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Limits of Kibud Av v’ Em


I want to understand what is required of me as a daughter to fulfill my obligations of Kibud Av v’ Em to my parents. My parents love me and are proud of me and we have a healthy relationship most of the time. There are times that my father will ridicule, degrade or insult me. Do I need to accept his rude comments quietly? Can I speak back and tell him not to speak to me like that? He sometimes will insult my mother too. Can I defend her and tell him he is being inappropriate? I don’t want to violate Kibud Av v’ Em, but as I get older, I am finding it harder and harder to simply accept the way he speaks to me. Please advise me as best as you can.



Your situation is not easy, although when other people speak to us rudely, we can speak up, when it is a parent we have to be careful not to embarrass them even if what is being said is rude, hurtful, embarrassing and wrong. This is because the torah forbids us to hurt or embarrass our parents, even in extreme situations. The Gemora relates that even if the son is sitting in front of his students, wearing the finest of clothing and his parent embarrasses him, he must not answer back. Even if the parent, smacks him, spits in the face, and rips his shirt, he must remain silent, and fear Hashem who commanded[1] us to fear our parents. (The child may however, ask for the monetary damages in Bais Din.[2])

Remaining quiet at this time is very hard, and a person who does remains quiet, is given a special reward. In fact, the person’s spiritual level at that time is so great, that it is a special time that the person can daven, and Hashem will answer his/her tefillos. In fact, there are numerous stories, attesting to this. One of them was that childless couple, once came to R’ Chaim Kanievsky zt”l, that he should help them. He told them, “there is nothing that I can do, however if you find a person that gets embarrassed and keeps quiet, as that person to daven for you. The person waited a while, and when he was at a wedding, and he saw someone screaming at someone else, (one person built on what the other person thought was his property) and that person was screaming at him in front of the whole crowd. The defendent was about to answer hm back, and suddenly someone asked him,” before you answer him back, tel me talk to you for a minute. I am waiting to have a child for over 20 years. I went to R’ Chaim, and he told me that he can’t help, me and the only thing that will help is to find someone who is embarrassed by someone else, and keeps quiet. Please, please, don’t answer him back, and instead daven for me that I should have a child”. The man agreed, and a little while later the couple had a child. (The end of the story was, that the other neighbor found out about this story, and he realized that he was wrong, and that made peace between them).

This is especially true in your situation, when we have the obligation to remain quiet.

Hashem should help you and give you all that you need.

[1] קידושין ל”א., שו”ע סע’ ג’.

[2] ש”ך שם ס”ק ד’.


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