In our case, the mitzvah, sandika’ot, can surely be done by others; there is no pressing need for the son to do it. Nevertheless, the Knesset Hagedolah writes in the name of the Or Zarua that Isi b. Yehuda’s ruling only applies to cases where the father offers a reason not to fulfill the mitzvah. In the Gemara’s case, the father wants a drink. If the father, however, tells him to disregard performing a mitzvah and offers no reason, the son should not listen to him. He cites Tosafot (Bava Metzia 32a, sv “d’kavod”) who states clearly that one should not listen to his father if the father offers no explanation.
Rabbi Stern cites numerous similar sources, all of the view that the son is not duty-bound to listen to his father if his father objects to him serving as sandak – a mitzvah that is compared to a kohen offering up ketoret.
Rabbi Stern does offer a possible reason for the father’s objection, citing the Mechaber (Yoreh De’ah 257:7): “A gabai tzedaka – one who serves as officer of the charitable fund – need not worry if he is shamed by the poor because his merit is so great.” The Mechaber’s words imply that a mishap can occur in any situation that involves the assumption of financial responsibilities, perhaps leading to false accusations. Indeed, in a case where the son was appointed a guardian for orphans, Rabbi Stern notes that Chayyim Sh’al allows the father’s objection to stand. Thus, the father’s thinking might be that the son is taking on some sort of financial responsibility by serving as sandak.
We must ask, however: Who is more financially responsible for the child’s upbringing than the father of the child? Surely, then, the grandfather’s objection cannot be based on such a consideration and is not applicable.
(To be continued)