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One’s Life Partner
‘The Only Poor In Israel Is The Subtly Wicked’
(Sanhedrin 76a)

 

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Our sugya discusses a parent’s responsibility to marry off his children. Rabbi Akiva chastises a father who delays marrying off his daughter as doing so may harm her morally. Indeed, R. Kahana said in Rabbi Akiva’s name that if the father does so for selfish reasons he is referred to as “subtly wicked.” Rashi (ad. loc. s.v. “mash’heh bito bogeres…”) explains that the father wishes to save the expense of hiring help and therefore delays marrying off his daughter so that she can continue taking care of the household.

Be Wary Of Advice

R. Kahana also said in Rabbi Akiva’s name that one should be wary of accepting advice from someone who might have an interest in the matter. Rabbenu Yonasan (cited by Chamra V’chaya) explains that he is referring to paternal advice to a daughter about not marrying a certain man. The young lady would be wise to examine the reason for her father’s advice. Rashi explains that he may have a self-interest in her not marrying so that he can continue to benefit from the household chores she performs. If she believes his advice is tainted by self-interest, she is within her rights to reject his advice. Thus, according to Rabbenu Yonasan, in spite of the mitzvah of kibbud av va’em, a child is sometimes permitted to disobey a parent’s wish when it involves the selection of a mate.

A Matter Of Comfort

The Maharik (shoresh 166:3, cited by the Rema, Yoreh De’ah 240) cites three reasons why a son may marry someone despite parental disapproval. First, the Gemara (Kiddushin 32a) states that a child only must provide for his parents from their own resources; he is not duty bound to expend any of his own resources to do so. Second, marrying someone one likes is vital for shalom bayis, which is a mitzvah. This mitzvah overrides the mitzvah of kibbud av va’em. Third, a child only has to obey a father’s demand when it pertains to his comfort. Where no such factor is involved, he need not be concerned.

Fear Of Parents

Sefer Hamakneh (Kiddushin op. cit.) disagrees and asserts that although the child may not be violating kibbud av va’em by marrying a woman despite his parents’ disapproval, he Is violating “ish imo v’aviv tira’you” (Vayikra 19:3), which enjoins one to fear one’s parents. Indeed, it is reported that Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, actually ruled that a son had to comply with his father’s request in a particular case where it was feared that the father would suffer excessive anguish if the son disobeyed him.

Ve’Talmud Torah K’neged Kulam

The Terumat Hadeshen (siman 40, and cited by the Mechaber, Yoreh De’ah 240:25) was asked regarding a young man who wished to travel to a distant country to further his Torah studies under a prominent Torah scholar. His father objected to the trip on the grounds that the roads were dangerous; he feared for his son’s safety.

The sage ruled that the son need not heed his father’s objection because the mitzvah of Torah study takes precedence over the mitzvah of kibbud av va’em and ish imo v’aviv tira’you. As proof, he cites the Gemara (Megillah 16b), which states that Yaakov Avinu was not punished for neglecting the mitzvah of kibbud av va’em (or ish imo v’aviv tira’you) for the 14 years he studied in the beis medrash of Shem and Ever.

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Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.