Thursday, July 19, 2012

Must a son agree if his father wants to live with him?

Rav Sternbuch (2:444):  Question: The mitzva of honoring parents is different than all other mitzvos. On the one hand there is no obligation to spend money on this mitzva since the halacha is that honoring parents is on the father’s expense and not the son’s. In contrast all other mitzvos require payment up to a fifth of his wealth. On the other hand the positive command of honoring parents is more severe than all other mitzvos since the parent’s honor is equated to that of G‑d. Another question is why is it that will all other mitzvos we say that there is no obligation to do it if it causes great embarrassment since there is the principle that “human dignity if great since it allows avoiding in a passive way of any positive mitzva. The Achronim discuss that that great torment is equivalent to great embarrassment in that it exempts the obligation to do a positive mitzva and it doesn’t exhaust his wealth because he is only obligated to spend at most a fifth of his wealth. In contrast the mitzva of honoring parents is obligatory even when there is great torment and great embarrassment. We know that even if the father insults him verbally in public it is prohibited to respond. In the present case where the sun claims that if his father lives with him it will cause him great torment and he will be required to deal with him constantly and because of that it will totally destroy his relationship with his wife and family. He will end up totally occupied with his father’s needs. The son says that this will be extremely great torment that will require unlimited care for his father. In addition it will entail expenses that are much greater than a fifth of his wealth. Answer: In my opinion the son’s words are totally wrong because we are not talking about doing a mitzva on a single occasion but rather that his father will be dwelling with him and as a result he will have hundreds of opportunities to do the mitzva. The Ran at the end of Yoma has stated that even concerning two serious prohibition which involve stoning and here we have the mitzva of honoring parents which will occur many times  - it is impossible to push off the obligation and merit of such a mitzva. Therefore it is necessary to explain to his wife about the great merit that he will get from this as well as the great reward she will receive for assisting her father-in-law. In addition that he can not get out of doing this mitzva with the excuse that it will cost more than a fifth of his wealth. However if he is forced to send his father to a nursing home in order to get proper treatment it would seem that he has the obligation to pay if the father can’t afford it and he not deduct the expenses from his charity funds. The reason for this I once heard in the name of the Brisker Rav that this that we rule that the father is obligated to pay his expenses that is only for things which are he is not personally obligated to do. But if the son is personally obligated and he is paying in order to avoid personally taking of his father – then he must pay. That is because he isn’t paying for his father but rather to avoid having to do that which he is obligated to do. Thus we see that he is actually according to the law to pay since it isn’t for his father but simply to avoid personal involvement. Consequently in the present case where is is obligated according to the law to take his father into his house but he wants to avoid this obligation by sending his father to a nursing home – then he must pay out of his pocket in order to avoid doing the mitzva personally. However if the father has the money then according to the law then the son doesn’t have the personal obligation to take care of his father. That is because the father has the option of being in a nursing home at his own expense. Thus it seems that the father would then be obligated to pay. Nevertheless even if the father has the money but he is a miser and he is prepared to pay and he truly needs the services of the nursing home, it seems that the son should pay for his father and afterwards deduct it the inheritance that goes to the father’s heirs. It is correct to issue a notice first before 2 witnesses that he is not paying for the nursing home as a gift to his father but rather the father owes him the money and he will deduct it later.  Nonetheless it is prohibited to leave his father in a neglected condition. (There is a well known story regarding someone who asked Rav Chaim Brisker whether he was obligated to pay transportation costs to visit his father in Warsaw since the halacha is that honoring of parents is the father’s expense. Rav Chaim replied, that he was obligated to go to Warsaw by foot but if he didn’t want to walk he could pay for the fare to get there. Nevertheless it needs to be investigated whether he actually needs to walk to another city in order to fulfill the mitzva of honoring parents. See Moadim v’Zmaninm (1:4). I heard that Rav Chaim Brisker discussed with the Chazon Ish when they met in Minsk during the War whether the halacha requires going to another city in order to acquire a kosher esrog. See Moadim v’Zemanin (1:3) Nevertheless with the mitzva of honoring parents is a more stringent mitzva because it is associated with honoring G‑d. This requires further study.

6 comments :

  1. Can anyone explain to me why rav shteinman is asking all adults to teaar kria for the loss of rav elyashiv? We never did this before in history as far as iknow to be mechayev everyone to tear kriya for a posek who died. We didn't see it by the chazon ish or by rav kanievsky or by rav shach or reb moshe or anyone else that im aware of. Is this a new era of halacha or is it a das yachids opionion in halacha?

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    1. שולחן ערוך יורה דעה הלכות קריעה סימן שמ

      סעיף ז
      על חכם ועל תלמיד חכם ששואלין אותו דבר הלכה בכל מקום ואומרה, קורעין עליו אפילו לאחר קבורה, ביום שמועה, אם הוא תוך ל' יום. וקורע עליו בשעת הספדו. ( לא קרע ביום שמועה, וכבר עבר זמן הספדו, ולא קרע, שוב אינו קורע) (כך משמע בטור בב"י). וקורעין עליו עד שמגלין את לבם. וכבר נהגו תלמידי חכמים בכל מקום לקרוע זה על זה טפח, אף על פי שהם שוים ואין אחד מהם מלמד את חבירו. הגה: י"א שאין קורעין על חכם, אלא א"כ הוא רבו או שיודעין משמועותיו שחדש, דהיינו רבו, (כ"מ בטור, הרא"ש והגמי"י בשם הר"מ), וכן נהגו להקל במדינות אלו.

      סעיף ח
      על רבו שרוב חכמתו ממנו; אם מקרא, מקרא; ואם משנה, משנה; אם גמרא, גמרא; קורע כל בגדיו עד שמגלה לבו. וי"א שאינו קורע אלא טפח, ואינו מאחה לעולם. ואפילו משמועה רחוקה, קורע עליו לעולם. ואם לא למד רוב חכמתו ממנו, אינו קורע עליו, אלא כדין שאר מתים שהוא מתאבל עליהם. ואפילו לא למד ממנו אלא דבר אחד, בין קטן בין גדול, קורע עליו. הגה: וי"א דקרע שעל רבו שאינו מובהק, נמי אינו מתאחה (טור בשם הרא"ש ובית יוסף בשם רש"י ותוספות והר"ן). תלמידי חכמים שיושבים ביחד ומקשים ומפרקין זה לזה ולומדים ביחד, י"א שדינן כרב שאינו מובהק, וי"א שדינן כרב מובהק (אלו שני הסברות בטור). וי"א דאין צריכין לקרוע אלא על רבו שלמדו רוב חכמתו, אבל חברים הלומדים זה עם זה, או שהאיר עיניו בדבר אחד, אינו אלא חומרא בעלמא, והיכא דנהוג נהוג, והיכא דלא נהוג לא נהוג, ואין מורין כן. (מרדכי ה"א בשם השאלתות והגמ"יי בשם הר"מ), ולכן נהגו להקל במדינות אלו.

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  2. Well if that's the case why havnt we done kria in the past on a mass scale when other gedolim died. No one that I can recall in the last 100 years had such a psak passed

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    1. We did do it in the past. It was done for Rav Shach and for others.

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  3. what if the wife (or even one's children) object to the father / grandfather living with them (for whatever reason)?

    their obligation (maybe not the grandchildren, but i extend this to them, too) overrride kibud av va'em.

    yes, a wife has obligation of kibud father in law, but she may not want to establish a precedent for her family (or whatever other reason.)

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    1. the wife is subordinate to the husband as are the children. They might not like it - but that doesn't change the chiyuv.

      You might notice that the son didn't want to do it either - that didn't change the halacha.

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