Ask the rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Honoring Parents vs. Other Mitzvot

Care for parents


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

3 Av 5763
Honored Rav, I am engaged and planned in getting married before Rosh Hashana B’’H. I am the only child and my mother has no dependants or family besides me. Currently, my mother needed emergent medical treatment and was admitted to the hospital, she is continuing receiving medical treatment as an outpatient and is now living with me for support. I know that it is not preferable to get married and live as a newly married couple with a parent in a spacious 2-3 bed-room apartment. But, I do feel as the only family dependant a responsibility to care for my mother in my apartment until she is feeling better (she already improved tremendously). "Pushing" her out of my place and finding a care-giver I consider inhumane. On the other hand, my Callah is very stressed with the prospect starting our new life with my mother living with us and wants my mother to move out before we get married. I do not expect my mother to live with us for more than 2 months based on her quick recovery. What is the Torah’s perspective in this situation.
You do have a responsibility, based on the obligation to respect your mother and on simple "derech eretz", to make sure that she receives adequate medical attention. For the same reasons, you should try to visit her regularly and maintain close telephone contact. You are not, however, under an obligation to be the "care-giver" yourself and in fact in many circumstances a son being the care-giver to his mother would raise serious questions of modesty. Based on the information in your letter, there is, therefore, every reason to do as your fiancee suggests- making sure at the same time that your mother receives the best attention possible from a professional in the field. Assure your mother that she is not being abandoned and that both you and your fiancee will maintain close contact with her.
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