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  • Obeying One's Parents

If a Parent forbids something does a child have to listen...


Rabbi David Sperling

Cheshvan 8, 5779
Hello, If a parent forbids something, such as a child going to a store, park, or restaurants (that is kosher). Or doing things in general (that don’t harm anyone, or constrict halacha, or benefit the parent). Is the child obligated to obey? If the child is an adult, does the halacha differ? Thanks so much!
Shalom, Thank you for your question. I see in our archives that you already asked a similar question, and received a reply referring you to a very good summary of the laws of honoring one's parents. However I will take the time to try and outline a general rule which may be of help. But, before I do so, I would like to stress that if your question relates to a real situation, then I strongly advice you to turn to a local Rabbi who can guide you in your particular situation. Everything I write is only a general outline, that needs to be applied with wisdom to each particular case. In general on only has to follow the requests of their parents if they request something that directly effects them. So if the parents ask you to turn down the music, or not cook smokey food in their presence, on must listen to them. However, if they request something that does not effect them directly, such as “do not marry a girl from x community” (with x being Ashkanazi / Sephardi / Etheopian etc) – one does not have to listen to them. So, if the parent request that you not go to the park, and this would have no effect on them, then one does not have to listen to them. However, if going to the park might cause them worry and stress, then there is a possibility that one might have to obey them. Obviously, a young child living with their parents (even over the age of Bar Mitzvah) has a stronger obligation to listen to their parents – as they provide them with housing and food, it is only correct that one goes out of their way to listen to them. More over, in many cases the parents have more knowledge and sense as to the right thing to do, and it's a smart thing to do to listen to them. As a person gets older and moves away from home them their actions are less directly connected to their parents, and are less likely to cause them worry etc. Beyond the issue of whether one has to listen to their parents, there is another issue, which is how to refuse their wishes (even when it is permitted to do so). For example, one is not allowed to talk in a disrespectful way to their parents. So, in general, a person is allowed to live their own life, and make their own dissensions. It might be wise to take consul with one's parents (in some cases), but in the end, one needs to make their own mind up, and follow their own heart. At the same time, one should try to always speak to their parents in a respectful way, not cause them pain or worry, and work to bring them happiness and joy. Blessings.
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