Honoring Parents

Question

Just saw the recent question from someone else about honoring parents. I’ve always wondered if ‘obey’ is a part of honor part of this commandment requires one to obey one’s parents very strictly under all circumstances (with the obvious exception of a parent’s command to violate Torah law). For example, is one strictly required to obey one’s parent asking for a favor or chore, even if s/he is too lazy?

Is one required to obey one’s parents’ wishes to enter a certain profession, even if s/he does not wish? Is one required to obey a parent’s command to refrain from engaging in a certain activity that many people normally do that in itself does not violate Torah law? Is one required to obey one’s parents’ command not to associate with a specific person?

5 months

Answers

  1. The Halacha is that when a parent asks a child to do something specific the child should do it. This is so unless, as you write, it involves transgressing the Halacha. Or if it is not possible for the child to what they are being asked to do. Laziness does not fall into that last category!

    This means that if a parent, for example, were to ask their child to drive them to the other side of town, the child should do so even though they really would prefer not to. More than that, the Rabbis teach that we should do our Mitzvot with a smile and good cheer. That certainly means that the child should not show their parent that they would prefer not to be driving them at that time.

    There is no obligation to go into a particular profession that a parent thinks would be best suited for their child. However, I always teach my students that even when they disagree with their parents they should listen carefully to what they are saying as, very often, parents know their children very well and it is entirely possible that what they are suggesting is actually the best thing for their child! The same is true when parents are unhappy about a child associating with someone who the parents feel is a bad influence over their child. As a rule, the child will be the last person to recognize that their friend is not good for them. That is why, every day, in the Morning Blessings, we ask Hashem to keep us away from “bad friends”.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team