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Paternal Obligations


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

22 Elul 5765
When I was young, my parents got divorced. My father soon after got remarried and started a new family. Afterwards he had nothing to do with his children from his previous marriage. What obligations does a father have towards his children? Does the Torah command a father to love his children? Does a father have any financial, spiritual or emotional obligations?
A father is obligated to educate his children, both in Torah and in worldly affairs (Omnut - livelihood). He must provide for physical needs as well, at least as long as the children are minors (before bar/bat mitzvah), but it is now common custom to obligate the father to give child support at least until the age of eighteen or twentyone depending on the country. There is no specific command of love, for this is assumed. A father is obligated to teach the child mitzvot and proper behavior. On occasion a divorced woman will attempt to deny contact between her former spouse and the chil;dren. More commonly the father simply takes off, and this is a clear abbrogation of basic obligations.
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