Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Honoring Parents vs. Other Mitzvot

Difficulty honoring parents


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

9 Nisan 5763
Rabbi, My parents have done a wonderful job raising me. Unfortunately, over the years, my parents raised me and my sister less and less observantly. Since I’ve gone to college, I’ve become more observant and have abided by Orthodox guidelines. To respond, my parents have decided to become more religious, but still within the confines of Conservative doctrine. My parents now intend to go to services regularly in the hope that I will go with them when I return because I have become observant. What makes matters more difficult is that the synagogue is not even within walking distance- I would have to drive along with my parents. I know that driving is wholly wrong to do, but I love my parents and would want to honor them as best I can, as well as having the opportunity to join them in a religious context that means so much to me. What should I do? Should I just daven at home and let my family drive and go to conservative shul, daven and go with them, or something else?
The halacha does not permit violating Shabbat (or any other commandment) in order to honor parents. This since both you and they are obligated to keep the commandments (Bava Metzia 32a based on VaYikra 19 3). Since your parents are becoming more observant, explain to them why you will not travel on shabbat and why this does not detract from the respect, the appreciation and the love you feel for them.
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