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  • Family and Society
  • Honoring Abusive Parents

Honoring parents


Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

25 Adar II 5765
Does the comandment to honor ones parents apply to parents who were, and are, abusive? For instance, the person I know was abused from age 4 to 12 and that person attempted to tell the mother who ignored it and called the child a liar. Now, this part of the abuse ended many many years ago but the mother is still emontially abusive. The victim, now an adult, wonders if the commandment still applies - or does the victim simply disown the parents?
The commandment to honor ones parents applies also in such circumstances, one should be careful to separate the need to honor his parents as the torah teaches us, and the understanding that parents are not perfect and make sometimes bad mistakes or even worse. You can’t disown your parents and the Mitzvah of kibud Av VeEm is eternal, even though in extreme circumstances the child might be exempt till he can handle this mitzvah properly – if the need to honor them will shatter completely his mental health or similar cases. From a distance the case you are talking about is not bad to that extent yet a rabbi that knows the people involved can give a better verdict.
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