Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review January 20, 2009 / 24 Teves 5769

Painful Priorities I

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


Printer Friendly Version

Email this article


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. For years I have been supporting my aged mother, but now my business is failing and I just don't have the means. Do I have to risk my livelihood?


A. This is an extremely painful dilemma that many people face at some time during their lives. Our parents are the most important and irreplaceable figures in our lives; for the vast majority of us, when we were vulnerable youngsters they unquestioningly fulfilled their obligation to support and protect us. It is only natural that we feel a sense of gratitude and concern, and as adults seek to do everything in our power to help them when the situation is reversed and they become vulnerable.


The question of fulfilling our obligations to our parents in difficult circumstances is a complex one, and we will divide it into two columns. This week we will discuss the non-monetary aspects of helping parents, and next we will focus on the issue of financial support.


Honoring parents is a foundation of our faith, a principle so important it is one of the Ten Commandments. In the book of Exodus (20:11) we read:


Honor your father and your mother, in order that you may lengthen your days on the land which the Lord your G-d gave you.


Beside the commandment to honor our parents, there is a separate command of awe. This is often translated as fear, but it doesn't mean a person has to be afraid of their parents. It means that a parent is a special, larger-than-life figure. In the book of Leviticus (19:3) we read:


Fear each man his mother and his father, and keep my Sabbaths; I am the Lord your G-d.


The conjunction of the commandment of awe of parents and keeping the Sabbath reminds us that while from a dry, detached viewpoint all people may seem alike and all days just the same, in G-d's plan the parent's status is elevated above all others, and the Sabbath day is sanctified above all others.


What are the parameters of these commandments to honor and fear parents? They are certainly demanding, but perhaps surprisingly they do not include the obligation of financial support. As we will explain next week, that obligation has a different source.


The rabbis taught: What is awe, and what is honor? Awe - don't stand in his place, and don't sit in his place, and don't contradict his words or judge them. Honor: feed, and give drink, dress and cover, bring in and bring out. (1)


The passage uses the masculine gender, but all of the conditions apply equally to the father and the mother. The rules of "awe" correspond to what we call honor or respect; these are things you wouldn't do to your boss and which you shouldn't do to your parents. The rules of "honor" involve tending to the physical needs of the parent. These obligations apply even when the parent is able to take care of himself, but obviously their importance is much greater when the parent's independence is limited.


The Talmud then asks, at whose expense? The child has the responsibility to feed and clothe the parent, but is he or she also responsible for paying? After a discussion, the Talmud concludes that the commandment to honor parents does not in itself oblige the child to spend money on the parent. The "honor" of the Ten Commandments is primarily directed to personal attention and concern.


Of course this is not limited to physical needs. Our sages point out that emotional support can be even more important. Earlier in the same Talmudic passage we read:


One person may feed his father delicacies and yet this expels him from the world, and another may work his father at the millstone and yet this will bring him to the world to come. Rashi explains that the first case refers to a son who feeds his father delicacies, yet does so grudgingly. Whereas in the second case, "he honors him with his words, with encouraging words and solace, and he imposes the work on him with gentle language while explaining the urgent need, that there is no other way for them to support themselves."


What this means for you is that even if you are unable to help your mother financially, it does not mean you can't be a good son. You need to make an extra effort to help your mother in every other way, tending to her physical needs to the best of your ability and being in close contact with her to cheer and encourage her.


SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 31b

ARCHIVES

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.

THE JEWISH ETHICIST, NOW IN BOOK FORM

You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
HARDCOVER
PAPERBACK
Sales help fund JWR.









© 2009, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics