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Cursing a parent

Question:

What are the parameters of the command not to curse one’s parents? If one gets in a fight with one’s parents, would cursing them out (using contemporary dirty words like… etc.) to oneself without them hearing be in violation of this command? If one has done this, what should one do after? Would saying “bli neder” nullify it?

Answer:

There are a number of commandments regarding the respect that a child has to have for a parent. To honor, to revere, not to ridicule, and not to curse a parent. The parameters of the severe transgression of not cursing a parent, which carries the punishment of stoning, only applies to cursing a parent with the name of Hashem. Fortunately, this is not your question. On the other hand, the words you are referring to would be included in ridiculing a parent, which is also a serious sin, as one of the curses given on Mount Gerizim was “Cursed is a person who ridicules his father and mother” (Deuteronomy 27-16). Saying bli neder will not affect this, because saying “bli neder” is a term used in reference to making a vow, which is not applicable here.

The fact that you want to correct what you did, is terrific! Unfortunately, nowadays many of us have difficulties with our relationship with our parents, especially during our teenage years, when fights and friction are quite common. The fact that you want to correct this, shows on your purity of heart, and you will to perfect yourself, and you have all of my respect!

We all make mistakes, especially when we are heated up during an argument, nevertheless, what was done can be corrected. I would suggest that you buy an English book that discusses the laws of kibbud av v’em, there are a few of them published by Artscroll. This will increase your awareness of these mitzvos and will help you out.

As a side point, it is good to know, that although you will try to be more respectful to your parents, it is very natural that there will be mishaps in the future. Don’t let this get you down. If you make a mistake, and it knocks you down, make sure that at least it doesn’t knock you out. Get up and continue, because this is the way we grow.

If you have any other questions regarding this don’t hesitate to contact us.

Best wishes

Sources:

Rambam Hilchos Mamrim 5-15, Shulchan Aruch Y:D 141-6, Sefer Chareidim 1-32.

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