Kibud Av V'Em

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Honoring (Kibud Av V'Em) and being in awe (Moreh Av V'Em) of one's parents are positive mitzvot. [1] One should be very careful in honoring one's parents as the Torah compares honoring one's parents to honoring Hashem and in some respects it is greater.[2]

General guidelines to the Mitzvah

  1. When fulfilling this mitzvah, one should realize that one is doing so in order to fulfill a mitzvah and not simply because it is logical and moral. [3]
  2. There is no bracha for the mitzvah of Kibud Av V'Em. Some explain that the reason is because the actions done by a Jew to fulfill the mitzvah are the same ones a non-Jew would do to honor his parents as a moral obligation. Since the primary difference between a Jew and non-Jew who take such actions is the intent, for such an action one may not say "Asher Kideshanu" - we were commanded in this specific action. [4]
  3. In principle, the mitzvah of honoring and having awe applies equally to one's father as it does to one's mother.[5] However, if one's parents are married, honoring one's father takes precedence since one's mother also has to honor one's father.[6]
  4. If one's parents ask him to violate some from the Torah or even something that is only rabbinically forbidden, one should not listen to them.[7]
  5. In principle, a man and woman are equally obligated in honoring or being in awe of one's parents. If a woman is married, however, she is exempt from honoring her parents. Yet, if her husband isn't meticulous, she is obligated to honor her parents as much as possible. [8]
  6. The mitzvah of kibbud av va'em is fundamentally a mitzvah bein adam lachavero. Therefore, even one who repents on Yom Kippur and confesses this sin before Hashem, must ask them for forgiveness. [9]

Honoring One's Parents

  1. Included in honoring one's parents is feeding, dressing, and helping them walk. When one is doing such an activity, one should do it with a smile. [10]
  2. If one sees one's parent do a sin, one shouldn't say "you sinned" but rather "father, doesn't it say in Torah such and such?" in a question form and the parent will understand and not be embarrassed. [11]
  3. Although one should not generally take care of his own need such as shopping before praying in the morning, one is permitted to go out and buy groceries for his parents even before prayers. [12]
  4. If one's parents tell them to violate a Biblical or even a rabbinic prohibition, one shouldn't listen.[13]

Standing for One's Parents

  1. One must stand before one's mother and father[14] unless they forgo this honor.[15]
  2. One should stand for one's parent once he enters one's eyesight.[16]
  3. According to Ashkenazim one only needs to stand once a day and once a night.[17] According to Sephardim, one should stand every time a parent enters the room even if it is a hundred times a day.[18]

Honoring in Thought

  1. One must honor his parents in thought as well. One should imagine that his parents are the most important people in the world even if other people do not see it that way. [19]

Spending Money on One's Parents

  1. Even though the cost of fulfilling the mitzva of kibbud av va'em is supposed to come from the parents money, if the child chooses to pay, it is considered a mitzva. [20]
  2. If one's parents need financial support, it is proper for him to limit his spending somewhat so that he can give to his parents. [21]

Calling Your Parents by Name

  1. It is forbidden to call your parents by their name.[22]
  2. One may not call one's friends by the name of one's father but rather should call them by a nickname. If one's parent's name is common one may call one's friend by that name not in front of one's parent.[23]
  3. If one's parent foregoes this honor, one may them by their name, yet there is still a mitzvah not to call them by their name. If one uses a term of honor such as Mom or Dad one may call them by their name.[24]

Honoring Grandparents

  1. There's a mitzvah to honor one's grandparents, but to a lesser extent than the mitzvah to honor one's parents. [25] Others, however, hold that there's no special mitzvah for grandparents more than the general mitzvah to respect elders.[26]

Honoring One's Step-Parents

  1. One is obligated to honor one's father's wife (step-mother) as long as one's father is alive. It is proper to honor her even after one's father's death. [27]
  2. One is obligated to honor one's mother's husband (step-father) as long as one's mother is alive. It is proper to honor him even after one's mother's death. [28]
  3. A convert should honor his non-Jewish parents and he may not curse his non-Jewish parents or disgrace them. [29]

Honoring In-Laws

  1. Though one must show respect to his in-laws as much as possible such as standing up, one does not need to respect his in-laws in the same way that he must his own parents.[30]

Having Awe for One's Parents

  1. One shouldn't stand in the place where one's father usually stands to daven or sit in the place he usually sits at home.[31]
  2. One may not contradict his words or even say that one agrees with his words in front of him. [32]

Injuring One's Parents

  1. One shouldn't let blood or perform an amputation for one's parent unless there is no other doctor available and one's parent is in pain in which case it is permitted to do whatever one's parent gives him permission to do.[33] Similarly, if he's the best doctor available and one's parent wants him, then he may perform on his parent according to whatever one's parent gives him permission.[34]

Swearing in Parent's Name

  1. Children must be careful not to swear on their parent's lives. [35]

If One's Parents Passed Away

  1. If one lost his parents, he can still perform some acts of kibbud after their death, He should also respect older people, rabbis, and older siblings in the manner that he would have respected his parents. [36]

Sources

  1. The Rambam counts both Kibud Av VeEm (Aseh #210) and Moreh Av VeEm (Aseh #211) as positive mitzvot. The Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah #33 and #212) agrees. Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:1 codifies this as halacha.
  2. Gemara Kiddushin 30b and Bava Metsia 32a. This gemara is quoted by the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:1 and Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:1. Yerushalmi (Kiddushin 1:7) quotes Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who says that Kibbud Av is greater than honoring Hashem! The Yerushalmi is referenced by the Ritva Bava Metsia 32a s.v. salka, Ran Kiddushin 13b, and Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:1.
  3. Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:2-3. see the machloket in the poskim quoted in Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 100
  4. Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:4, Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 75
  5. Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Kibbud Va'em Pg. 66
  6. Gemara Kiddushin 31a, Tur 240, Shulchan Aruch YD 240:14, Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:7
  7. Gemara Bava Metsia 32a, Yevamot 5b, Rambam (Mamrim 6:12). Shulchan Aruch YD 240:15
  8. Kiddushin 30b, Shulchan Aruch YD 240:16, Shach YD 240:19, Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:38
  9. Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 100
  10. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:3
  11. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:10
  12. Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 108
  13. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:11
  14. Gemara Kiddushin 31b records Rav Yosef's practice to stand for his mother. Rambam Mamrim 6:3 writes that there is an obligation to stand for one's parents. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:7 codifies this halacha.
  15. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu's comment on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:7
  16. Chaye Adam 67:7, Chiddushei Rav Chaim HaLevi (Talmud Torah 5:1)
  17. Chaye Adam 67:7
  18. Yalkut Yosef (YD ch. 4 n. 8)
  19. Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av pg. 110
  20. Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 124
  21. Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 123
  22. Mar Bar Rav Ashi wouldn't call his father by his name and instead would say my father my master. Rambam Mamrim 6:3 rules that it is forbidden to call one's father by his personal name. Shulchan Aruch YD 240:2 codifies this as halacha.
  23. Rambam Mamrim 6:3, Shulchan Aruch YD 240:2
  24. Igrot Moshe YD 1:133
  25. Rama (responsa 118) and Rama YD 240:24.
  26. Maharik 30. See, however, Biur Hagra who draws a compromise that there's no mitzvah to honor maternal grandparents.
  27. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:20
  28. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:20
  29. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:22
  30. Yechave Daat 6:51
  31. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:2
  32. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:2
  33. Sanhedrin 85b, Shulchan Aruch and Rama YD 241:3
  34. Aruch HaShulchan 241:6
  35. Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Va'em pg. 150
  36. Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Va'em pg. 65