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Kibud av when father is abusive.


This question I have was נוגע me and my siblings very much.
Growing up, our father was very abusive. We were beat up physically and were screamed at daily. Some of my siblings are destroyed for life . I personally tried my best as an adult to honour my father but there is no question that we all tried to stay away from his as much as possible and as we grew older we answered back when we were screamed or abused. As he grew older , we did take care of him, medically and whatever was necessary for him but there was never an emotional connection to him. At the time of his פטירה, we asked מחילה .
My question is twofold, what are the obligations when one has such a parent in general and if one was נכשל which I guess we all were, is there anything to do now?
I’d like to add that we established a צדקה fund to help out many people,schools, kollel in the name of my father and are known for giving out צדקה in honour of my father. Thank you


From what you are describing, you have a lot of animosity toward your father, and you don’t really feel like respecting him. On the other hand the real reason for the mitzva of kibbud av v’em is because your parents are the source of our life, and the cause of all the physical pleasure that we have. If not for them, we would not exist. Therefore honoring our parents is really making a statement that we are appreiciative to the fact that they gave us our life, and appreiciative to all the good that comes along with it. In fact, even in an extreme case, let’s say that parents put the child in an orphanage, and never gave the child anything else after that, the child would still have an obligation to honor them. This is simply because the parent gave the child his life. How much more so to a parent that brought the child up, gave the child food, clothing, schooling, etc. Even though every parent has faults, and possibly great faults in thier middos, there is still a lot that the child has to be thankful to the parent, and therefore the mitzva still applies.

The gemora in Kiddushin  31a states, “Until what extent does one have to have be careful not to be disrespectful to a parent? The gemora answers that even if the parent hits him and spits in his face, he should remain silent and have fear of Hashem, the one who commanded us to fear our parents”. Your situation does not sound worse than this, therefore you are still obligated not to hurt or be disrespectful to your father, even though you feel he was abusive. The fact that you asked him מחילה, was very good. The fact that you opened the tzedakah fund in his honor, is a zechus for him. Besides that, after a parent is the child can still fulfill the mitzva, with any mitzvah that the child does. This is because the parent essentially gets a “dividend” on each mitzva that he child does. This is because the parent is the one who brought the child to the world, who did this mitzva. therefore whatever you do, in a way is part of the mitzva.

Best wishes


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