Tuesday, 8 March 2011

JVO: Siding with One's Spouse vs. Siding with One's Parents

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. I am proud to serve as an Orthodox member of their Panel of Scholars, offering answers from our perspective.

This post is the first in a weekly series on the Nishmablog presenting the questions to which I responded and the answers that I gave.


Question, number 346 (http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/346):

When there is a conflict between "siding" with one's spouse vs. one's parent - is there a Jewish view on marriage vows vs. obligation to respect parents? How does one balance these two obligations when they seem to conflict?

My answer:
Apparently at first glance, respect for one's Parents should trump respect for one's spouse, after the "TEN COMMANDMENTS" tells us to Honor our Father and Mother!  What could be more direct than that?

Yet, Scripture is actually a bit more ambiguous as we see in
Genesis 2:24 - "Therefore a man shall leave [abandon] his Mother and Father and cleave to his wife.."

The husband's commitment to his mate apparently supersedes his commitment to his parents.  Note - This may apply all the more so for a wife who is traditionally deemed to have to put her spouse first.

Our Holy Oral Law takes a more nuanced view.

While cursing or striking a parent is a more severe transgression than doing the same to one's spouse, one may disregard one's parent's wishes with regard to several issues including

1.  Choice of Spouse
2. Choice of Place to learn Torah

Also see the narrative re: Jacob, Rachel, and Leah Genesis 31:14-17

It's difficult to quantify the totality but the sources seem to indicate that

When it comes to honor, respect, reverence, etc.  it seems that Parents command more.  EG one mourns a spouse for a month - like a sibling while  Parents are mourned for a full year
When it comes to commands, life-decisions, and actual performance issues, spouses seem to come first.

Yet in all cases Obedience to Torah Trumps [see Rashi on
Leviticus 19:4]

So I would presume based upon my read of the sources that siding  with one's spouse typically trumps.

Hierarchy of Reverence

Hierarchy of "Agreement" or Siding



Genesis 2:24
Genesis 31:14-17
Exodus 20:11
Leviticus 19:4 [and Rashi]
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143, 195

Answered by: Rabbi Richard Wolpoe

No comments: