Tuesday, November 13, 2007

kibud av and talmud torah

The Shi’iltos at the end of P’ Toldos presents a dilemma of competing values: a person is obligated to honor his parents and must attend to their needs, but at the same time feels compelled to travel away from his parents for the sake of learning torah – which takes precedence? The Shi’iltos cites the gemara Megillah 16 which explains that the reason the Torah informed us of the age of Yishmael at death is so we could calculate the years Ya’akov spent away from home. Ya’akov spent 14 years learning before he came to Lavan’s house for which he was not punished for not fulfilling kibud av, indicating that talmud torah takes precedence over kibud.

The Netziv explains that the Shi’iltos understood the pasuk of Yishmael’s age as a gezeiras hakasuv which teaches this din; without the pasuk, kibud av would be doche the mitzvah of talmud torah. Interestingly, Yevamos 6 tells us that kibud av is a “hechsher mitzvah” and would ordinarily not be doche other mitzvos, but here, apparently it would if not for the gezeiras hakasuv.


  1. That is a very interesting Netziv -- but I think it makes sense, the gemara in Yevamos notwithstanding. We're all familiar with the gemara in MK that if a mitzvah is ee efshar al yede acherim that TT will not be doche such a mitzvah. Only you can be mechabed your parents so it makes sense the kibud av takes precedence -- even if kibud av vaem would ordinarily be doche other mitzvos because it is just a hechsher, vis a vis TT, any mitzvah activity which cannot be done by others is doche TT. There's more to say but leave it at that for now.

  2. >>>Only you can be mechabed your parents so it makes sense the kibud av takes precedence

    Kibud in the sense of providing for their needs is efshar al ydei acheirim. The Netziv raises this point in trying to understand what the safeik was.

  3. And let's say that this is kibud av that is not efshar al yede acheirim -- for whatever reason. Then without the gezeiras hakasuv you would say that kibud should trump TT. kamasha lan the gezeiras hakasuv. Why doesnt that work