Yes, I’m sad Pesach is over. I can live with matzah. I can live with Pesach cake (thanks to my wife’s baking ability). My kids think they can live without school. Really the only one in my house who is happy that Pesach is over is guinea pig, who had a very hard week without his little bowl and his (chometz) pellet food.
This post on Orthonomics caught my eye. The original story is on imamother. A family, recommended by a Rosh Yeshiva as decent folk, agreed on a salary with a teenager for her to work as a mother’s helper over Pesach. Following the holiday they tried to stiff her. Of course we don’t know the other side of the story, but the same sort of thing has happened so many times to my wife in her business that I feel confident in saying that if this particular story is not true, there are enough similar stories that are. It goes without saying that to be nizhar on a mashehu of chometz but to trample on basic morality is a sham. All I want to add is that I think there is a sore lack in the community of any venue to redress situations like these. It costs $20 (if I remember correctly) to file a claim in small claims court in NY for disputes over less than $5000. It doesn’t solve everything – your opponent can still stare the judge in the face and lie; your opponent can still just ignore a judgment and refuse to pay. But at least it’s something. Find me a Beis Din whose summons won’t just be tossed in the garbage at whim and who for 20 bucks will sit to arbitrate a dispute. Go ahead, make my day. Really, you will.
On to the parsha: Chazal darshen, “Ish imo v’aviv tira’u v’es shabosai tishmoru,” as teaching that even if a parent tells you to violate Shabbos, you may not. Why is a special limud needed to teach that the mitzvas aseh of kibud av is not doche Shabbos? Shabbos is both an aseh and a lav, kibud av is just an aseh -- obviously Shabbos wins.
I saw an interesting answer in the Ksav Sofer (the gemara itself touches on this - see B"M 32). We know that aseh doche lo ta’aseh, but not a lo ta’aseh + another aseh. The Rishonim (Tos. Chulin 141) debate how that works: Do we apply the usual rule of aseh doche lo ta’aseh to knock off the lav but are still left with an issur aseh on the balance sheet, or does an aseh + lav completely negate the power of the opposing aseh to be doche anything? Nafka minah: Whether or not you get malkos.
Assuming that an aseh that opposes a lav + another aseh can push off the lav, why can’t it push off the opposing aseh as well? The reason is because you can’t privilege one aseh over the other – they are both equal. But what if there are two aseh’s opposing a lav + aseh? In that case the balance sheet is no longer equal.
This is exactly (says the Ksav Sofer) the situation the Torah is speaking about here. If both your father and mother tell you to do something that would violate Shabbos, the rule of aseh doche lo ta’aseh would remove the lav of Shabbos, which would leave two asehs (kibud av + kibud eim) against the one aseh of Shabbos. If not for the special derasha we might have thought one should violate Shabbos in such a situation – kah mashma lan not.
There is a lot to think about here and room to argue.
The Chizkuni addresses the same question and adds a further point: The halacha is that one is not obligated in kibud av for parents who are Torah violators. We don't need a derasha to tell us that Shabbos is stronger than or doche the aseh of kibud av because there is simply no mitzvah of kibud av to listen to a parent who says to desecrate Shabbos.
Chizkuni explains that the chiddush here is that even if a parent says to violate only a shvus -- a din derabbanan -- on Shabbos, kibud av is still put aside in favor of Shabbos. I'm not sure what the answer means. Does the Chizkuni mean to suggest that a parent who says to violate a derabbanan is not a rasha and there exists a mitzvah of kibud in that case? [Why should there be?] Does he mean that one could at least entertain such a hava amina? And how can the chiddush of a pasuk be that dinim derabbanan of Shabbos are not set aside for kibud av? I'm not clear on any of this and maybe I should do more thinking about it before writing, but lately I've had so little time that thinking while writing is the best I can do for now.