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What is my obligation if my parents tell me to ignore a mitzvah?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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You shouldn’t comply with their wish.**

You have an obligation to honor your parents because G-d told you to.

G-d told you AND your parents to observe all the Torah’s rules—both the “do’s” and the “don’ts”.

So if you honor your parents because G-d commanded you to do so, it obviously should not cause you to transgress another commandment which G-d gave to you AND your parents.


In addition to this line of reasoning simply being logical, the Torah makes sure to alert us regarding this as well:1


“Every man shall fear his mother and his father, and you shall observe My Sabbaths. I am the L-rd, your G-d.”


Rashi on that verse: Scripture juxtaposes [the commandment of] observing the Sabbath with [that] of fearing one’s father [and mother], in order to state [the following principle]: “Although I have admonished you regarding the fear of your father, nevertheless, if he tells you to desecrate the Sabbath, do not listen to him.” And this is also the case with all the [other] commandments. [This is further indicated by the last section of the verse:] “I am the L-rd, your G-d” [where “your” is in the plural form, meaning to say,] both you and your father are obligated to honor Me! Therefore, do not listen to him to negate My commands.


**Of course this must not be done in a confrontational and argumentative way, rather in the most polite way possible. You would need to indicate that you usually love to do what your parents request - but in this situation you cannot. You can prove this to them by jumping at every occasion to do their bidding when there is no conflict with Torah.


Footnotes

  • 1. Leviticus 19:3.

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Rashi
Acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105). Legendary French scholar who authored the fundemental and widely accepted "Rashi commentary" on the entire Bible and Talmud.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.