Respecting One’s Parents

By Rabbi Chaim Chazzan


A man from a non-frum Sephardi family grew up in an Ashkenazi environment and therefore adopted Ashkenazi customs, nussach and pronunciation. When the man was thirty five years old his father became frum in accordance with Sephardic tradition. The father then demanded that the son return to his Sephardic roots. Must he obey his father’s demands under the mitzvah of ‘kibbud av’?


The obligations of a child towards his parents are twofold: ‘kibbud’ and ‘morah’.

The mitzvah of ‘kibbud’ is defined as caring for one’s parents, providing them with all of their needs. Any requested activity does not directly benefit the parent is not required by ‘kibbud’.

‘Morah’ is defined as reverence for parents such as not seating in their place and not contradicting their words.  There is a dispute amongst the poskim whether ‘morah’ requires one to fulfill even those requests which bring no direct benefit to the parent.

Even those who include obedience in ‘morah’, do not require it when it would cause a loss to the child. Since ignoring a parent’s request without a good reason constitutes a lack of reverence for the parent; ignoring the request out of concern for loss does not.

In conclusion: Since in this case, it would be very disruptive for the son and his family to change it’s halachic lifestyle so significantly, therefore the son is not required to honor his father’s request that he do so .

רמב”ן יבמות ו ע”א ד”ה מה להנך, רשב”א שם ד”ה מה להנך, ריטב”א שם ד”ה יכול, ביאור הגר”א יו”ד ר”מ ס”ק לו, מקנה לא ע”ב ד”ה ת”ר איזהו, קןבץ תשובות ח”א סי’ יב

Reprinted with permission from  Lmaan Yishmeu – a project of Mercaz Anash. To see more articles visit

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