Kibud Av V'Em
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
Honoring (Kibud Av V'Em) and being in awe (Moreh Av V'Em) of one's parents are positive mitzvot. One should be very careful in honoring one's parents as the Torah compares honoring one's parents to honoring Hashem and in some respects it is greater.
General guidelines to the Mitzvah
- When fulfilling this mitzvah, one should realize that one is doing so in order to fulfill a mitzvah and not simply because it is logical and moral.
- There is no bracha for the mitzvah of Kibud Av V'Em. Some explain that the reason is because the actions done by a Jew to fulfill the mitzvah are the same ones a non-Jew would do to honor his parents as a moral obligation. Since the primary difference between a Jew and non-Jew who take such actions is the intent, for such an action one may not say "Asher Kideshanu" - we were commanded in this specific action.
- In principle, the mitzvah of honoring and having awe applies equally to one's father as it does to one's mother. However, if one's parents are married, honoring one's father takes precedence since one's mother also has to honor one's father.
- If one's parents ask him to violate some from the Torah or even something that is only rabbinically forbidden, one should not listen to them.
- In principle, a man and woman are equally obligated in honoring or being in awe of one's parents. If a woman is married, however, she is exempt from honoring her parents. Yet, if her husband isn't meticulous, she is obligated to honor her parents as much as possible.
- The mitzvah of kibbud av va'em is fundamentally a mitzvah bein adam lachavero. Therefore, even one who repents on Yom Kippur and confesses this sin before Hashem, must ask them for forgiveness.
Honoring One's Parents
- Included in honoring one's parents is feeding, dressing, and helping them walk. When one is doing such an activity, one should do it with a smile.
- If one sees one's parent do a sin, one shouldn't say "you sinned" but rather "father, doesn't it say in Torah such and such?" in a question form and the parent will understand and not be embarrassed.
- Although one should not generally take care of his own need such as shopping before praying in the morning, one is permitted to go out and buy groceries for his parents even before prayers.
- If one's parents tell them to violate a biblical or even a rabbinic prohibition, one shouldn't listen.
- If one's parents objects to one doing a specific chumra, technically one doesn't have to listen to one's parents since that isn't included in Kibbud Av Vem. However, if doing the chumra will cause his parents pain then it isn't advised to disobey their wishes and doing so is spiritually worse than keeping that pious practice.
Standing for One's Parents
- One must stand before one's mother and father unless they forgo this honor.
- One should stand for one's parent once he enters one's eyesight.
- According to Ashkenazim one only needs to stand once a day and once a night. According to Sephardim, one should stand every time a parent enters the room even if it is a hundred times a day.
Honoring in Thought
- One must honor his parents in thought as well. One should imagine that his parents are the most important people in the world even if other people do not see it that way.
Spending Money on One's Parents
- Even though the cost of fulfilling the mitzva of kibbud av va'em is supposed to come from the parents' money, if the child chooses to pay, it is considered a mitzva.
- If one's parents need financial support, it is proper for him to limit his spending somewhat so that he can give to his parents.
Calling Your Parents by Name
- It is forbidden to call your parents by their name. This applies when they're alive as well as after they pass away. It is forbidden even not in their presence.
- It is permitted to call one's parents by their name if one introduces it with an honorific title like "My father my master". When one speaks to one's parent directly one should call them "father" and "mother" or the like.
- If someone is being called up to the Torah and the Gabbay asks for his father's name he should say your name then "בן רבי" (English "ben rebbe"; trans. "the son of my teacher...") and then your father's name. This is permitted since one introduced one's father with an honorific. Unfortunately, this isn't a well known halacha and as such the Gabbay should prompt the one getting the Aliyah to give him his name and say Rebbe before his father's name. Sephardic poskim are lenient since the language "the son of" is like an honorific.
- One may not call one's friends by the name of one's father but rather should call them by a nickname. If one's parent's name is common one may call one's friend by that name not in front of one's parent.
- If one's parent foregoes this honor, one may address them by their name, yet there is still a mitzvah not to call them by their name. If one uses a term of honor such as Mom or Dad one may call them by their name.
- There's a mitzvah to honor one's grandparents, but to a lesser extent than the mitzvah to honor one's parents. Others, however, hold that there's no special mitzvah for grandparents more than the general mitzvah to respect elders.
Honoring One's Step-Parents
- One is obligated to honor one's father's wife (step-mother) as long as one's father is alive. It is proper to honor her even after one's father's death.
- One is obligated to honor one's mother's husband (step-father) as long as one's mother is alive. It is proper to honor him even after one's mother's death.
- A convert should honor his non-Jewish parents and he may not curse his non-Jewish parents or disgrace them.
- One must respect his parents-in-law.
- Though one must show respect to his in-laws as much as possible such as standing up, one does not need to respect his in-laws in the same way that he must his own parents.
Having Awe for One's Parents (Moreh Av V'Em)
- One shouldn't stand in the place where one's father usually stands to daven or sit in the place he usually sits at home.
- One may not contradict his words or even say that one agrees with his words in front of him.
- Some are of the opinion that due to the obligation of Moreh Av Va'Em, one must listen to the directive of one's parents, even if it does not directly benefit the parent. The exception to this position is the directive of a parent for a child to not to marry his desired spouse, which a child is permitted to disregard.
Injuring One's Parents
- One shouldn't let blood or perform an amputation for one's parent unless there is no other doctor available and one's parent is in pain in which case it is permitted to do whatever one's parent gives him permission to do. Similarly, if he's the best doctor available and one's parent wants him, then he may perform on his parent according to whatever one's parent gives him permission.
Swearing in Parent's Name
- Children must be careful not to swear on their parent's lives.
If One's Parents Passed Away
- If one lost his parents, he can still perform some acts of kibbud after their death, He should also respect older people, rabbis, and older siblings in the manner that he would have respected his parents.
- The Gemara in Kiddushin asks "?במותו כיצד"— "How can one honor his father in his death?"—and answers that if the son heard something that his father had said, he should not claim, "כך אמר אבא" —"So said father."—but rather, the son should proclaim, "כך אמר אבא מרי הריני כפרת משכבו"—"So said father, my teacher. May I be an atonement for his soul." The Gamara there explains that this applies within one year after his death. After that time, the son may say "זכרונו לברכה לחיי העולם הבא"—"Blessed is his memory for the Life of the World to Come." 
- The Rambam counts both Kibud Av VeEm (Aseh #210) and Moreh Av VeEm (Aseh #211) as positive mitzvot. The Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah #33 and #212) agrees. Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:1 codifies this as halacha.
- Gemara Kiddushin 30b and Bava Metsia 32a. This gemara is quoted by the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:1 and Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:1. Yerushalmi (Kiddushin 1:7) quotes Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who says that Kibbud Av is greater than honoring Hashem! The Yerushalmi is referenced by the Ritva Bava Metsia 32a s.v. salka, Ran Kiddushin 13b, and Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:1.
- Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:2-3. see the machloket in the poskim quoted in Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 100
- Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:4, Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 75
- Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Kibbud Va'em Pg. 66
- Gemara Kiddushin 31a, Tur 240, Shulchan Aruch YD 240:14, Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:7
- Gemara Bava Metsia 32a, Yevamot 5b, Rambam (Mamrim 6:12). Shulchan Aruch YD 240:15
- Kiddushin 30b, Shulchan Aruch YD 240:16, Shach YD 240:19, Aruch HaShulchan YD 240:38
- Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 100
- Shulchan Aruch YD 240:4; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:3
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:10
- Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 108
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:11
- Yalkut Yosef (Kibbud Av Vem p. 423). He cites the Agudat Ezov YD 16 who writes about a case where a parent asks a child not to keep yashan because he is afraid that doing so will cause him to be unhealthy and malnourished. He writes that it isn't necessary to listen since it doesn't directly affect the parents. Nonetheless, it is proper to be strict regarding Kibbud Av Vem and listen to them. He also cites the Meishivat Nefesh 16 who writes that if the father is commanding him because he wants him not to be strict then one doesn't have to listen. But if he has another reason such as he is pained by the fact that the child is in pain then he has to listen. Lastly, he cites Beer Moshe 1:61:2 that if the chumra has a basis in gemara then he doesn't have to listen to his parents, but it doesn't then he must listen to them.
- Yalkut Yosef (Kibbud Av Vem p. 423), Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:526. As a precedent the Teshuvot Vehanhagot records that the Arizal's practice was to go to mikveh each day but when his mother asked him not to go in the winter for his health he listened. Another precedent of this can be seen in the Sefer Chasidim 340 who writes that a person shouldn't fast a non-obligatory fast if it causes pain to one's parents. This is cited by the Ben Ish Chai Shoftim 25 and Yalkut Yosef Kibud Av Vem p. 425. See also Igrot Moshe YD 4:24:1 who writes that if someone is strict about something and his parents aren't but really the halacha is to permit it, then he can be lenient when he is with his parents such as to eat with them something that otherwise he wouldn't eat.
- Gemara Kiddushin 31b records Rav Yosef's practice to stand for his mother. Rambam Mamrim 6:3 writes that there is an obligation to stand for one's parents. This is codified one Shulchan Aruch YD 240:7 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:7
- Rav Mordechai Eliyahu's comment on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:7
- Chaye Adam 67:7, Chiddushei Rav Chaim HaLevi (Talmud Torah 5:1)
- Chaye Adam 67:7
- Yalkut Yosef (YD ch. 4 n. 8)
- Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av pg. 110
- Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 124
- Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Av Va'em pg. 123
- Mar Bar Rav Ashi wouldn't call his father by his name and instead would say my father my master. Rambam (Hilchot Mamrim 6:3) rules that it is forbidden to call one's father by his personal name. Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 240:2 codifies this as halacha.
- Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 240:2
- Yalkut Yosef (YD 240, Morah Av Vem 5:59)
- Yalkut Yosef (YD 240, Morah Av Vem 5:59)
- Pitchei Teshuva YD 240:2, Kibud Av V'em Vmoram (R' Efraim Oved, 6:7 p. 41). R' Oved explains that the Eretz Tzvi 97 allows introducing one's father's name with "my father" based on the Gra and Pri Chadash. However, the Ben Ish Chai Shoftim n. 4 implies that it is forbidden to say but permitted to write. Ura Kevodi p. 145 cites Chut Shani p. 279 and Igrot Moshe YD 1:133 who also hold that before telling the Gabbay the name of one's father one should say Rebbe as an honor. Rav Elyashiv (Mevakshei Torah 5:24:194) held that since it is in public he should say a significant honorific such as "my father my master rebbe" before the name.
- Kibud Av V'em Vmoram (R' Efraim Oved, 6:7 p. 41) quotes Yabia Omer YD 15:5 and Yafeh Lelev YD 3:10 as allowing saying one's father's name if one says his name "the son of" which in it of itself is like an introduction of honor.
- Rambam Mamrim 6:3, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 240:2
- Igrot Moshe YD 1:133
- Rama (responsa 118) and Rama YD 240:24.
- Maharik 30. See, however, Biur Hagra who draws a compromise that there's no mitzvah to honor maternal grandparents.
- Shulchan Aruch YD 240:21; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:20
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:22
- Shulchan Aruch YD 240:24
- Yechave Daat 6:51
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:2
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:2
- Sefer HaMakneh, Kiddushin 31b s.v. "Tanu Rabanan Eizehu". An exception to this position is if doing so causes a substantial loss for the child. These losses can be financial or in other ways that would cause much disruption in the child's life (e.g. completely changing from Ashkenazic to Sephardic minhagim, according to Rav Elyashiv)). This is in contrast to the Rabman, Rashba and Ritva (Yevamot 6a), which state that the mitzvah of Kibud Av Va'Em is servicing the parents. This definition does not include obeying one's parents when the directive does not directly benefit them. The Vilna Gaon (Biur HaGra on Yoreh Deah 240:36) asserts that this is the position of the Mechaber and the Rama in Shulchan Aruch. This is also the common practice as well.
- The Rama (ibid) codifies this as the halacha, quoting Shu"t Maharik (Siman 167). According to the position of the Ramban, Rashba and Ritva, where a child must obey a parent's directive only if it directly benefits the parents, a son choosing who to marry does not directly benefit the parents. Therefore, it would be permitted for a child to disregard such a directive. According to the position of the Sefer HaMakneh, where a child must obey a directive even if it does not directly benefit his parents, it would still be permitted to disregard this specific directive as obeying one's parents would cause a child to refrain from marrying and having a children, something from which he is halachikally obligated to do. Even though it is permissible to not obey parents' wishes for who their children marry, naturally, the parents should not be expected to support the child and his spouse afterwards.
- Sanhedrin 85b, Shulchan Aruch and Rama YD 241:3
- Aruch HaShulchan 241:6
- Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Va'em pg. 150
- Yalkut Yosef Kibbud Va'em pg. 65