וּמֵחָרוּץ תְּבוּאָתָהּ: {טו} יְקָרָה הִיא (מפניים) מִפְּנִינִים וְכָל חֲפָצֶיךָ לֹא יִשְׁווּ בָהּ: {טז} אֹרֶךְ יָמִים בִּימִינָהּ בִּשְׂמֹאולָהּ עֹשֶׁר וְכָבוֹד: {יז} דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי נֹעַם וְכָל נְתִיבוֹתֶיהָ שָׁלוֹם: {יח} עֵץ חַיִּים הִיא לַמַּחֲזִיקִים בָּהּ וְתֹמְכֶיהָ מְאֻשָּׁר:

בכל דרכיך. בכל עניניך דע את ה' ר''ל תן דעתך לחשוב לעשות מעשיך למען יבוא בדבר תועלת לקיים דבר ה' ואז הוא יוליכך באורח מישור ותצליח בה : (מצודת דוד)


Parent’s Destructive Behavior

When trying to prevent a parent from self-destructive behavior in a way that would otherwise be disrespectful, it is better to arrange for someone else to prevent the parent from the behavior.

On the other hand, a child may withhold from giving a dangerous substance to a parent even if the parent threatens to curse the child for disobeying his/her orders.

The Aruch Hashulchan[59] makes these points in the following few places.

ערוך השלחן ר"מ: כ"ח


ויראה לי דאפילו במעות של אב, אם יכול הבן למונעו מזה על ידי אחרים – יעשה כן, ולא יניחו לאבד ממון


If a child observes a parent destroying the parent’s own money or property, if the child is able to enlist someone else to prevent the parent from this behavior, he should do so and not allow for the parent to destroy his/her property.



ערוך השלחן ר"מ: ל"ב


דידוע שהמשתגעים ביותר בהכרח לאסרם בזיקים ובחבלים, והבן אין ביכולתו לעשות בעצמו כן.


לכן מצוה לאחרים, והוא ילך לו.


If a parent becomes senile or crazy to a point where the parent has to be treated in a disrespectful manner in order to protect his/her life, the child should arrange for a third party to care for the parent while the child respectfully distances himself/herself from the challenging situations.



ערוך השלחן ר"מ: מ'


ומכל מקום טוב יותר להקיצו על ידי אחר ולא על ידי עצמו.


Even though one may wake up a parent if he will otherwise miss zman tefilla, but if possible, it is better to have one who is not his child to do so.



ערוך השלחן ר"מ: מ"א


ואב שהיה חולה, וצוו הרופאים שלא יאכל מאכל זה ולא ישתה משקה זו, והאב מבקש מבנו ליתן לו זה – אין לו ליתן לו.


ואפילו אומר לו "לא אמחול לך אם לא תתן לי" – לא ישגיח בו; כיון דהרופאים הזהירוהו בזה – אי אפשר ליתן לו

A father who fell ill and the doctors warned him not to consume a certain food or drink. The child may not obey the parent; even if the parent tells him/her ‘I will not forgive you…”



Discussion Point: Smoking & Gambling

What should a child do if a parent asks for a cigarette, a pack of cigarettes, to smoke weed or to drive him/her to the casino?[60]

And for that matter, what should a parent do if a child asks for a cigarette, a pack of cigarettes, to smoke weed, or to drive him/her to the casino?

Point to Ponder: Unconditional Love

Should a parent love a child unconditionally?

Should a child love a parent unconditionally?


Who Pays? Keep the Kidneys

Mr. Fried is a dialysis patient. He orders his son Meir to donate one of his kidneys to him. Does Meir need to obey his father’s command?

All things considered, it might[61] be noble of Meir to donate his kidney, but the mitzvah of Kibbud Av does not require him to do so.

Why not? We saw that a child is not required to pay out of pocket for the food for his parent. Instead, the child must inconvenience him/herself to purchase and feed the parent, but the parent pays for the food. Of course, the child is allowed to pay for the food if he wishes to do so and will fulfill a mitzvah for doing so, but h/she is not required to do so.

We call this concept משל אב as opposed to משל בן.

The Rishonim understand that this concept is not limited to finances. For example, the Maharik rules that a parent cannot interfere with the child’s choice of whom to marry provided that the boy/girl is a G-d fearing individual because for the child to give up on the one who he/she loves is beyond the requirement of a child. Such a significant sacrifice is considered to be משל בן and is not required. Similarly, giving one’s kidney is a significant sacrifice and would be considered to be משל בן. Kibbud Av Va’eim therefore would not require the child to give his kidney for his parent, though were the child to receive a heter to undergo the surgery it would definitely be a fulfillment of Kibbud Av Va’eim and a noble thing to do.



Why Always Me?

הגאון רבי אברהם יעקב פאם[62] זצ"ל (מבקשי תורה רכ)



"הנה טבע האדם כשמבקשים ממנו לעשות איזו פעולה שיש בה טרחה - לסלק מעליו את הטורח ולדחותו אצל אחרים, ומצוי שכאשר האמא מצווה לבנה לעשות דבר מה בצרכי הבית, הבן מתרעם ומתלונן: "תמיד את מצווה אותי, אף פעם אין את מצווה לאחִי לעשות שום דבר, הוא תמיד פטור, רק אני ורק אני, הכל עלי ועל צווארי".

מה נורא וחמור האיסור בהתנהגות זו, אילו היה מבין מה שלפניו, היה זריז ונשכר לקיים מצות כיבוד האם בשמחה רבה, שזכה למצוה גדולה וחביבה כזו. כי מלבד מתן שכרה של אריכות ימים, הרי קיום מצוה זו כהלכתה משווה הוד והדר, כבוד ותפארת לעושיה, כאיש חמודות יקר רוח ונעים המידות".

Rav & Rebbitzen Avrohom Pam zt"l

It is natural for a person to want to deflect responsibility. “Mom why do you always ask me to take out the trash? Why don’t you ask Avi to take it out too, sometimes?

If we appreciate the immense reward in store for us for taking out the garbage bag, we would rejoice at every opportunity to obey and honor our parents. I am becoming a better person every with every bag of trash I take out for Mom.




מצוה על כל אדם לנטוע בלבו חזק מאוד את אהבת הוריו, ויאהבם אהבה עזה, כי מלבד שהצטווינו בתורה לאהוב כל יהודי כנפשנו ומאודנו, שנאמר: ואהבת לרעך כמוך, מכל מקום באביו ואמו יש להזהר בזה ביתר שאת, מאחר והשוותה התורה את כבודם לכבוד הקב"ה. (זהר, חיי אדם. קא. ועיין שלחן ערוך המדות, אהבת הבריות שער ההלכה סימן א)


Chayei Adam quotes the Zohar that a child is required to develop an intense love for his/her parent.


Discussion Point: Loving the Abuser

Does a child need to develop a love for a parent who sexually abused him or her?

We said that one is absolved from Kibbud Av Va’eim when it destroys the child emotionally. That being said, if loving the abusive parent will make the child emotionally ill, he/she is exempt [Rav Dovid Cohen].

Note: Stockholm syndrome is a syndrome where victims of abusive or controlling relationships often form an emotional bond with their abuser.


Conflicting Orders

What should you do if your mother tells you to go to sleep and your father tells you to stuff envelopes for your brother’s bar mitzvah?

שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף י"ד 


אָבִיו אוֹמֵר לוֹ: הַשְׁקֵנִי מַיִם, וְאִמּוֹ אוֹמֶרֶת: הַשְׁקֵנִי מַיִם, מַנִּיחַ אִמּוֹ וְעוֹסֵק בִּכְבוֹד אָבִיו.

וְאִם הִיא מְגֹרֶשֶׁת מֵאָבִיו, שְׁנֵיהֶם שָׁוִים וּלְאֵיזֶה מֵהֶם שֶׁיִּרְצֶה יַקְדִּים.


If your father asks you to bring him a glass of water and your mother asks her to bring her a glass of water (in a situation where it is not life-threatening or for health reasons), you give your father first. If the parents are divorced, you can choose who to service first.


פתחי תשובה יורה דעה סימן ר"מ ס"ק ט'


ונראה לי לכאורה דאם אמר לו אביו לעשות לו מלאכה שאין אשה חייבת לבעלה כאשר מבואר בשולחן ערוך אבן העזר סימן פ' ואמו ג"כ אמרה לו מלאכה ההיא דשניהם שוים וכו'


The reason is because the respect for parents are equal. However, since serving food is one of the responsibilities that a wife has to her husband, in this instance the mother’s request has to bend for the father’s, because she herself is required to give him a glass of water.




When the parents are divorced, no one has any marital responsibilities towards the other. Hence, both parental orders to the child are equal and the child can choose to whom to obey first.


Dad Lets

שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף י"ט


הָאָב שֶׁמָּחַל עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ, כְּבוֹדוֹ מָחוּל.

וכן אמרי האב שמחל על כבודו, כבודו מחול הני מילי כבודו אבל הכאתו וקללתו לא. (שאילתות דר' אחאי גאון ס')

מחל על בזיונו, צערו, קללתו או הכאתו אינו מחול

Parents can absolve children from displaying specific acts of respect, but a parent’s allowance for a child to shame, hit, or curse is ineffective.



Dad Lets | Mom Doesn’t

Say you want to go out with friends at night. Dad says go Mom says no or else, Mom says go, Dad says no.

To whom do you listen?

If one parent instructs you to go and the other instructs you not to go; as long as the issue does not interfere with the responsibilities that one spouse has towards the other, the child can choose whom to obey, unless either going or not going involves an another type of aveira.

If one parent allows you to go while the other parent does not allow you to go, the in all probability you cannot go.


Degree of Financial Investment



זֶה שֶׁמַּאֲכִילוֹ וּמַשְׁקֵהוּ, מִשֶּׁל אָב וָאֵם, אִם יֵשׁ לוֹ... אֲבָל חַיָּב לְכַבְּדוֹ בְּגוּפוֹ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּתּוֹךְ כָּךְ בָּטֵל מִמְּלַאכְתּוֹ...

אֲבָל אִי לֵית לֵיהּ, לֹא מְחֻיָּב לְבַטֵּל מִמְּלַאכְתּוֹ וְלַחֲזֹר עַל הַפְּתָחִים.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם יָדוֹ מַשֶּׂגֶת, תָּבֹא מְאֵרָה לְמִי שֶׁמְּפַרְנֵס אָבִיו מִמָּעוֹת צְדָקָה שֶׁלּוֹ


While a child is required to physically inconvenience himself and risk potential gain in order to care for his parents, he is not required to spend his own money for the care if his parents can afford to cover it.

Similarly, he is not required to risk losing his job, food for the day in order to provide for the parent.

If the parent cannot afford the care, the child’s first obligation is to provide for the parent before other Tzedaka obligations.

Nonetheless, if possible it is preferable not to use Tzedaka money for parents as it is an embarrassment.



Degree of Personal Investment: Dating Choices

While there are time when adolescents do in fact know what choice in life is better for their development; often adolescents believe they know what is better for them more so than their parents do because of their lack of life-experience or that they are simply too emotionally involved in the issue to see the issue for its true merits.

Rav & Rebbitzen Wosner

As such, when Rav Wosner zt”l would become aware of parents who were unhappy with the dating choices that their children were making, he would advise the children to take things slowly rather than to rush into things. He observed that more often than not, the child ultimately realized the validity of the parent’s concerns and “came around.” Thus, it is generally a good idea to take parents’ concerns into consideration. Of course, there are exceptions.

Nonetheless; technically, if a child does indeed know which dating choice is better for him/her; generally, he/she would not transgress kibbud av va’eim if he/she chooses not to listen to the parent’s directive, for three reasons listed below. In fact, as we will see, sometimes it may even be forbidden to listen to the parents’ opinion.

Of course, we are discussing an instance where the dating choice is not someone who will be detrimental to the child’s spiritual wellbeing.

Just like our bodies are not our property to destroy[63], certainly our souls are not ours to destroy.

This issue is already discussed by the fifteenth century French and Italian Torah Giant Rav Yosef Kolon a.k.a Maharik. See endnotes for Hebrew text[iv].




  1. If the child does not have to spend his/her own money to feed the parent, he/she certainly does not have to go through such significant personal pain to give up his/her appropriate mate to heed the directive of his/her parent.


  1. Spouses fulfill the mitzvah of Ve’ahavta Le’re’acha Kamocha when they develop harmony in the home. When discord reigns in the home, they transgress this mitzvah. In fact, the sages require prospective mates to meet each other before they decide to wed, lest they discover an unappealing feature after marriage which might lead to a lack of love between them.


קידושין דף מ"א.


אמר רב יהודה אמר רב אסור לאדם שיקדש את האשה עד שיראנה שמא יראה בה דבר מגונה ותתגנה עליו ורחמנא אמר ואהבת לרעך כמוך


Rav Yehuda said in Rav’s name that it is forbidden for a man to betroth a woman without seeing her beforehand, lest he subsequently discover an unappealing feature in her and she will be degraded in his eyes, but the Torah tells us “You should love your fellow like yourself.”



Accordingly, if indeed the chemistry between the prospective parties is such that will afford the future couple with healthy building blocks for harmony, then it would be forbidden to drop the prospect and go for a prospect suggested by a parent which lacks the appropriate chemistry for harmony.


  1. Kibbud Av Va’eim includes caring for the parent’s needs. The person who the child marries is not the parent’s need. Although, disobeying a parent can cause the parent pain, the child cannot be compelled to heed the parents’ directive which has nothing to do with him/her at the expense of great pain to the child[64].



Discussion Points:

  • What if the parent claims that the dating choice will be an embarrassment to the family?
  • What if the parent will undergo pain as a result of my dating choice?
  • Yitzchak Avinu commands Yaakov Avinu not to marry a girl from the daughters of Canaan. Instead, he instructs him to go to Charan to choose a wife from the daughters of Lavan. The Torah testifies that indeed he even sent him off to Charan.
  • May a person marry whomever he/she wants to marry?

This phenomenon seems problematic.

If in fact there is no obligation for a child to listen to a parent when it comes to dating choices, how could Yitzchak have commanded him so and compelled him to listen, would it not have been more appropriate for Yitzchak to merely offer his suggestion rather than command Yaakov?


בראשית פרשת תולדות כ"ז: מו - כ"ח: ה[v]


וַתֹּאמֶר רִבְקָה אֶל יִצְחָק קַצְתִּי בְחַיַּי מִפְּנֵי בְּנוֹת חֵת אִם לֹקֵחַ יַעֲקֹב אִשָּׁה מִבְּנוֹת חֵת כָּאֵלֶּה מִבְּנוֹת הָאָרֶץ לָמָּה לִּי חַיִּים:

וַיִּקְרָא יִצְחָק אֶל יַעֲקֹב וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ וַיְצַוֵּהוּ וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ לֹא תִקַּח אִשָּׁה מִבְּנוֹת כְּנָעַן:

קוּם לֵךְ פַּדֶּנָה אֲרָם בֵּיתָה בְתוּאֵל אֲבִי אִמֶּךָ וְקַח לְךָ מִשָּׁם אִשָּׁה מִבְּנוֹת לָבָן אֲחִי אִמֶּךָ:

ואֵ-ל שַׁ-דַּ-י יְבָרֵךְ אֹתְךָ וְיַפְרְךָ וְיַרְבֶּךָ וְהָיִיתָ לִקְהַל עַמִּים:

וְיִתֶּן לְךָ אֶת בִּרְכַּת אַבְרָהָם לְךָ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ אִתָּךְ לְרִשְׁתְּךָ אֶת אֶרֶץ מְגֻרֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן אֱלֹהִ-ים לְאַבְרָהָם:

ויִּשְׁלַח יִצְחָק אֶת יַעֲקֹב וַיֵּלֶךְ פַּדֶּנָה אֲרָם אֶל לָבָן בֶּן בְּתוּאֵל הָאֲרַמִּי אֲחִי רִבְקָה אֵם יַעֲקֹב וְעֵשָׂו

Rivka said to Yitzchak, “I am disgusted with my life on account of the daughters of Cheth; if Yaakov takes a wife from the daughters of the land, why do I need life?

 So Yitzchak summoned Yaakov and blessed him, and said to him, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Paddan-Aram, to the house of Besuel your mother’s father, and take a wife there from the daughters of Lavan your mother’s brother. And may Keil Shakkai bless you and make you fruitful and make you numerous and may you be a congregation of peoples.

May He grant you the blessing of Avraham, to you and to your offspring with you; that you may possess the land of your sojourns which G-d gave to Avraham.”

And Yitzchak sent off Yaakov; and he went towards Paddan-Aram, to Lavan the son of Besuel the Aramean, brother of Rivka, mother of Yaakov and Eisav.




רַק הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ וּשְׁמֹר נַפְשְׁךָ מְאֹד...(דברים ה: ט)

וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם מְאֹד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם...(דברים ה: ט"ו)

Be very vigilant about your spiritual and physical wellbeing


The Rishon Letzion Rav Yitzchak Yosef: An Approach

ילקוט יוסף

יז אם הבן רוצה לישא אשה שאינה צנועה, וממשפחה פחותה, ויש לאביו צער ועגמת נפש מנישואיו שיהיו עם הנערה ההיא, ומצוה האב על בנו לבל ישאנה, חייב לשמוע בקולו. כי בנישואיו עמה גורם להוריו צער ובזיון, ונאמר ארור מקלה אביו ואמו. וכן מצינו בתורה שציוה יצחק אבינו את יעקב אבינו שלא יקח אשה מבנות כנען מפני שהיו רעים וחטאים עם מדות מושחתות, ולכן אמרה רבקה אל יצחק קצתי בחיי מפני בנות חת, (והוא הדין לכל שבעה עממים), וישמע יעקב אל אביו ואל אמו.

אבל אם היא אשה כשרה וצנועה כשאר בנות ישראל הכשרות, אפילו אם ציוהו אביו בפירוש לבל ישאנה, אינו חייב לשמוע לאביו. ואפילו אם נפטר אביו לבית עולמו אחר שציוהו על זה, אין לחוש בזה משום מצוה לקיים דברי המת, אלא ישא אשה כשרה כראות עיניו. [שם פרק ט' סעיף יז]

יח מי שהוריו ציוו אותו שלא לישא אשה פלונית רק מפני שהיא מעדה מסויימת , אין לו לשמוע להם, אחר שנתברר לבן שהיא יראת שמים ובעלת מדות. וכן אב שציוה את בתו שלא תשא איש פלוני מפני שאינו ממשפחה מכובדת, וכדומה, אינה חייבת לשמוע בקולו, שאין בזה מצות כיבוד אב ואם. וכן אם האשה בעלת מדות טובות ויראת ה', אבל אינה מוצאת חן בעיני אביו או אמו, או שאביו טוען שאינה הגונה לבנו, ולדעת הבן אשה זו הגונה לו, אין לו לשמוע בקולם שלא לשאתה. אך יעשה זאת במתינות ובעצת חכם. [ילקו''י שם פרק ט' סעיף יח מהדורת תשס''א כרך ב' עמוד קלח]

If he/she has middos tovos and fear of Heaven, then you do not have to listen to your parents[65]. Nonetheless, as with all interpersonal relationship issues, things should be done with tact, sensitivity and with the guidance of a wise person.

Remember: You will have to live with your decision!!!


Food For Thought: Teenage Decision Making

Deborah Yurgelun-Todd and colleagues at the McLean Hospital Brain Imaging Center in Boston, Massachusetts have used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the activity of teenage brains to those of adults.

The researchers found that when processing emotions, adults have greater activity in their frontal lobes than do teenagers. Adults also have lower activity in their amygdala than teenagers. In fact, as teenagers age into adulthood, the overall focus of brain activity seems to shift from the amygdala to the frontal lobes.

The frontal lobes of the brain have been implicated in behavioral inhibition, the ability to control emotions and impulses. The frontal lobes are also thought to be the place where decisions about right and wrong, as well as cause-effect relationships are processed. In contrast, the amygdala is part of the limbic system of the brain and is involved in instinctive “gut” reactions, including “fight or flight” responses. Lower activity in the frontal lobe could lead to poor control over behavior and emotions, while an overactive amygdala may be associated with high levels of emotional arousal and reactionary decision-making.

The results from the McLean study suggest that while adults can to use rational decision making processes when facing emotional decisions, adolescent brains are simply not yet equipped to think through things in the same way.

For example, when deciding whether to ride in a car driven by a drunk friend, an adult can usually put aside her desire to conform and is more likely to make the rational decision against drunk driving. However, a teenager’s immature frontal lobes may not be capable of such a coolly rational approach, and the emotional feelings of friendship may be likely to win the battle.

The results from these studies do not mean that a teenager will always make irrational decisions. They do, however, suggest that teenagers need guidance as their brains develop, especially in the realm of controlling emotional impulses in order to make rational decisions. It is becoming clear that the adolescent brain is a work in progress, and that parents and educators can help this progress along through open communication and clear boundaries.






A child must inconvenience and stress himself/herself to care for parents. Similarly, a child is required to undergo uncomfortable situations to fulfill the mitzvah of kibbud av va’eim if the conditions so warrant.

For example, if a parent wrongly embarrasses a child, the child may not answer back. Instead, the child should contemplate upon the immeasurable reward G-d has in store for him/her and remain silent.

However, just like a child does not have to pay out of pocket for the parent’s care if the parent can afford to pay for the care him/herself, a child may equally respectfully protect him/herself from a parent stealing or illegally taking away the child’s money. Though frowned upon in Kabbala, technically, a child may even respectfully take a parent to Beis Din to retrieve stolen property[66].

Similarly, if a parent’s behavior is sabotaging the emotional health of the child, taking away the child’s emotional self, the child may stand up and defend him/herself.

The reason: a child is required to serve the parent, but is not required to pay for the care when the parent can afford to do so him/herself or when neither the parent nor child can afford to do so.

Similarly, when caring for the parent sabotages the child’s emotional health, it is as though neither the parent nor the child can afford to provide this service and as such, the child is henceforth absolved from caring for the parent under such conditions.

However, if the child’s emotional health is not at stake, the child is required to silently accept the berating and not to lash out at the parent.




Unfounded Accusation: Setting the Record Straight


ילקוט יוסף (הראשון לציון הרב יצחק יוסף שליט"א)


אב המוכיח את בנו על איזה מעשה שעשה, והאב טועה בבן, אין לבן לומר לאביו: זה אינו אמת, וכדומה,

אלא יאמר לו בלשון מתונה, כגון, יש לי לומר דברים המצדיקים את דרכי, ויעמיד את האמת על בוריה בלשון מכובדת

וכן יכול לומר לו שאין העובדות כמו שהוא סבור, ואין זה בכלל לא יסתור את דבריו.


If a parent accuses you for doing something wrong or not doing something right and the parent simply has the facts wrong. You may respectfully and tactfully defend yourself.

The prohibition to contradict them is in something which needs reasoning. Contradicting their reasoning is disrespectful, but if they have the facts wrong, there is no prohibition for stating the truth. Of course, it must be said in a respectful manner so as not to transgress ארור מקלה אביו ואמו.




שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף ג' וח'

ג עַד הֵיכָן מוֹרָאָם? הָיָה הַבֵּן לָבוּשׁ חֲמוּדוֹת וְיוֹשֵׁב בְּרֹאשׁ הַקָּהָל, וּבָאוּ אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ וְקָרְעוּ בְּגָדָיו וְהִכּוּהוּ עַל רֹאשׁוֹ וְיָרְקוּ בְּפָנָיו, לֹא יַכְלִים אוֹתָם, אֶלָּא יִשְׁתֹּק, וְיִירָא מִן מֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים שֶׁצִּוָּהוּ בְּכָךְ

ח עַד הֵיכָן כִּבּוּד אָב וָאֵם? אֲפִלּוּ נָטְלוּ כִּיס שֶׁל זְהוּבִים שֶׁלּוֹ, וְהִשְׁלִיכוּ בְּפָנָיו לַיָּם, לֹא יַכְלִימֵם וְלא יְצַעֵר בִּפְנֵיהֶם וְלֹא יִכְעֹס כְּנֶגְדָּם, אֶלָּא יְקַבֵּל גְּזֵרַת הַכָּתוּב וְיִשְׁתֹּק

רמ"א וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים דְּאִם רוֹצֶה לִזְרֹק מָעוֹת שֶׁל בֵּן לַיָּם דְּיָכוֹל לְמָנְעוֹ, דְּהָא אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְכַבְּדוֹ רַק "מִשֶּׁל אָב", אֲבָל לֹא "מִשֶּׁל בֵּן" וְאֵין חִלּוּק בֵּין לְכַבְּדוֹ אוֹ לְצַעֲרוֹ .

וְדַוְקָא קֹדֶם שֶׁזְּרָקָן, דְּאֶפְשָׁר דְמִמְנַע וְלֹא עָבֵיד, אֲבָל אִם כְּבָר זְרָקוּהוּ, אָסוּר לְאַכְלוּמֵהּ אֲבָל יוּכַל לְתָבְעוֹ לְדִינָא

Even if a parent publically shames a child, throws away a child’s money, the child should not shame the parent in retaliation. Instead, the child should focus on fulfilling G-d’s commandment. (Note: This process will help the child focus his/her incited energy.)

Rema: the child however can prevent the parent from doing so as well as press charges, but cannot simply embarrass the father which does nothing to prevent the child’s loss.



Protecting Mom

קיצור שלחן ערוך סימן קמ"ג: ו: חַיֵּי אָדָם בשם ספר חסידים


אָמְרָה לוֹ אִמּוֹ, "עֲשֵׂה זֹאת" וְעָשָׂה, וְאַחַר כָּךְ בָּא אָבִיו וְשָׁאַל אוֹתוֹ, "מִי אָמַר לְךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת זֹאת?" וְהוּא מַרְגִישׁ, שֶׁאִם יֹאמַר שֶׁאִמּוֹ אָמְרָה לּוֹ, יִכְעַס אָבִיו עַל אִמּוֹ, אַל יֹאמַר לוֹ שֶׁאִמּוֹ אָמְרָה לוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת הַדָּבָר, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעַל יְדֵי כֵן יִכְעַס הָאָב עָלָיו


Mother says “Do X”. Afterwards, Dad finds out and confronts you and angrily asks, “Who told you to do X?” If you have reason to believe that Dad will become angry at Mom, do not tell Dad, “Mom told me to do X”, even if protecting Mom will mean that Dad screams at you.”


ערוך השלחן ר"מ: מ"א


ואם האם צותה לבנה איזה דבר, ושאל האב לבנו "מה אמרה לך?" והבן יודע לכשיגיד לו האמת יכעוס עליה – לא יגיד לו מה שצותה. ומותר לשנות מפני השלום (שם סימן של"ו).


Aruch Hashulchan even permits you to lie in order to keep peace between your parents.



All this is true, if the child will not be emotionally crushed by bearing Dad’s wrath. If the situation is such, that the child will risk his/her emotional wellbeing by protecting one parent from the other’s wrath, the child is not required to bear the brunt of it. We see this from the following quotation.


The Emotional Limit

שו"ת מהרי"ק סימן קס"ו


ואשר נסתפקת אם יש כח ביד האב למחות ביד בנו לישא אשה אשר יחפוץ בה הבן?

לעניית דעתי נראה שאם היא אשה ההוגנת לו שאין כח ביד האב למחות ביד הבן חדא דאפילו לענין ממון אודי ליה רבנן לרבי ירמיה כמאן דאמר "משל האב" וכן פסקו כל פוסקי הלכות אשר ראיתי כל שכן הכא, שהוא דבר השייך בצער' דגופא להניח האשה אשר חפץ בה ויצטרך לקחת אשה אחרת אשר לא תישר בעיניו כל כך


If the girl is appropriate for him, he does not need to heed his parent’s request not to marry her. (Although heeding their advice more often is a prudent idea!)  For if a child does not have to pay out of pocket for the parents’ care, the child certainly does not need to undergo such emotional pain to give up on the mate his heart desires in order to fulfil his parents’ wish.




Care for Parents vs. Getting Married

יא. אב שציוה על בתו לבל תנשא כלל כדי שתשרת אותו, והבת רוצה להנשא ולהביא בנים לעולם, אינה צריכה לשמוע לו כלל. וראוי לייעץ לבת שתבקש לה מנוח אשר ייטב לה, ותינשא לאיש הגון אשר תחפוץ בו, ואין לה לחוש למצות כיבוד אב ואם בכל כיוצא בזה. ומכאן מוסר השכל לאיש ... הוא מצווה עליה לבל תנשא לאיש, שגדול עונו מנשוא. וצפוי לו עונש מהקב"ה, כי צערא דגופא לא ניתן להימחל.



A father may not command his daughter to abstain from getting married in order to tend to his needs instead.


There is no forgiveness for submitting someone to such personal anguish.



Untenable Situation:

When encounters will generally become toxic and create an impossibility for the child to fulfill the mitzvos of kibbud av va’eim properly, it is sometimes better to cut the relationship. If attaining little bit of “people skills” would solve the issue, then obviously don’t cut off the relationship…


שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף י


מִי שֶׁנִּטְרְפָה דַּעַת אָבִיו אוֹ אִמּוֹ, מִשְׁתַּדֵּל לִנְהֹג עִמָּהֶם כְּפִי דַּעְתָּם עַד שֶׁיְּרֻחַם עֲלֵיהֶם.

וְאִם אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לַעֲמֹד, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּגְּעוּ בְּיוֹתֵר, יֵלֵךְ לוֹ וְיַנִּיחֵם, וִיצַוֶּה לַאֲחֵרִים לְנַהֲגָם כָּרָאוּי.


What should a child do if the parent loses his/her mind? If the situation is tenable, then try to accept the situation until it passes. If however, the situation is unbearable, then it is preferable for the child to move away and instruct others who are more equipped to deal with them to care for them appropriately.





רמ"א יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף כ"ד


דְּחַיָּב בִּכְבוֹד אָבִיו יוֹתֵר מִכְּבוֹד אֲבִי אָבִיו (וּרְאָיָה מִמִּדְרָשׁ גַּבֵּי וַיִּזְבַּח זְבָחִים וגו' (בראשית מו, א) )


Grandchildren are required to honor their grandparents, but the care for their parents takes precedence.



Discussion Point

  • Why isn’t the parent obligated to forgo the fulfillment of his/her needs in deference to the needs of the grandparent who is either the parent’s parent or in-law?
  • Moreover, what if the grandparent is over 60 or 70 years old?


Respect for Elders


מִפְּנֵי שֵׂיבָה תָּקוּם וְהָדַרְתָּ פְּנֵי זָקֵן וְיָרֵאתָ מֵּאֱלֹהֶ-יךָ אֲנִי יְ-ה-וָֹ-ה: (ויקרא י"ט: ל"ב)

Rise in the presence of an old person and you shall honor the presence of an elder and you should have fear of your G-d. I am Hashem.


והדרת פני זקן. איזהו הדור, לא ישב במקומו, ולא יסתור את דבריו. (רש"י)

Rise in his presence. Do not sit in his prestigious seat, do not contradict him.



דְּהַיְנוּ בֶּן שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה (שולחן ערוך יורה דעה סימן רמ"ד סעיף א') בן ששים שנה (זהר)

One is required to display this respect towards a 70 year-old. It is noteworthy to do so to a 60 year-old.



Conflicts: Parent & Grandparent

תשובה מאהבה[67] חלק א' סימן קע"ח


וקשה לדעת הרמ"א גבי כבוד אביו וזקנו למה יקדים כבוד  אביו נימא נמי הנח כבוד  אביו ועשה כבוד  זקנך שאתה ואביך חייבים כבוד זקנך בשלמא לשיטת מהרי"ק אין אדם מחויב כלל  בכבוד הזקן אבל לפמ״ש הרמ׳א עפ״י מדרש ורש"י צל״ע?

ולכך אני אומר דבר חדש ודאי במעמד שלשתן יחדיו הזקן ובנו ובן בנו, אם אומר לו אביו השקיני מים וזקנו אומר נמי השקיני מים אז אפילו אם נותן לאביו שורת הדין על אביו להשקות לאביו הזקן מפאת כבוד אב, ועתה ל״ל להטריחו לאביו לתת לו והוא יתן לאביו? נותן הוא תיכף לאבי אביו ומקיים כבוד שניהם כאחד הגם שמקדים זקניו לאביו זהו בעצמו מכבוד אביו שלא להטריחו אבל במקום דליכא ע״ד זה ודאי כבוד אביו עדיף והוא נכון לענ"ד


Although, ones obligation to respect ones parents takes precedence over one’s responsibility towards his grandparents; when obeying your parent will be enabling him/her to disobey or disregard his/her responsibilities towards his/her parents; your grandparents; then you should obey your grandparents.

For example; if your grandparent is visiting and tells you to sit at the table during the meal and your parent tells you to go play, provided that staying at the table is not beyond your physical/ emotional capacity to do; you should obey your grandparent.



When grandparents are living with the parents and children on a more constant basis, then the grandparents would be interfering with the parents’ chinuch approach. The parents do not need to obey the grandparents in




חַיָּב אָדָם לְכַבֵּד חָמִיו. (יורה דעה סימן ר"מ סעיף כ"ד)

One must respect his/her in-laws


The Poskim explain that the degree of respect is not on the level of one’s own parents, but it is significant. Especially when there is an obligation for Hakaras Hatov as we find that Moshe Rabbeinu respected his father-in-law.


Spouse vs. Parent

Goal of Marital Relationship


Once Rav Aryeh Levin’s[68] wife felt pain in her foot. They went to the doctor together whereupon the doctor asked, "What can I do for you?" Rabbi Levin answered in all sincerity, "Doctor my wife’s foot is hurting us.”


The relationship between spouses should be so strong that when one spouse is hurting, it should hurt the other spouse.


בראשית ב: כ"ד

עַל כֵּן יַעֲזָב אִישׁ אֶת אָבִיו וְאֶת אִמּוֹ וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ וְהָיוּ לְבָשָׂר אֶחָד:

Therefore, let man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.




והיו לבשר אחד. מכוין בכל הפעולות להשיג השלמות המכוון ביצירת האדם כאלו שניהם נמצא אחד בלבד:

They should direct all of their endeavors to achieve the intended perfection of the creation of mankind as if they were both one single unit.



גר"א משלי י' :ט'


ועיקר התכלית הי' שיהיו שנים אך מה שברא הקב״ה מתחילה אחד כדי שיהא אהבה ואחוה ביניהם יותר מאחיו ושאר קרוביו שיהיו גוף אחד ממש

G-d initially created husband and wife as one creation so that the love and unity between both spouses should transcend one’s love towards his/her siblings or other relatives so that the two spouses should transform into one single unit.



The Spirit of Marital Relationship

איוב ה: כ"ד


וְיָדַעְתָּ כִּי שָׁלוֹם אָהֳלֶךָ וּפָקַדְתָּ נָוְךָ וְלֹא תֶחֱטָא.

And you shall know that peace reigns in your tent, and you will remember your spouse and not sin.


The Harmony Recipe

When each spouse is focused on creating harmony, he/she will endeavor to understand the other spouse’s physical, psychological and emotional needs and fulfill them. Men and women in general, and each individual in particular, have different needs and when each spouse provides the other with these needs, harmony reigns!

In this spirit, Chazal set forth the following Harmony Recipe.

רמב"ם הלכות אישות פרק ה: הלכות י"ט-כ

יט וְכֵן צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אָדָם מְכַבֵּד אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ יוֹתֵר מִגּוּפוֹ וְאוֹהֲבָהּ כְּגוּפוֹ. וְאִם יֵשׁ לוֹ מָמוֹן מַרְבֶּה בְּטוֹבָתָהּ כְּפִי מָמוֹנוֹ. וְלֹא יַטִּיל עָלֶיהָ אֵימָה יְתֵרָה. וְיִהְיֶה דִּבּוּרוֹ עִמָּהּ בְּנַחַת. וְלֹא יִהְיֶה עָצֵב וְלֹא רַגְזָן:


And so the sages instructed that a man should respect his wife more than he respects himself and should love her like he loves herself. He should pamper her according to his budget. He should not create tension or a fearful atmosphere in the home. He should speak calmly with her. He should not be depressed or short-tempered.



And in such a loving environment: 

כ וְכֵן צִוּוּ עַל הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁתִּהְיֶה מְכַבֶּדֶת אֶת בַּעְלָהּ בְּיוֹתֵר מִדַּאי וְיִהְיֶה עָלֶיהָ מוֹרָא מִמֶּנּוּ וְתַעֲשֶׂה כָּל מַעֲשֶׂיהָ עַל פִּיו. וְיִהְיֶה בְּעֵינֶיהָ כְּמוֹ שַׂר אוֹ מֶלֶךְ. מְהַלֶּכֶת בְּתַאֲוַת לִבּוֹ וּמַרְחֶקֶת כָּל מַה שֶּׁיִּשְׂנָא. וְזֶה דֶּרֶךְ בְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הַקְּדוֹשִׁים וְהַטְּהוֹרִים בְּזִוּוּגָן. וּבִדְרָכִים אֵלּוּ יִהְיֶה יִשּׁוּבָן נָאֶה וּמְשֻׁבָּח:

And so, the sages thus commanded the woman to generously respect her husband. She should revere him and follow his directive. She should admire him like a prince or a king and develop a will to please him.

A marital relationship built on these principals will be harmonious, pleasant, and very good.



שמות כ"א: י


שְׁאֵרָהּ כְּסוּתָהּ וְעֹנָתָהּ לֹא יִגְרָע.


A husband is required to provide his wife with food, clothing, and her marital and emotional needs.



בראשית ט"ז: ה


וַתֹּאמֶר שָׂרַי אֶל אַבְרָם חֲמָסִי עָלֶיךָ אָנֹכִי נָתַתִּי שִׁפְחָתִי בְּחֵיקֶךָ וַתֵּרֶא כִּי הָרָתָה וָאֵקַל בְּעֵינֶיהָ וגו':

And Sarai said to Avraham, “I am upset with you. I placed my handmaid between your arms, you saw that she became pregnant and that I became derided in her eyes…




ועוד, דבריך אתה חומס ממני, שאתה שומע בזיוני ושותק (ב"ר מה, ה.)


And moreover, you are “stealing your words from me.”; for you hear my embarrassment; and are silent.

Meaning; that I as your wife am entitled to have you stand up and defend my honor.



Accordingly, if a wife emotionally needs her husband to stand up in her defense against criticism; he would be required to do so. If the defense is directed against a parent, it must be done in a respectful manner.

What about a wife to a husband? Is a wife required to stand up to defend her husband’s honor?


דברים כ"ד: י"ב

 ספורנו  וקרבה אשת האחד להציל את אישה. אע''פ שהיבמה מצווה לבזות את אחי בעלה על שלא חס על בעלה לא הותר לאשה לבייש את הנלחם עם בעלה: (ספורנו)

Marital Responsibilities


The Torah imposes different responsibilities upon both spouses. Below is a partial list of various specific responsibilities, beyond the overall obligation for both parties to develop a feeling of unity between themselves:

In truth, if one looks into these halachic responsibilities, one sees that each spouse must express their mutual commitment to each other by providing the other with the five expressions of love[69]

As can be expected; what Gary Chapman discovered in his authoritative book The Five Love Languages; the Torah and Chazal have been teaching from the beginning.


Husband to Wife

Provide for food

Provide for clothing

marital & emotional needs

redeem her from captivity

heal her if she falls ill

bury her if she dies

Wife to Husband

Provide for his physical needs

household care

marital needs

acts of personal service (devotion)

respect (the husband’s emotional needs)




A child’s Torah responsibilities take precedence over his/her responsibilities towards his/her parents.

Thus, if a child’s care for his parents interferes with him/her performing his/her marital duties, he/she should defer the care to others.

If the care does not encroach upon his/her responsibilities, the married child is required to care for the parent.

Nevertheless, we learned that while a child is required to inconvenience himself/herself to care for the parent, a child is not required to pay out of pocket for the parent’s care when the parents can afford to pay their own way, nor is the child required to undergo severe pain to care for the parent. That being said, consider the following scenario.

David wants to invite his aging parents to move in with them. David’s wife Helene says, “no way”. What should David do?

David should first try to impress upon Helene the immeasurable reward one gets for doing so, as well as the tremendous chinuch opportunity for their kids to observe. If this works then great, provided that it does not encroach upon David and Helene fulfilling their expected marital duties to one another. If it could be made to work, it could be a wonderful chinuch opportunity.

(Sometimes, it is better for all parties involved to have the parent live in his/her own quarters nearby. It is said that the Chazon Ish once suggested this approach to someone.)

If however, Helene cannot be convinced, but instead is deeply pained by the phenomenon, Helene has the right to refuse to allow her in-laws to move in. why? Because the husband is required to provide his wife with appropriate shelter…and this doesn’t fit the bill for her temperament[vi].

ל אם האשה אינה רוצה לדור בחצר אחת עם חמותה, ובעלה רוצה לדור בבית הוריו כדי לקיים מצות כיבוד אב ואם ולטפל בהם, אין בעלה יכול להכריחה לכך, ובפרט אם חמותה גורמת לסכסוכים בינה לבין בעלה. או שהדבר מקשה על אשתו. [כיבוד או''א פ''ב ס''ל]



The obligation of honoring one’s father and mother when these parents interfere in their married children’s lives was addressed by the Rav Moshe Shapiro, who was asked; “What is the proper response when in-law interference causes marital problems?” 

Rav Shapiro responded with the following:  “When such interventions erode peace and harmony in the home, couples should deny their parents entry.  If that doesn’t work, they should send the parents away in a manner that makes it clear that their parents’ intervention has generated this alienation.  This is the husband’s responsibility.  It is obvious that the rule of honoring one’s father and mother does not apply here; one is not obligated to put his life aside for his parents’ honor. But it is advisable to first consult with an impartial Torah scholar.” [Sefer Binas Hamiddos: Pirkei Hadracha, published by “Binas Halev,” Yerushalayim, 5767, p. 86, free translation]


Loving a Difficult Personality

Does one need to love an abusive parent? Does one have to love a parent all together?

Shulchan Aruch makes no mention of loving one’s parent. However, Chayei Adam rules from the Zohar that a child is required to develop a love towards his/her parents. When the child feels no natural love, focusing on one positive attribute the parent has can help.

Most of us are not 100% good and not 100% bad. We would want our parents to love us for who we are. Should we not do so to our parents as well??

יכבד את הוריו מתוך הוקרה והערכה רבה, כמו שמכבד לאדם חשוב ונכבד ומפורסם מאוד. ואפילו אם לא ניכרות בהם מעלות טובות כל כך, עם כל זה יסתכל על שאר מעלותיהם הטובות, שאין לך אדם שאין בו מעלה טובה, וילמד עליהם זכות, ובזה יקל לו לכבדם בכבוד והדר, כציווי הבורא יתברך. (חרדים. מבקשי תורה רכ, רסב. קא)

Try to focus on an attribute in which your parents excel. Develop an appreciation for it, especially in light of his/her other deficiencies and work on loving him/her through that angel [Me’am Lo’ez, R. Chaim Shmuelevitz]

Accordingly, a child would be absolved from working on generating that love if it would hamper the child’s emotional wellbeing, which could often be the in the case of real abuse.

This would be an example of משל בן whereby a child is not required to forfeit his/her emotional wellbeing to fulfill the mitzvah of Kibbud Av Va’eim.


A Story: One Special Thing

A mother once confided in me that out of her nine (!) children, there was one she found difficult. Try as she might, she simply didn’t get along with that child. She found herself picking on him, and not being as nice to him as the other children. One day, her husband became sick with hepatitis.

As was his way when a student was ill, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg called to arrange a time to visit him. When he arrived, the children were all bathed and in clean clothes and waiting at the door to greet their Rebbe.

Somehow, he immediately focused on that child. The one child the mother did not quite get along with. He looked at him intensely, turned to the mother and complimented his eyes. “This child has the most beautiful eyes!"

From that moment on, even during the most difficult times, the mother would notice this child's eyes. In fact she told me that sometimes she looked at this child and all she would see were his magnificent eyes; eyes that she had never noticed before. Their relationship improved dramatically. 

[Rabbi Yaacov Haber]


A Parable:

Abandoned! They left her on a park bench wrapped up in a blanket with a typed note, “Baby Aviva.”. Her father looked out from the red Ford Taurus car window. Aliza, a young Jewish mother walks by, sees the abandoned child and her heart begins to blead. Compassionately, she picks her up and brings her home. The Taurus follows them home and commits the home to memory. Aliza and her husband took special care of her. They raised her with so much love. They sent her to school and encouraged her to succeed in every way. Never missing a beat, they married her off and watched her build a family of her own.

One cold winter night, Aviva hears a knock on the door. She slowly opens the door and beholds and hunchbacked old man. Hello Aviva, he says. “This is weird, she thought to herself.” “I am your father. My wife is your mother. When you were one month old we left you on a park bench and Aliza adopted you.

We are old and cold and have no one to care for us. I am asking you to please frequent our home and care for your old cold and lonely parents.”

Confused. Shocked. Disbelief. Distrust. Anger. Aviva was suddenly flushed with a torrent of emotions. She did not know where to put herself.

Need Aviva care for her “parents.”?

Kibbud Av Va’eim is one of the חוקי התורה.  We must care for our parents, even when we do not understand why we should do so. [Rav Yaakov Galinsky, zt”l]



Lashon Hara & Venting

Two Types of Lashon Hara

Derogatory Speech


והוא המספר בגנות חבירו אע"פ שאומר אמת. (רמב"ם דעות ז: ב)

Derogatory speech even if it is true



Harmful Words


והמספר דברים שגורמים אם נשמעו איש מפי איש להזיק חבירו בגופו או בממונו ואפילו להצר לו או להפחידו הרי זה לשון הרע. (רמב"ם דעות ז:ה)


Gossip about people that when spread can cause physical, financial, or emotional damage is also considered Lashon Hara


Lashon Tov: Constructive Purpose

When the speech is for constructive purposes, letoeles, it is permissible, if there is no better way to get the result, provided that the information is first-hand knowledge and the assessment is accurate. The Chofetz Chaim gives an insightful example of a constructive purpose.




ואפשר דהוא הדין אם כונתו בספורו להפג את דאגתו מלבו, הוי כמכון לתועלת על להבא, ולפי זה מה שאמרו ז"ל: דאגה בלב איש ישיחנה לאחרים, קאי גם על ענין כזה אך שיזהר, שלא יחסרו שאר הפרטים שבסעיף זה.  (חפץ חיים הלכות לשון הרע כלל י' סעיף י"ד בהערה)

Perhaps an example of a toeles is, if the speaker’s intent is to alleviate the stress from his/her heart.


Empathize but Don’t Believe It.



וכמו שכתוב ביומא (דף עה.) על הפסוק (משלי י''ב כ''ה) ''דאגה בלב איש ישחנה'' ישיחנה לאחרים וישיחנה מדעתו, שעל ידי שמספר לאחרים דאגתו יוקל לו. (ואף שיש בדבריה לשון הרע בשעה שהיא מתרתחת על אחרים, מותר לשמע דבריה בלי להאמין ולקבל, כדי להרגיע אותה, ואולי גם להוציא הגנאי מלבה).


As a spouse, I must empathize with your feelings about the way you perceived the situation. This is a toeles, but internally I cannot believe that the facts were the way your story presents them. That would constitute kabalas lashon hara.




[1] Vayikra 19:3

[2] Aruch Hashulchan 240: 24 when living in the same home as a parent, it is unnecessary to stand up every time the parent enters the room. Rather, the child should stand up to his/her full height when the parent comes home. Sephardim should ask a Sephardic rabbi if they must rise every time the parent enters the room.

[3] Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240: 7

[4] Sefer HaChinuch mitzvah 33

[5] Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240: 19

[6] Rav Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz 7 November 1878 Kosava, Grodno Governorate, Russian Empire – 24 October 1953 Bnei Brak, Israel. Leader of Torah Judaism in Eretz Yisrael.


[7] So as not to undermine the respect for the institution of parenthood, as well as to provide the children with the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah.


[8] Even when parents absolve children from displaying specific forms of respect to them, if the child does display that respect anyway, he/she does fulfill a mitzvah [Radvaz Vol. 1 Responsum 220].


[9] וְשָׁמְרוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת לְדֹרֹתָם בְּרִית עוֹלָם:  בֵּינִי וּבֵין בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹת הִוא לְעֹלָם כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה יְ-ה-וָֹ-ה אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שָׁבַת ויִּנָּפַשׁ: (שמות ל"א: ט"ז, י"ז: קידוש יום שבת)


The commentators explain that aside from the fact that G-d made the world in 6 days, but G-d made the world for 6 days. At the end of six days, the world comes back to its source to rejuvenate on Shabbos.

The way that we keep and honor the Shabbos directly affects the degree of blessing Hashem makes flow into the next weekly cycle of creation. This notion is hinted in the words לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת לְדֹרֹתָם בְּרִית עוֹלָם “By Yisrael safeguarding the Shabbos, they will actually “make Shabbos”. This is an eternal covenant for all generations.”


[10] The holy books [שער הכוונות דרוש תפילת ליל שבת] stress the deep significance in kissing one’s mothers hands on Friday night. The Shechina is referred to as our mother.  As our sages write, “When a person comes home from Shul on Friday night, he is flanked on either side with angels while the Shechina is hovering above his head like a mother hovering above her children [Zohar Chadash P. Acharei]”


Thus, when we kiss our mother’s hand, it signifies a deep connection to the Shechina, appropriate for Friday night when we draw upon the blessings that the Shechina is ready to offer us.


Jews who are inspired by kabbala have the minhag to go to kiss their mother’s and father’s hand on Friday night even after they are married and out of the house.


[11] Many explanations for the minhag to bentch the children on Friday night are offered.

  1. Kiddush time is a propitious time, an eis ratzon for brachos to be accepted.
  2. The nefesh yeseira which comes to the souls of the parents at this time gives them more of a spiritual capacity to draw blessings on to their children.
  3. During the week, parents might get annoyed at the children. On the night of bracha, we do not want there to be any interference in the flow of bracha to the children, so the parents bentch the children.
  4. Kiddush time is a time for teshuva and a person’s sins can be forgiven.

(According to some, the eitz hada’as was a grapevine. Adam was supposed to wait until kiddush to drink the wine, but he drank it too early. Thus impulsiveness was the root and source of all human sin. Thus Kiddush is a time for teshuva from our sins.

Moreover, since kiddush is the time when we say testimony that Hashem created the world, it is appropriate to commit to follow His Word and do Teshuva.)

The blessings of sin-free parents have a special potency.


So in fact, the children go kiss their parent’s hand (15 parts including the palm), inspiring the giving aspect of the parent’s hand and then the parents bless them with the 15 word bracha of יְבָרֶכְךָ יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ: יָאֵר יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ: יִשָּׂא יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם:.


15 is in fact the number which represents Shalom Bayis. In Hebrew a man is איש  and a woman is  אשה the letters א and ש are the same. The unique letters are י for the man and ה for the woman.  The numerical value of י is 10 and of ה is 5. When you add the two letters together you receive 15. 10+5=15.


Shabbos is also the day when the physical world comes home and receives its infusion of spirituality for the next week. There is “shalom bayis” in the entire universe, when our world comes back to its source and receives the flow of spirituality from the spiritual world. (Whatever this means but our sages say that the spiritual world was created with the letter י and the physical world was created with the letter ה. Again, 15 together.


[As noted before, the more careful we are about treating Shabbos, infusing our experience with kedusha and mitzvos and properly avoiding transgressing Shabbos, the more we open the channels of blessings in our world to enable our world to receive more of the brachos Shabbos offers.]


This in fact is one explanation behind a shabbos aufruf or shabbos kalla. The sanctity of the upcoming wedding draws its spiritual energy from the preceding Shabbos.


In a similar vein, Pesach is preceded by a Shabbos Hagadol and Yom Kippur is preceded by a Shabbos Teshuva.


The idea being that all of the spiritual energy that the week has to offer is rooted in the previous Shabbos, as sung in the Lecha Dodi –

לִקְרַאת שבָּת לְכוּ וְנֵלְכָה. כִּי הִיא מְקור הַבְּרָכָה let’s go and meet the Shabbos for she is the source of blessing.


How I Overcame a Shabbos Struggle: (Names Changed)

To say that Ahuvi was living on a tight budget was an understatement. Nonetheless, last week she was able to stock her refrigerator. She felt very grateful that she had what she needed for Shabbos and the following few days.

Friday afternoon was particularly calm as she really managed to have everything under control with time to participate in a neighbor’s bris in the morning. In fact, she had time to send a Good Shabbos email with the Shabbos times in LA to an acquaintance who committed to keep Shabbos that week.

She even lit the Shabbos candles five minutes early. Peace reigned in the house as she rested and waited for her husband to come home from shul.

In came her husband accompanied by the invisible angels and the Shechina hovering over his head. "שבת שלום ומבורך". The two great each other and the children. Ahuvi gets up to continue preparing the food for the סעודה. She opens the refrigerator and lo! Behold all forgot to turn off the light and motor and switch the refrigerator to Shabbos mode. Now she cannot close the refrigerator, all her food might spoil and even if one of the little kids closes it, what will she do tomorrow?

Of course, she wouldn’t sneak and “accidentally close the door”. She was שומר שבת and has יראת שמים, but the thought of all of the food going to waste was weighing heavily on her conscious. She was worried. Ahuvi felt as though she was really giving up for Shabbos. It was hard.

Then she thought, “Wait! I’m worried about the financial loss I will incur for keeping Shabbos? Shabbos is the Source of Bracha! On the contrary, Hashem wants one day to give me a bracha of parnassa so He is giving me an opportunity to overcome a Shabbos challenge. By being shomer Shabbos when it is hard I am sure that I will be tapping in to a wellspring of bracha.”

No more was Ahuvi worried about the potential loss of her food.



[12] Family Structure & Secular Society:

On Sukkos, we read the following eye-opening Pesukim in the Haftara following Krias HaTorah from the end of Sefer Zacharia (14; 16-18).

{טז}  וְהָיָה כָּל הַנּוֹתָר מִכָּל הַגּוֹיִם הַבָּאִים עַל יְרוּשָׁלִָם וְעָלוּ מִדֵּי שָׁנָה בְשָׁנָה לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹת לְמֶלֶךְ יְ-ה-וָ-ה צְבָא-וֹת וְלָחֹג אֶת חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת: {יז} וְהָיָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא יַעֲלֶה מֵאֵת מִשְׁפְּחוֹת הָאָרֶץ אֶל יְרוּשָׁלִַם לְהִשְׁתַּחֲוֹת לְמֶלֶךְ יְ-ה-וָ-ה צְבָא-וֹת וְלֹא עֲלֵיהֶם יִהְיֶה הַגָּשֶׁם: {יח} וְאִם מִשְׁפַּחַת מִצְרַיִם לֹא תַעֲלֶה וְלֹא בָאָה וְלֹא עֲלֵיהֶם תִּהְיֶה הַמַּגֵּפָה אֲשֶׁר יִגֹּף יְ-ה-וָ-ה אֶת הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יַעֲלוּ לָחֹג אֶת חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת:

And it will come to pass that all of the gentiles who remain at the end of time who come to Yerushalayim, will make an annual pilgrimage to Yerushalayim to celebrate Sukkos. And those families that choose to remain behind rather than join the pilgrimage and bow down before Hashem will not bestow upon them rain etc. and if Egyptian families will not go up to Yerushalayim, and come to the Beis Hamikdash on Sukkos, them and any nation who does not join, will be smitten with a pestilence.

Rav Hirsch notes the interesting use of the words מִשְׁפַּחַת מִצְרַיִם and מִשְׁפְּחוֹת הָאָרֶץ.

Nationhood will have disappeared, for nationhood is an arbitrary manmade invention. Only families will remain. Gentiles who belong to families, who uphold family values, will merit a chance to join the Messianic experience.


[13] Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240: 2

[14] Rav Moshe Feinstein Yoreh Deah I § 133

[15] וכן אמרי האב שמחל על כבודו, כבודו מחול הני מילי כבודו אבל הכאתו וקללתו לא. (שאילתות דר' אחאי גאון ס')

[16] Discussion Point:

When Yaakov Avinu comes in to Yitzchak Avinu to attain the bracha, the Pasuk says:

וַיָּבֹא אֶל אָבִיו וַיֹּאמֶר אָבִי וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֶּנִּי מִי אַתָּה בְּנִי: (בראשית מ"ח: ט"ז)

“And he came to his father and said, ‘Father,’ and he said, ‘Here I am. Who are you my son?’”


Yaakov Avinu respectfully refers to his father by calling him אָבִי. Yet, each night before we go to sleep, we recite the bracha that Yaakov Avinu gave Yosef’s children Menashe and Efraim before he died.

הַמַּלְאָךְ הַגֹּאֵל אֹתִי מִכָּל רָע יְבָרֵךְ אֶת הַנְּעָרִים וְיִקָּרֵא בָהֶם שְׁמִי וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק וְיִדְגּוּ לָרֹב בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ: (בראשית מ"ח: ט"ז)

“The Angel who redeemed me from all evil should bless the children and may my name be declared on them, and the names of my forefathers Avraham and Yitzchak. And may the reproduce abundantly like fish within the land.”

How was Yaakov Avinu permitted now to refer to his father and grandfather by their first names?

What did Yaakov Avinu mean when he said, וְיִקָּרֵא בָהֶם שְׁמִי וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי?

Perhaps these explanations can lend an idea:

  1. The children should develop to reach the madreigos of their forefathers. His forefather’s names became icons of perfection. [אור החיים הקדוש]
  2. Hashem should love to refer to their names as He loves to refer to the names of their forefathers. [אור החיים הקדוש]
  3. They should receive the brachos represented by our names:

 ישראל They should be Tzaddikim and have Yiras Shomayim with complete control over their יצרי הרע . יעקב like Tzaddikim, while things begin with difficulty they should end with success.  אברהם They should positively affect the nations of the world. יצחק Their lives should be filled with joy. [כלי יקר]

  1. They should always align themselves with their forefathers and call their children by the names of their forefathers. [רמב"ן]
  2. He prefaced their names with the words וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי.

[17] וזה שכתבו: אלא אומר "אבא מרי" – הוא בדבר הלכה כשאומר משמו, שבזה שייך לומר "מורי". אבל במילי דעלמא – צריך לומר "אבא פלוני", דמה שייך "מורי" למילי דעלמא? וכן נראה עיקר.(ערוך השלחן ר"מ: ט"ו)

When quoting a parent’s teachings, one should say, “My father/mother my teacher.” When quoting them with regards to mundane issues, “father/mother” is sufficient.


[18] What should one do if she is asked, “What is your mother’s name?” Answer: “Mrs. Sara Berger!” Do not say, “Sara Berger.” Alternatively, one can say, “My mother’s name is Sara Berger,” making sure to preface her name by saying, “my mother.”

[19] רמב"ם הלכות חובל ומזיק פרק ה' הלכה א'

[20] In contrast; If you smile at the world, it will smile back.

[21] אמר רב יהודה אמר רב יודעין היו ישראל בעבודת כוכבים שאין בה ממש, ולא עבדו עבודת כוכבים אלא להתיר להם עריות בפרהסיא (מסכת סנהדרין דף ס"ג.)

Rav Yehuda taught in the name of his Rebbe, Rav: “The Jews knew that idolatry was worthless. Instead, they served idolatry in order to act adulterously in public, and unabashed.”


שלכל אחד מישראל נקודה פנימית הדבוקה בה', וכן אמרו ז"ל שמעולם לא עבדו ישראל עבודה זרה מרצון פנימי אליה, אלא כדי להתיר להם עריות וכו' (מכתב מאליהו חלק ב עמוד ק, עיצומו של יום)


Very often, we may think up of questions against Hashem and Yiddishkeit. They may even sound very intellectual. Sometimes, the people to whom we speak may not even be able to offer us satisfying answers. We take these questions, throw off degrees of our Judaism, justifying our behavior because of our questions.


Chazal in their piercing wisdom reveal to us that every Jewish Neshama stood at Sinai. We all heard G-d’s Word, “I am Hashem Your G-d.” That emblazoned in the depth of every Jewish soul the unquestionable clarity and commitment to Hashem and His Torah. There is no question that can motivate us to swerve from our commitment.


Instead, our desire to live a lustful and promiscuous life without boundaries and to excite our now and present senses without feeling self-conscious and guilty about it motivates our minds to contrive questions about Hashem and His Torah.


“How can we enjoy ourselves in the bar when we are feeling guilty about every moment that we are there?”


Our subconscious then use these “questions” to create an ideology in our mind, to justify our sinful behavior and to feel good about doing it too.

[22] Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt”l.

[23] מצוה על כל אדם לאהוב את כל אחד ואחד מישראל כגופו שנאמר ואהבת לרעך כמוך . לפיכך צריך לספר בשבחו ולחוס על ממונו כאשר הוא חס על ממון עצמו ורוצה בכבוד עצמו. והמתכבד בקלון חבירו אין לו חלק לעולם הבא: [רמב"ם דעות ו: ג]

[24] How can the girls talk about their mothers to one another like that? See discussion on Lashon Hara.

[25] Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder:

Tehilla and her mother’s chemistry are an awful fit. Living in a different city helped the situation. She keeps up with her mom, calling her once a week, while planning before each phone call what to speak about. Face to face visits though, are few and far between. She discovered that a long distance relationship works better for both of them.

[26] How Smiling Affects Those Around You (Psychology Today)

“Did you know that your smile is actually contagious?

The part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression of smiling when happy or mimicking another’s smile resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious automatic response area  In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, anger, fear and surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw. It took conscious effort to turn that smile upside down. So if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back. If they don’t, they’re making a conscious effort not to.

Looking at the bigger picture, each time you smile at a person, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. You are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, make you both more attractive and increase the chances of you both living longer, healthier lives.”

We know that all chochma can be found in the Torah, so let’s take a look at Shlomo Hamelech’s Mishlei 17: 22 and see what we find:

לֵב שָׂמֵחַ יֵיטִב גֵּהָה וְרוּחַ נְכֵאָה תְּיַבֶּשׁ גָּרֶם:

A happy heart improves the chances of healthy living but a depressed spirit dries up the bones.

Story: The Healing Heart

When I came to Yeshiva in 1996, a friend of mine Yanky was in remission. My friends told me while Yanky was in the hospital, there was a girl who unfortunately was suffering from a milder case of cancer in the next bed. Tragically, the girl did not pull through. Thankfully, Yanky miraculously did. The doctors said that they attribute Yanky’s survival to the incredible emotional support that his friends in Yeshiva gave him throughout his difficult ordeal. In the doctors’ view; Yanky’s friends gave him so much confidence and positive feelings that his body had the physical capacity to fight off the severe sickness. Their heartfelt fulfillment of bikur cholim literally gave him life. Yanky is now married BH.

כבוד חברך וכבוד עצמך | Emotional Support & Independence

[27] Rav Reuven Grozovsky zt”l (1886 Belarus -1958 USA, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaath and Beis Medrash Elyon, very involved in Vaad HaHatzalah saving Jews from Nazi’s and later from spiritual persecution in Eretz Yisrael) would say, “Every student needs a spoonful of respect every day.” We should be attuned to give the people around us respect. It energizes them and gives them the self-confidence to accomplish. As Shlomo HaMelech writes in Koheles 3: 9


טובים השנים מן האחד, אשר יש להם שכר טוב בעמלם. כי אם יפולו האחד יקים את חברו, ואילו האחד שיפול ואין שני להקימו,


Two are better than one, they have a good reward in their works. For if one falters, the other one can pick him up, but if he is alone and falls, who is there to pick him up…”


Nonetheless, on a personal level, a person should strive for him/herself to develop the feelings of self-confidence and self-worth – between him/her and Hashem; so that they should not depend upon what other people say or feel about them.  He/she should work towards becoming emotionally independent. This will give him/her the healthy freedom of fulfilling his/her personal role in life irrespective of what others have to say about him/her. It will enable a person to take control of situations rather than allowing situations to control the individual [Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz 1902–1979 Mir Rosh Yeshiva].


This in fact, was Dovid HaMelech’s life-story.  For the first 28 years of his life, everybody viewed him as an illegitimate child and ostracized him from society.


It was נצבת בת עדאל, his mother, who stood behind him, convinced him of his legitimacy and prodded him to persevere and develop his own feeling of self-worth and chart his unparalleled relationship with Hashem. It was Dovid HaMelech, the sweet singer of Yisrael, who sang אעירה שחר, I wake up the morning. I do not wait until the morning wakes me up.” I am proactive, not reactive. [Rav Yitzchok Berkovits].


Dovid became a King over his challenges. He would not succumb to the victim attitude which he could have used to bury him.


Even after he was anointed King, life was no picnic for Dovid. But he continued to persevere against all odds on account of the self-confidence his mother helped him achieve.


דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים King Dovid and his mother Nitzevet is alive in every Jew.  All of us have a spirit of Dovid. We can overcome derision and degradation and blossom into an aromatic garden.


Just look at what our grandparents accomplished over the past 70 years, after being led to the gas chambers!


ומהם שהבוטח באלקים יביאנו הבטחתו עליו שלא יעבוד זולתו ושלא יקוה לאיש ולא ייחל לבני אדם ולא יעבדם להתרצות אליהם ולא יחניף להם ולא יסכים עמהם בבלתי עבודת האלקים, ולא יפחידהו ענינם ולא יירא ממחלקותם

[28] Some Poskim rule that while a child is not required to pay for the parents’ provisions, the child is required to pay for the transportation needed to get to the parent, like for any other mitzvah.

[29] Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240: 25.

In Parshas Vayigash, as Yaakov Avinu was about to depart with his family to Mitzraim to join Yosef, the Pasuk tells us:

וַיִּסַּע יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכָל אֲשֶׁר לוֹ וַיָּבֹא בְּאֵרָה שָּׁבַע וַיִּזְבַּח זְבָחִים לֵאלֹהֵ-י אָבִיו יִצְחָק: (בראשית מ"ו: א)

“And Yisrael (Yaakov) traveled together with all that was his and he came to Be’er Sheva and he sacrificed korbanos to the G-d of Yitzchak his father.”


By stressing G-d of Yitzchak his father as opposed to G-d of Avraham his grandfather, the Torah is conveying to us that the degree that a person is required to honor his parent supersedes that that he is required to honor his grandparent [Rashi].

[30] Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 79: 1

[31] There is a halachic discussion whether a husband is required to pay for his wife’s medical care, if her sickness is due to her negligence (i.e. cancer due to smoking)? [Pischei Teshuva Even HaEzer 78:1 quotes two approaches on the matter].


Obviously, each particular situation must be presented to a competent halachic authority who understands relationships.


We will use this opportunity though, to discuss the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


Discussion Point: Healthy Living & The Women’s Bracha


Taking Care of one’s health and living a healthy lifestyle is a responsibility that we have to safeguard the encasing of our soul on this world which enables us to fulfill our uniquely defined life’s mission.


We underscore this notion of the importance of the maintenance of the bond between our souls by thanking Hashem for the wondrous workings of our bodies and the incredible body-soul bond we carry as long as we live – in the bracha of asher yatzar.


רוֹפֵא כָל בָּשָׂר וּמַפְלִיא לַעֲשׂוֹת:

“For G-d is the Healer of all flesh and performs a wondrous feat of conjoining the physical body and spiritual soul.”


Moreover, each one of our lives serve an integral role in the structure of G-d’s universe.


As girls, we recite a profound bracha daily which has many deep meanings, (which perhaps at a different venue we can expound upon the significance of this bracha.)


We proudly say בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלהֵ-ינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם. שֶׁעָשנִי כִּרְצונו: “May you Hashem or G-d, King of the universe be recognized, for He made ME according to His Will.


Hashem made ME according to His Will! There is a specific Will up High for ME, with all of my issues, emotional roller coasters, background and baggage! Wow! What a way to start off the day!



In terms of living a healthy lifestyle,  the Pesukim tells us: 

וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם מְאֹד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם כִּי לֹא רְאִיתֶם כָּל תְּמוּנָה בְּיוֹם דִּבֶּר יְ-ה-וָ-ה אֲלֵיכֶם בְּחֹרֵב מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵש" (ד', ט"ו);: "וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם מְאֹד." (ב', ד');: "הִשָמֵר לְךָ וּשְמוֹר נַפְשְךָ מְאוֹד" (ד', ט')


Rambam, Shulchan Aruch and Levush in Yoreh Deah 117 draw from here that failure to safeguard one’s physical life is a transgression:

שיש במשמעות אלו הלשונות שצריך האדם לשמור את נפשו שלא יביא את עצמו לידי סכנה, אף על גב שפשוטן של אלו הכתובים לא מיירי בזה (עוסק בזה), מכל מקום סמכו חז"ל על מקראות הללו ואסרו כל הדברים המביאין את האדם לידי סכנה. (לבוש)


As well as the negative prohibition to destructively harm oneself as in

 פֶּן יֹסִיף לְהַכֹּתוֹ (דברים כ"ה: ג)


Thus, the Chofetz Chaim in Likutei Amarim perek 13, based upon contemporary medical knowledge, forbids smoking.


  1. What about alcohol and substance abuse, mutilating, and anorexic behavior?


[32] It would be so advantageous for us to have a competent and tactful rabbinical authority with whom we feel comfortable to help us navigate contentious halachic issues we may encounter when working with our therapists.

[33] The 11th of the Rambam’s thirteen principals of faith is to believe in reward and punishment

אני מאמין באמונה שלימה שהבורא יתברך שמו גומל טוב לשומרי מצוותיו ומעניש לעוברי מצוותיו  :

[34] Brachos 10a

[35] וַתֹּאמֶר אֲחֹתוֹ אֶל בַּת פַּרְעֹה הַאֵלֵךְ וְקָרָאתִי לָךְ אִשָּׁה מֵינֶקֶת מִן הָעִבְרִיֹּת וְתֵינִק לָךְ אֶת הַיָּלֶד: (שמות ב': ז') מן העברית. שֶׁהֶחֱזִירַתּוּ עַל מִצְרִיּוֹת הַרְבֵּה לִינֹק וְלֹא יָנַק, לְפִי שֶׁהָיָה עָתִיד לְדַבֵּר עִם הַשְּׁכִינָה

(שמו"ר א,ל. סוטה שם): (רש"י)

Moshe refused to nurse from a non-Jewess because his mouth would ultimately talk with the Shechina. Every mother has to look at her infant as though he or she will ultimately talk with Hashem and as such, should avoid having the infant nurse from a non-Jewess. Such is the inherent potential of every Jewish child; boy or girl! [Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zt”l explaining Y.D. 81 Taz].



[36] Mayo Clinic: The mother’s food intake affects the flavor and qualities of the milk she produces. Alcohol, excessive caffeine, and mercury intake can negatively affect the infant’s development.


Almost any drug present in the bloodstream will transfer into the milk. Similarly, the tastes of the mother’s milk affects the taste appreciation tendencies of the child as he/she matures.


Parenthetically, cocaine is a small enough molecule to pass from a pregnant woman’s bloodstream across the placental barrier into the bloodstream of the fetus. Heroine too passes through the placental barrier to the fetus and can cause NAS.


(Note: More people die from overdose from pain relievers than from cocaine and from heroine.)


[37] Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 81 Taz


Strictly speaking, a child can nurse from a non-Jewess or a Jewish mother who had to eat non-kosher for health reasons. However, the Poskim strongly advise against nursing from a non-Jewess or a Jewish mother who had to eat non-kosher for health reasons the milk produced through that food, can adversely affect the middos and spiritual development of the infant later on in life.


Halachic Questions: 

The Halacha tells us that if a cow eats chometz on Pesach, we should not use the cow’s milk developed within 24 hours of the cow eating chometz.

(Milk formed from chometz eaten before Erev Pesach when chometz is permissible food does not pose a problem. Milk formed from chometz and non-chometz feed on Pesach is subject to Halachic discussion.)  

[Mishna Berura 448: 32].


Does the same Halacha apply to mother’s milk?


  • If a mother has to eat non-kosher, or chometz on Pesach, should she wait until she nurses her baby?
  • A convert who ate non-kosher before her conversion: how long should she wait until she nurses her baby?


[38] The holy books recommend a nursing woman who has gotten angry to express a bit of milk before nursing the baby. Can she do this on Shabbos?


Parenthetically, aside from the general prohibition of losing one’s temper, as Shlomo Hamelech writes in Kohelet (11: 10) וְהָסֵר כַּעַס מִלִּבֶּךָ וְהַעֲבֵר רָעָה מִבְּשָׂרֶךָ; and uproot anger from your heart and remove evil from your flesh -   the kabbalists warn for extra vigilance not to get angry on Shabbos.


 “לֹא תְבַעֲרוּ אֵשׁ בְּכֹל משְׁבֹתֵיכֶם בְּיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת Do not ignite a fire on Shabbos in all of your dwelling places” [Vaikra 35: 3], also insinuates that you should not lose your temper on Shabbos. Rather, peace should reign in your homes on Shabbos! [השל"ה הקדוש (לספר שמות, פרשת החודש]


For in the World of Retribution, there is no anger on Shabbos either; as those who daven nusach sefard quote the Zohar between Kabbalas Shabbos and Maariv on Friday night וְכָל שׁוּלְטָנֵי רוּגְזִין וּמָארֵי דְדִינָא כֻּלְּהוּ עַרְקִין וְאִתְעַבְּרוּ מִנָּהּ “And all the masters of anger and angles of punishment are expelled and removed from G-d’s presence on Shabbos.”


One who therefore, chas veshalom gets angry on Shabbos can cause dangerous consequences, concludes the של"ה הקדוש.


[39] The milk of an אשה צנועה mitigates the infant’s lustful desires. The milk of an אשה פרוצה enflames the lustful desires of the infant [Likutey Moharan 2:1: 4].


In fact, Sara Yocheved Rigler in Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup about Rebbitzen Henny Machlis (pg. 36) writes that this concept applies to preparing food as well. “The energy that is exerted into one’s food preparation, writes R Nachman of Breslev affects the personalities of those who eat the food.


So if you cook with a lot of anger; you can give people food poisoning. But if you cook with joy, you can give them good health.  Thus, Rebbitzen Perl, the wife of Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev would pray before she cooked that the people who eat her food should imbibe Yiras shomayim and do teshuva.”


I have a special aunt in South Africa who has dealt with many painful challenges in her life.  May Hashem give her the strength to persevere! Shabbos guests, especially newcomers to yiddishkeit, at her Shabbos table are commonplace. Whenever she bakes challah, she prays to Hashem that the challah should come out tasting really good so it makes a Kiddush Hashem.


[40] שמואל א א כ"ב

[41] תהלים צ"ט: ו'

[42] Although, in terms of levels of prophecy, none exceeded the clarity of Moshe Rabbeinu’s as the Torah says;

וְלֹא קָם נָבִיא עוֹד בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמֹשֶׁה אֲשֶׁר יְדָעוֹ יְ-ה-וָ-ה פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים. (דברים ל"ד: י')

And no prophet will arise within the Jewish people on Moshe’s stature who merited an absolute clarity of prophetic vision.

The Rambam includes this doctrine  as the seventh of the thirteen principles of faith as we say,

 אֲנִי מַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה. שֶׁנְּבוּאַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם הָיְתָה אֲמִתִּית. וְשֶׁהוּא הָיָה אָב לַנְּבִיאִים. לַקּוֹדְמִים לְפָנָיו וְלַבָּאִים אַחֲרָיו: (נבואת משה)

[43] כִּי אִם שָׁמֹר תִּשְׁמְרוּן אֶת כָּל הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם לַעֲשֹׂתָהּ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת יְ-ה-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם לָלֶכֶת בְּכָל דְּרָכָיו וּלְדָבְקָה בוֹ (דברים י"א: כ"ב)

עַל כֵּן יַעֲזָב אִישׁ אֶת אָבִיו וְאֶת אִמּוֹ וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ וְהָיוּ לְבָשָׂר אֶחָד. (בראשית ב: כ"ד)

Just like there is a mitzvah to develop an individual emotional attachment to one’s spouse, and no two marriages are the same; so too there is a mitzvah for everyone to develop an emotional yearning and relationship with Hashem; and as no two people have the same experiences in life, no two people can have the same relationship with Hashem. Each person can and must develop a unique emotional relationship with Hashem that no one else can do [Ha’amek Davar, Devarim 6:5].


[44] דרך ד' לרמח"ל

[45] דברים ח: ג

[46]  כִּי יְ-הֹ-וָ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ מְבִיאֲךָ אֶל אֶרֶץ טוֹבָה אֶרֶץ נַחֲלֵי מָיִם עֲיָנֹת וּתְהֹמֹת יֹצְאִים בַּבִּקְעָה וּבָהָר: אֶרֶץ (1) חִטָּה (2) וּשְׂעֹרָה (3) וְגֶפֶן (4) וּתְאֵנָה (5) וְרִמּוֹן אֶרֶץ (6) זֵית שֶׁמֶן (7) וּדְבָשׁ: (דברים ח: ז'-ח')

“For Hashem Your G-d ids bringing you to a good land, a land with streams of water, of springs and underground water coming forth in valley and mountain. A land of wheat and barley and grape and fig and pomegranate; a land of oil olives and sweet dates.”

[47] Wheat, spelt, barley, oats and rye.

[48] Note: We recite this bracha even if the produce did not grow in Eretz Yisrael. Nonetheless, we do slightly alter the last words of the bracha על הארץ ועל הפירות  to על הארץ ועל פירותיה and על הארץ ועל פרי הגפן to על הארץ ועל פרי גפנה when having eaten fruit or having drunk wine from Eretz Yisrael.

[49] R -

[50] כלי יקר שמות כ: י"ב

[51] ספר החינוך מצוה ל"ג

[52] Rav Moshe Chaim +- 1707 in Padua – 16 May 1746 in Akko (26 Iyar 5506). Ramchal himself lived a very difficult life.

[53] Written by Rav Yehuda HaChassid, one of our Rishonim who lived in Germany between the later 1200s to early 1300s.

[54] R Ovadia Seforno late 1400s to mid1500s Rome and Bologna Italy

[55] דברים ח': ב'

[56] See Rav Schwab on Prayer

[57] Rav Yaakov ben Rav Aharon Ettlinger, 1798-1871, the Gadol Hador in Germany, became one of the fiercest opponents to Reform Judaism, rebbe of Rav Hirsch and Rav Ezriel Hildesheimer, authored many authoritative works on Gemara and Halacha.

[58] אביי אמר כדתניא (דברים ו, ה) ואהבת את ה' אלהיך שיהא שם שמים מתאהב על ידך שיהא קורא ושונה ומשמש ת"ח ויהא משאו ומתנו בנחת עם הבריות מה הבריות אומרות עליו אשרי אביו שלמדו תורה אשרי רבו שלמדו תורה אוי להם לבריות שלא למדו תורה פלוני שלמדו תורה ראו כמה נאים דרכיו כמה מתוקנים מעשיו עליו הכתוב אומר (ישעיהו מט, ג) ויאמר לי עבדי אתה ישראל אשר בך אתפאר


אבל מי שקורא ושונה ומשמש ת"ח ואין משאו ומתנו באמונה ואין דבורו בנחת עם הבריות מה הבריות אומרות עליו אוי לו לפלוני שלמד תורה אוי לו לאביו שלמדו תורה אוי לו לרבו שלמדו תורה פלוני שלמד תורה ראו כמה מקולקלין מעשיו וכמה מכוערין דרכיו ועליו הכתוב אומר (יחזקאל לו, כ) באמור להם עם ה' אלה ומארצו יצאו


If you love your friend, you want others to love him/her as well. Loving Hashem means that you want other people to develop a love for Him as well. How do you accomplish that? If you study Torah and incorporate its values in your personality by behaving in a pleasant way, others will be positively drawn by your personality and will want to follow your example.


[59] Rav Yechiel Michel Halevi Epstein (24 January 1829 – 24 February 1908) Rav of Navardok

[60] For a Sephardic father, gambling is forbidden. For an Ashkenazic father, many types of gambling (a competent monetary Halacha Rabbi should consulted as Mishna Berura sides with Sephardic ruling) might be permitted provided it is not an addiction, will not lead to an addiction, preoccupation, or indicative of a sinful lifestyle.

[61] As it is forbidden for a person to unnecessarily harm oneself, one needs a heter to do undergo elective surgery. Every situation should be brought to a competent halachic authority who will determine under what conditions one could or should undergo elective invasive surgery.

[62] 1913- 2001, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaath, Head of Torah Umesorah. Rabbi Pam was totally unassuming; in his dress, his speech, as well as in his mannerisms. Rabbi Pam was a great Talmudic scholar, but he was famous for his humility and soft-spoken style. He was one of the great spiritual leaders of our generation and a member of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel.

[63] אסור לאדם לחבול בין בעצמו בין בחבירו (רמב"ם הלכות חובל ומזיק פרק ה' הלכה א')

[64] Responsum 68 of R Akiva Eiger.

Very important: The Maharik offers 3 explanations. Can we assume that Shulchan Aruch rules for certain that a child is not required to obey a parent when the order has nothing to do with the parent’s needs? It’s hard to make such a convincing argument, because the only example that Shulchan Aruch gives which has nothing to do with the parent is marriage, of which the Maharik uses three arguments to support his ruling. Perhaps, you need more than one of his reasons to permit one to disobey one’s parent.


Thus, in practice, a child is generally required to obey a parent even when told to do things which are not strictly servicing the parent. In addition, if the parent is aware of the disobedience, the child is guilty of disobeying the parent or causing the parent anguish. Exceptions would include, when the parent’s order would severely harm the child’s emotional state.  Under such circumstances we absolve the child from sacrificing his/her emotional wellbeing to honor parents. This is an example of משל בן for which Kibbud Av Va’eim does not require.


In extremely tenuous situations, a Rav may permit you to rely on this ruling alone and not obey them on issues that do not involve their personal service so long as they do not find out about it and it does not cause them pain. However, as we are dealing here with the gravity of Biblical Commandments, each individual situation and circumstance must be addressed to a competent Rav who understands relationships for halachic and strategic guidance. 

[65] Think of Rachel Eishes R Akiva who married Rabbi Akiva because she saw his middos tovos and potential…

[66] (In certain extreme situations, a competent Poseik in touch with one’s therapist may even advise the child to take an abusive parent to Beis Din.)

[67] Rav Elazar Dovid Fleckless 1754-1826 born in Prague. Dayan in Moravia (Austria) and then in Prague. Fighter against the Reform movement and the followers of Shabbtai Tzvi, the false Messiah.

[68] 1885-1969 Rav Elyashiv’s father-in-law. The rabbi of the Prisoners. Suggested Reading “A Tzaddik in our Times.”

[69]  gift giving,  quality time,  words of affirmation, acts of service (devotion), and physical touch


[i] כלי יקר

כבד את אביך ואת אמך. במצוה זו חתם חמשה דברות ראשונות המדברים בכבוד המקום ברוך הוא כי מטעם זה נאמר בכולם ה' אלהיך ולא הזכיר השם בכל ה' דברות אחרונות המדברים בדברים שבין אדם לחבירו, ומצות כבוד אב ואם אע"פ שהוא בין אדם לחבירו מ"מ מצוה זו נוגעת גם בכבוד המקום ברוך הוא לפי שג' שותפין באדם הקב"ה ואביו ואמו, ואם תכבד אב ואם בעבור שמהם נוצר החומר והגוף הכלה והבלה ק"ו בן בנו של ק"ו שתכבד את אביך שבשמים אשר נתן בך הנשמה החלק המעולה הקיים לנצח. ובמס' קידושין (ל;) ת"ר ג' שותפים באדם כו' ומסיק שם בזמן שאדם מכבד את אביו ואמו מעלה אני עליכם כאילו דרתי ביניכם וכבדוני וקשה דירה מאן דכר שמיה ומהיכן למדו לומר כאילו דרתי ביניכם, ודאי למדו זה ממה שמצינו שבכל ה' דברות אחרונות לא נזכר השם לפי שמדברים בדברים שבין אדם לחבירו וא"כ למה הזכיר ה' אלהיך אצל כיבוד אב ואם, אלא שעשה הקב"ה דירה לשמו הגדול ית' אצל אב ואם לומר שהמכבד אב ואם כאילו דרתי ביניכם וכבדוני.


וע"כ שכרו אריכות ימים כי הדבקות בה' מקור חיים נותן חיים ארוכים אל האדם, ואם הוא מכבד אב ואם בעבור שמהם נוצר החומר אם כן גם הנשמה חלק אלוה ממעל תתן כבוד לאביה שבשמים ועל ידי הדבקות שיש לה עמו תזכה לאריכות ימים כמ"ש (דברים ד.ד) ואתם הדבקים בה' אלהיכם חיים כלכם היום.


[ii] מסילת ישרים

יסוד החסידות ושרש העבודה התמימה הוא שיתברר ויתאמת אצל האדם מה חובתו בעולמו ולמה צריך שישים מבטו ומגמתו בכל אשר הוא עמל כל ימי חייו. והנה מה שהורונו חכמינו זכרונם לברכה הוא, שהאדם לא נברא אלא להתענג על ה' ולהנות מזיו שכינתו שזהו התענוג האמיתי והעידון הגדול מכל העידונים שיכולים להמצא. ומקום העידון הזה באמת הוא העולם הבא, כי הוא הנברא בהכנה המצטרכת לדבר הזה. אך הדרך כדי להגיע אל מחוז חפצנו זה, הוא זה העולם. והוא מה שאמרו זכרונם לברכה (אבות ד, טז) העולם הזה דומה לפרוזדור בפני העולם הבא. והאמצעים המגיעים את האדם לתכלית הזה, הם המצוות אשר צונו עליהן האל יתברך שמו. ומקום עשיית המצוות הוא רק העולם הזה. על כן הושם האדם בזה העולם בתחלה כדי שעל ידי האמצעים האלה המזדמנים לו כאן יוכל להגיע אל המקום אשר הוכן לו, שהוא העולם הבא, לרוות שם בטוב אשר קנה לו על ידי אמצעים אלה. והוא מה שאמרו, זכרונם לברכה (עירובין כב א) היום לעשותם ומחר לקבל שכרם.

ותראה באמת שכבר לא יוכל שום בעל שכל להאמין שתכלית בריאת האדם הוא למצבו בעולם הזה, כי מה הם חיי האדם בעולם הזה, או מי הוא ששמח ושליו ממש בעולם הזה. ימי שנותינו בהם שבעים שנה ואם בגבורות שמונים שנה ורהבם עמל ואון, (תהלים צ, י), בכמה מיני צער וחלאים ומכאובים וטרדות, ואחר כל זאת, המות. אחד מני אלף לא ימצא שירבה העולם לו הנאות ושלוה אמיתית. וגם הוא, אילו יגיע למאה שנה כבר עבר ובטל מן העולם.

ולא עוד אלא שאם תכלית בריאת האדם היה לצורך העולם הזה, לא היה צריך מפני זה שתנופח בו נשמה כל כך חשובה ועליונה שתהיה גדולה יותר מן המלאכים עצמם, כל שכן שהיא אינה מוצאה שום נחת רוח בכל עינוגי זה העולם. והוא מה שלמדונו זכרונם לברכה במדרש קהלת, זו לשונם (קהלת רבה ו, ו) וגם הנפש לא תמלא, משל למה הדבר דומה, לעירוני שנשא בת מלך, אם יביא לה כל מה שבעולם, אינם חשובים לה כלום, שהיא בת מלך כך הנפש, אילו הבאת לה כל מעדני עולם, אינם כלום לה, למה שהיא מן העליונים.

וכן אמרו רבותינו זכרונם לברכה (אבות ד, כב) על כרחך אתה נוצר ועל כרחך אתה נולד. כי אין הנשמה אוהבת העולם הזה כלל אלא אדרבא מואסת בו. אם כן ודאי לא היה בורא הבורא יתברך בריאה לתכלית שהוא נגד חוקה ונמאס ממנה. אלא בריאתו של האדם, למצבו בעולם הבא היא. ועל כן ניתנה בו נשמה זאת, כי לה ראוי לעבוד, ובה יוכל האדם לקבל השכר במקומו וזמנו, שלא יהיה דבר נמאס אל נשמתו בעולם הזה, אלא אדרבא נאהב ונחמד ממנה, וזה פשוט.

והנה אחר שידענו זה, נבין מיד חומר המצוות אשר עלינו ויקר העבודה אשר בידינו, כי הנה אלה הם האמצעים המביאים אותנו אל השלמות האמיתי, אשר בלעדם לא יושג כלל, ואולם ידוע כי אין התכלית מגיע אלא מכח קיבוץ כל האמצעים אשר נמצאו ואשר שימשו להגיעו. וכפי כח האמצעים ושימושם, כן יהיה התכלית הנולד מהם. וכל הפרש קטן שימצא באמצעים, תבחן תולדתו בבירור ודאי בהגיע זמן התכלית הנולד מקיבוץ כולם, כמו שכתבתי, וזה ברור. מעתה ודאי הוא, שהדקדוק שידקדק על ענין המצות והעבודה, מוכרח שיהיה בתכלית הדקדוק כאשר ידקדקו שוקלי הזהב והפנינים לרוב יקרם, כי תולדתם נולדת בשלמות האמיתי והיקר הנצחי שאין יקר למעלה ממנו.


[iii] רמב"ן י"ט: יז 

לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך. בעבור שדרך השונאים לכסות את שנאתם בלבם כמו שאמר (משלי כו כד) בשפתיו ינכר שונא הזכיר הכתוב בהווה ואמר הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך מצוה אחרת ללמדו תוכחת מוסר "ולא תשא עליו חטא" שיהיה עליך אשם כאשר יחטא ולא הוכחת אותו ולזה יטה לשון אונקלוס שאמר ולא תקבל על דיליה חובא שלא תקבל אתה עונש בחטא שלו ואחרי כן צוה שתאהוב אותו והנה השונא את רעהו עובר בלאו והאוהב לו מקיים עשה והנכון בעיני כי "הוכח תוכיח" כמו והוכיח אברהם את אבימלך (בראשית כא כה) ויאמר הכתוב אל תשנא את אחיך בלבבך בעשותו לך שלא כרצונך אבל תוכיחנו מדוע ככה עשית עמדי? ולא תשא עליו חטא לכסות שנאתו בלבך ולא תגיד לו כי בהוכיחך אותו יתנצל לך או ישוב ויתודה על חטאו ותכפר לו ואחרי כן יזהיר שלא תנקום ממנו ולא תטור בלבבך מה שעשה לך כי יתכן שלא ישנא אותו אבל יזכור החטא בלבו ולפיכך יזהירנו שימחה פשע אחיו וחטאתו מלבו ואחרי כן יצוה שיאהב לו כמוהו


[iv] 2שו"ת מהרי"ק סימן קסו

(ג) ואשר נסתפקת אם יש כח ביד האב למחות ביד בנו לישא אשה אשר יחפוץ בה הבן לע"ד נראה שאם היא אשה ההוגגת /ההוגנת/ לו שאין כח ביד האב למחות ביד הבן חדא דאפילו לענין ממון אודי ליה רבנן לרבי ירמיה כמאן דאמר משל האב וכן פסקו כל פוסקי הלכות אשר ראיתי כל שכן הכא שהוא דבר השייך בצער' דגופא להניח דאשה /האשה/ אשר חפץ בה ויצטרך לקחת אשה אחרת אשר לא תישר בעיניו כל כך ועוד דקרוב הדבר בעיני להיות כמצוה לעבור על דברי תורה שהרי אמרו רבותינו ז"ל אסור לאדם שיקדש את האשה עד שיראנה אלא שעכשיו הותר פן יקדימנו אחר כמו שכתבו התוספות והפוסקים הרי שהקפידו שיקח אשה אשר יחפוץ בה ותמצא חן בעיניו וכן בכמה מקומות חשו חכמים ז"ל לחבב האשה על בעלה וכבר השיב רבינו אשר דאם האב מצווה על בנו שלא ידבר עם פלוני ולא ימחול לו על מה שעשה לו עד זמן קצוב שאם הבן רוצה להשלים שאין לחוש לצואת אביו מפני שאסור לשנא שום יהודי כולי כדאית' בטור י"ד הכא נמי לא שנא לפי הנלע"ד מאחר שיש /בדבר/ בדבד נדנוד עבירה כו' כדפי' לעיל. ועוד דעד כאן לא מיפלגי אם משל אב אם משל בן אלא בדבר דשייך האב בגווה פרנסת האב שצורך גוף האב וקיומו אבל במלתא דלא שייך בגווי' כי הכא פשיט' דאין כח לאב למחות בבן לא משום כבוד ולא משום מורא

5שו"ת שבט הלוי חלק ב סימן קיא  

יז. סכ"ה ברמ"א, וכן אם האב מוחה בבן לישא איזה אשה שיחפוץ בה הבן א"צ לשמוע אל האב. במהרי"ק שם סוף שורש קס"ו מוכח דהאי אשה שדן עליה היתה נטענת ממנו בעודה אשת איש, ואעפי"כ היה דן המהרי"ק דהצדק עם הבן כיון דישרה בעיניו (לולא השבועה שנשבע הבן יע"ש) ואעפ"י דבסתמא גם זה הי' מטענת אביו מלמחות בבן שלא ישא אותה כיון דיש קול דנחשד עליה, וזילא ביה מילתא באב ומשפחתו, ואעפי"כ אם מן הדין אין איסור הצדק עם הבן, ויש ללמוד מזה לכל כיו"ב, והוא חידוש בעיני וצ"ע, וכל פעם שבא שאלה כזאת לפנינו אני מחמיץ הדין וממתין אולי יראה הבן צדקת האב אם הוא טוען כבוד משפחה ואעפ"י דהדין עם הבן,...


[v]  (6תורה תמימה הערות בראשית פרק כח הערה ד  

ד) ועיין בפירש"י בפסוק זה השייך לפרטיות דרשא זו. - ודע שכתב מהרי"ק שורש קס"ז והובא ברמ"א ליו"ד ס"ס ר"מ בהלכות כבוד אב, דבענין נשואין לא שייך כבוד אב, והיינו אם האב מוחה בבנו שלא ישא אשה פלונית אין הבן מחוייב לשמוע לו אם רוצה בה, ועיי"ש בבאורי הגר"א, וצ"ע לפי"ז מפרשה זו שצוה יצחק על יעקב לא תקח אשה מבנות כנען (פ' א'), ואם מן הדין אינו מחויב לשמוע לו לא הו"ל לומר בלשון צואה אלא בלשון בקשה, דלא שייך צווי על דבר שלא יונח לשון צואה ופקודה. ואמנם יש סברא לומר, דאם כל בני המשפחה נזהרין להתחתן במשפחה ידועה, על כגון זה יש לאב לצות על בנו שלא יתחתן באותה משפחה, דכן מצינו בגמרא בענינים שונים שיש כח לבני משפחה למחות באחד מבני משפחתה שלא לשנות ממנהג המשפחה, וכאן היו האבות נזהרים להתחתן בכנען, וכמ"ש אברהם לאליעזר לא תקח אשה לבני מבנות כנען, ובפסחים נ' א' בא אברהם והזהיר על יצחק שלא להתחתן בכנען, מבואר שהי' אצלם מניעת חתון זה למסורת אבות, ולכן הי' בכחו של יצחק לפקוד על יעקב בזה, וחדוש שלא נתעוררו הפוסקים בענין זה:

ולי נראה דלהכי בירך יצחק את יעקב כשציוהו לשלול טענת משל בן לומר לו שאדרבה לא יפחות ממנו שום דבר אלא מציאותו מחייבת שמיעת ציוויו עפ"י האורהח"ק ועי' רשב"ם בטעותו של עשיו.


[vi] טור אבן העזר סימן ע"ד האומר לאשתו אין רצוני שיבואו לביתי אמך ואחיותיך שומעין לו ותהיה הולכת להם כשאירע להם דבר ותלך היא לבית אביה פעם אחד בחדש ובכל רגל ורגל ולא יכנסו הם לה אלא אם אירע לה דבר כגון חולי או לידה שאין כופין את האדם שיכנסו אחרים ברשותו

וכן היא שאמרה אין רצוני שיכנסו אצלי אביך ואמך ואחיותיך שומעין לה שאין כופין את האדם שיבאו אחרים ברשותו

בית יוסף ואני אומר אין אדם דר עם נחש בכפיפה אלא כך הוא עיקר הדבר שאם נראה לב"ד שהם מריעים ומצירים לה וגורמין לה קטטה עם בעלה הדין עמה ואם לאו לאו כל כמינה ובזה יפה כח הבעל מכחה לפי שהמדור הוא של בעל ואינה שלה ולפיכך אינה יכולה למחות על ידן אלא בטענה זהו דעתי עכ"ל

כנראה אם הדירה של שניהם כמו שמצוי בזמנינו אצל הרבה, אין נפק"מ בין הוא והיא...

Kid's Emotions     Issue #: 237

Kid's Emotions 'If a Jew hurts another Jew and the victim is embarrassed because of the phenomenon, ...

Kid's Emotions

'If a Jew hurts another Jew and the victim is embarrassed because of the phenomenon, the aggressor must pay the victim for the embarrassment as well as for the medical bills and damage caused [C.M. 420:3]

Theoretically, if the victim would be one who does not get embarrassed by such phenomenon, the aggressor would be absolved from paying for embarrassment.

The Talmud [Bava Kama 86b, C.M. 420: 37] states that some children get embarrassed and others do not.

Apparently, children nowadays do get mightily embarrassed and can become emotionally scarred for years.

Have times changed?

Chovas HaTalmidim:The Students' Obligation & Sheloshah Ma'amarim

The Holy Piaseczno Rebbe HY”D Rav Klonimous Kalman Shapiro zt’l, the “Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto Children” in his profound educational thesis “Chovos HaTalmidim” addresses this trend and explains why contemporary educational approaches must differ from ways of yore.

Children, he writes, generally used to develop emotionally in sinc with their physical, and cognitive development; in such, that a child who lacked the physical and cognitive maturity also lacked an emotional maturity.

Like a small baby, the child put his/her full trust in the parent or teacher and the authority trained the child to do good and stay away from danger pretty much like ‘hitting’ a baby who touches a hot oven - the child learned what behaviors hurt an what behaviors were rewarding.

However, says the Piaseczno zt’l, nowadays, while a child cognitively and physically remain immature, generally children are developing emotionally at earlier ages.

They develop feelings about people, the world, their environment far before they have reached significant forms of cognitive maturity.

The results can include, the fact that they do get embarrassed, they feel threatened by authority, they can easily misinterpret experiences and can more easily become emotionally scarred from corporeal punishment.

Accordingly, nowadays an aggressor would likely have to pay for the emotional embarrassment he/she causes to a child as a result of inflicting a wound.



Football with Dad, Ear Piercing & Self Inflicted Pain     Issue #: 236

Tackle Football, Paintball, Ear Piercing & Self Inflicted Pain   Camp was over. School ...

Tackle Football, Paintball, Ear Piercing & Self Inflicted Pain

Camp was over. School was yet begin in a week- and-a-half.

Baruch and Bracha Berger looked forward entertaining their blessed brood of boys for the duration thereof. All Bracha had scheduled for their newest addition, three-month-old Chani, the only girl in the Berger brood, was an ear piercing appointment.

Tackle football, paintball, family water balloon fights, seemed as exciting options for the boys.
  • May one play contact sports with a father?
  • What types of self-inflicted pain is permissible to undergo?
What's the Halacha?

The Answer

Tackle Football, Rugby, Paintball should not be played with a parent. See Detailed Explanation for which types of sports may be played with a parent as well as what type of self-inflicted pain is permissible for an individual to undergo.

Detailed Explanation
Tackle Football, Rugby, Paintball, Ear Piercing & Self Inflicted Pain invokes the following Halachos.

Hitting another Jew

אַרְבָּעִים יַכֶּנּוּ לֹא יֹסִיף פֶּן יֹסִיף לְהַכֹּתוֹ עַל אֵלֶּה מַכָּה רַבָּה וְנִקְלָה אָחִיךָ לְעֵינֶיךָ
When a willful sinner deserves to be flogged...Beis Din may not flog him/her more than he/she can physically handle [Devarim 25:3].

Certainly one Jew may not maliciously hit another upstanding Jew. This transgression is referred to as pen yosif.

Called Evil
וַיֵּצֵא בַּיּוֹם הַשֵּׁנִי וְהִנֵּה שְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים עִבְרִים נִצִּים וַיֹּאמֶר לָרָשָׁע לָמָּה תַכֶּה רֵעֶךָ
"[Moshe] went out the next day and observed two Jews fighting and said to the wicked one, 'Why do you wish to strike your fellow Jew?'" [Shemos 2: 13].

"Even though he has not hit him, he is called 'wicked one' through the mere raising of the arm with intent to hit"
[Rashi based on Reish Lakish in Sanhedrin 58b].

One who maliciously harms another Jew is excommunicated. No business dealings with him/her or including him in a Minyan are permitted until Beis Din ascertains that the aggressor repented [C.M. 420: 1 Rema]

Financial Liabilities
One who injures a fellow Jew must pay for damages, medical costs, loss of work, pain, and embarrassment when applicable [Shemos 21: 19, C.M. 420: 3] .

Self -Infliction
החובל בעצמו.. אינו רשאי ...

One is forbidden to destructively wound or pain him/herself [Bava Kama 91b].

אסור לאדם לחבול בין בעצמו בין בחבירו. ולא החובל בלבד אלא כלהמכה אדם כשר מישראל בין קטן בין גדול בין איש בין אשה דרךנציון הרי זה עובר בלא תעשה שנאמר לא יוסיף להכותו אם הזהירה תורה מלהוסיף בהכאת החוטא קל וחומר למכה את הצדיק:
It is forbidden to inflict a wound on oneself or another Jew. One who even hits a fellow Jew destructively and maliciously transgresses the sin included in the pen yosif prohibition). [Rambam Chovel Umazik 5:1].

Financial Liabilities
One who harms a fellow Jew transgresses a sin and must pay for damages, even if the victim is accustomed to harming or embarrassing him/herself [Choshen Mishpat 420: 3].

If a person harms him/herself he/she transgresses a sin but is obviously absolved from paying for damages [Choshen Mishpat 420: 31].

אסור להכות את חבירו אפילו הוא נותן לו רשות להכות וכי אין לאדם רשות על גופו כלל להכותו ולא לביישו ולא לצערו בשום צער אפילו במניעת איזה מאכל או משתה אלא אם כן עושה בדרך תשובה שצער זה טובה היא לו להציל נפשו משחת ולכן מותר להתענות לתשובה אפילו מי שאינו יכול להתענותומי שיכול להתענות מותראפילו שלא בדרך תשובה אלא כדי למרק נפשו להשאין טוב למעלה מטובה זו

The prohibition to destructively harm and the resultant financial liabilities are mutually exclusive.

Thus, it is forbidden to destructively harm your fellow, even if he/she effectively absolves you from paying for damages because a person does not even have the jurisdiction to even hit, harm, embarrass him/herself, engage in self-abstinence for a non-constructive purpose, let alone harm another Jew [Shulchan Aruch HaRav Nizkei Guf Venefesh 4, see below for examples of constructive purposes].

Medical Procedures
Operations for medical purposes are viewed as constructive medical procedures and not as an act of wanton wounding [Minchas Yitzchak 6: 105].

"You are children of Hashem ,your G-d. Do not cut yourselves and do not make a bald spot between your eyes over a dead person." [Devarim 14:1].

Cutting over the sadness of a loved one or as a form of idolatry is deserving of lashes [Y.D. 180: 5].  

Cutting as a way of dealing with any sadness is forbidden [Y.D. 180: Sha'ch 180:9].

In addition, cutting, self mutilation, anorexic behaviors are examples of destructive harm to oneself; 'malicious and wanton wounding' which are forbidden aside from indicative of psychological illnesses which must be addressed.

Endangering Oneself

It is forbidden to put oneself in mortal danger [Choshen Mishpat 427].

One is permitted to risk his life to earn a livelihood provided that the danger is not clear and present [Bava Metzia 112a, Rashi].

Contact Sports
Engaging in contact sports which could entail players harming each other is nevertheless permissible provided that the harm is not done maliciously. Malicious attempt to harm is prohibited even during a game is forbidden [Igros Moshe O.C. 3: 78].

Professional Sports
One who engages in professional sports where there is a risk of suffering a serious injury is not guilty of "putting one's life in peril" because one is permitted to put one's life in danger to earn a livelihood provided that the danger is not clear and present [Igros Moshe C.M. 2: 105].

Constructive Abstinence
One may choose to abstain from indulging in a permissible enjoyment in exchange for a greater enjoyment. Some examples of a 'better enjoyment ' include healthy dieting and not over indulging in materialism to achieve spiritual refinement [Igros Moshe Choshen Mishpat II 66, Shulchan Aruch HaRav Nizkei Guf Venefesh 4].

Cosmetic Surgery and Ear Piercing
While one may not pain or bruise himself/herself elective (cosmetic) surgery is permissible as the pain of not having the surgery is greater to the individual than not going through the procedure [Shu"t Avnei Nezer Y.D. 321].

Cosmetic surgery, ear piercing which is done for beauty is not considered 'destructive and wanton wounding' [Igros Moshe, Minchas Yitzchak].

Do not place tattoos in your skin [Vayikra 19: 28].
Tattoos are forbidden even if done for 'beauty' [Vayikra 19: 28].
Honoring Parents
כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר יְ-ה-וָֹ-ה אֱלֹהֶ-יךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ:

Honor your father and mother [Shemos 20:12, Y.D. 240:1] .

Examples of displays of honor includes servicing their physical and social needs and being kind to them [Y.D. 240:4].

Disrespecting Parents
אָרוּר מַקְלֶה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ וְאָמַר כָּל הָעָם אָמֵן
Cursed be one who embarrasses or despises his father or mother [Devarim 27:17, Rashi].

Whoever shows disdain to a parent, even without words is subject to the aforementioned curse.

Included in this is one who disdains a parent in his/her heart even without outward displays of disdain [Chida in Shiurei Bracha in Y.D. 242].
'In our days we beheld a person who financially supported his mother, but in his heart despised her for marrying another man after his father died. Once he traveled near the water, ended up in the water, was washed up and found dead missing an eye that had been eaten by the ravens. This punishment reflects the Pasuk in Mishlei .
עַיִן תִּלְעַג לְאָב וְתָבוּז לִיקֲּהַת אֵם יִקְּרוּהָ עֹרְבֵי נַחַל וְיֹאכְלוּהָ בְנֵי נָשֶׁר:

The eye that mocks a father and despises to obey a mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out and the young eagles shall eat it [Mishlei 30: 17].

[Chida in Shiurei Bracha in Y.D. 242 quoting from Sefer Chareidim]

Reverence for Parents
אִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ
Revere your mother and father [Vayikra 19:3, Y.D. 240:1].

Examples of displays of Reverence codified by the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch include; not to embarrass them, show disrespect to them and their standing - for instance by contradicting their words, unnecessarily weighing in on their disputes, calling them by their first names, standing or sitting in their special place [Kiddushin 31b ,Y.D. 240:2, 3]
as well as any other societal accepted reverence [Rabbi Yisroel Reisman].

Permission not to Honor
A father may absolve a child from honoring him. For example, a son does not need to rise when the father enters the room if the father absolves him from doing so [Y.D. 240: 19].

Permission to Disrespect
A son may not disrespect, embarrass, or hit a father even if the father allows him to do so. For example, a son may not call his father by his first name even if the father allows him to do so [Y.D. 240 Sha'ch 20, Sheiltos D'Rav Achai 60].

Wounding a Parent
וּמַכֵּה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ מוֹת יוּמָת.
A bruise is a common skin injury that results in a discoloration of the skin. Blood from damaged blood cells deep beneath the skin collects near the surface of the skin, resulting in what we think of as a black and blue mark.

One who causes a parent to bleed or bruises a parent is deserving of death (chenek; strangling) [Shemos 21:15].

A child can deserve chenek
for intentionally wounding a parent (after receiving warning from witnesses) even if the intentions are not malicious [Chulin 11b, Y.D. 241:1] .

Rachel pained her father while trying to prevent him from idolatry. Albeit, good intentioned, she died in childbirth and did no merit to raise Binyamin [Zohar Vayeitzei 380].

Invasive Medical Procedures on a Parent
Unless the situation is life threatening, Shulchan Aruch forbids administering an invasive medical procedure to a parent lest the child unintentionally wound the parent unnecessarily and transgress a severe prohibition, which deserves the death penalty if done intentionally. [Y.D. 241].

Rema qualifies this by permitting administering invasive medical procedures to a parent if there is no other qualified person to do it instead but must still take care not to unnecessarily harm the parent during the procedure [Y.D. 241, See Ben Ish Chai that Rema is qualifying not arguing on Shulchan Aruch, thus according to Ben Ish Chai even Sephardic Jews may administer invasive medical procedures to a parent if there is no other qualified person to do it. Others prohibit Sephardic children from doing so].

Permission to Wound a Parent
Most Poskim forbid a child from wounding a parent even if the parent permits the child to do so. [See Gesher HaChaim vol. II responsum of R Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l referring to the view of Minchas Chinuch which permits hitting/wounding with permission].

Similarity Between Hitting a Parent and Hitting another Jew
Hitting a parent without causing a wound is forbidden like hitting another Jew; the child transgresses the same sin of pen yosif [Rambam, Rema 241: 1].

Difference Between Hitting a Parent and Hitting another Jew

Additionally, hitting a parent is a display of disdain.

As such, one who administers corporal punishment on Beis Din's behalf may not do so to a father or mother. Even though this type of hitting is not 'malicious and destructive' and as such, one may administer the lashes to a fellow Jew who deserves it, it is nonetheless an embarrassing and disdainful act which one may not do to a parent, even if there is no wound [Y.D. 241: 5].


If a child must display reverence to a parent even when the parent absolves him/her from doing so, can a child hit a parent if the parent does not mind or tells him/her to do so? Although it is not malicious and destructive it is still a display of lack of reverence. It should be forbidden.

How then can a parent allow a child to play a contact sport with him whereby there is a risk that the child will hit the father or even worse, wound the father?

- So let’s break it down.

Willfully wounding a parent is deserving of death even with receiving permission from the father.

Unintentionally wounding a father is  also a grave sin.

One may not maliciously hit a parent even if the parent does not mind.

Even if not done maliciously, hitting a parent in a degrading way is forbidden even if the parent allows the child to do so.

It should follow that if the hitting is not malicious, whereby the son does not transgress pen yosif, and it is not done in a degrading manner and the parent gives the son/daughter permission to do so,  


Tackle Football, Rugby, and Paintball

Playing tackle football, rugby, and paintball engenders a likely risk in wounding a fellow player. As such, were a child to play tackle football, rugby, or paintball with a parent and wound the parent, the child would deserve chenek. As such, playing such a game is far worse than administering invasive medical procedures and would be forbidden.

Maliciously hitting a parent in the course of a game, where the parent does not mind is also forbidden.

Playful hitting of a parent in the course of a game (which does not cause a wound) is not malicious. If the parent allows the child to do so, the child has not transgressed the pen yosif prohibition.

This is why two friends could play a contact game and not worry about transgressing pen yosif provided that they control themselves and don’t hit or wound each other maliciously when emotions soar.

[Whether paintball is proper to play at all is beyond the scope of this article.]

However, with a parent, if the hitting is nevertheless degrading it is still forbidden.

Only, if the hitting (if there is no wound or risk of wounding the parent) within the context of the game is not degrading and the parent allows the child to do so, it is permitted.

Ear Piercing

Although ear piercing involves inflicting pain, there is no transgression of pen yosif because it is being done for beauty.