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Who has precedence in honor: A father or an old person? It seems that the answer would be a father; (*) however, there is a midrash that implies otherwise:

Yalkut Shimoni, end of Bemidbar 752

שבשעה שהיו יושבין אצל קרח אביהן רואין את משה וכובשין את פניהן בקרקע, אמרו אם נעמוד מפני משה רבינו נוהגין בזיון באבינו וכבר נצטוינו על כבוד אב ואם, ואם לא נעמוד כבר כתיב מפני שיבה תקום, מוטב שנעמוד מפני משה רבינו אע"פ שאנו נוהגין בזיון באבינו

Rough translation:

At the time that [the sons of Korach] were sitting by Korach their father, they saw Moshe, and they covered their faces in the ground. They said: If we will stand before Mosheh Rabeinu, we are disgracing our father, and we have already been commanded about kibud av va'em; but if we don't stand, it is already written "Before old people stand up"! It is better that we stand up for Mosheh Rabeinu, even though we are behaving disgracefully to our father.

The midrash continues and praises them for their decision. (They probably didn't consider the commandment to honor talmidei chachamim, because it wasn't commanded yet, because that is learned from "Fear את Hashem, your G-d," which is in Devarim.)

My question: How did honor of old people take precedence? Is this the halachah in the Shulchan Aruch that we go by? And what is more, not standing up would have been a "sheiv ve'al taaseh" (sitting down and not doing anything), and so would seem to be preferable.

So is this truly the halachah?

(*) The Taz YD 242:1 quotes the Tur that a rav gets more respect than a father because the father brings you into olam hazeh while the rav brings you into olam haba. An old person brings you into neither of them.

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Why "It seems that the answer would be a father"? – msh210 Jun 24 '12 at 23:13
Why would Shev VeAl Ta'Aseh be better when the Mitzvah is literally to stand? – Seth J Jun 24 '12 at 23:46
@msh210 The Taz YD 242:1 quotes the Tur that a rav gets more respect than a father because the father brings you into olam hazeh while the rav brings you into olam haba. An old person brings you into neither of them. SethJ: Eruvin 100a, if I remember correctly. – b a Jun 25 '12 at 0:40
If you have motivation for your question, please edit it into the question, b a. – msh210 Jun 25 '12 at 0:45
up vote 1 down vote accepted


The Sifra and Onkelus and Rashi and pseudo-Yonasan and the Bavli and Midrash Raba all cite a view that "מפני שיבה תקום" itself refers to talmide chachamim. Now, we do not accept this view l'halacha, but perhaps the Yalkut or at least the children of Korach did. In that case, the Taz cited in the question would come into play and make the children of Korach stand.

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Per Torah.org Moshe was older than Korach.

Korach felt that Moshe and Aharon, who were older that he, were entitled to the two most coveted roles – leader of the Jews (Moshe) and Kohein Gadol (Aharon). However, he strongly felt that as the next in line, he was entitled to the Nasi position.

Korach also had a Chiyuv of respect for Moshe due to Moshe being older than Korach and his stature. Therefore his children chose correctly by standing up for Moshe, since their father was also obligated in Kovod for Moshe.

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How do you know moshe was older than korach? – Double AA Jul 19 '12 at 20:20
I am still searching for a printed acceptable source and will add it in as soon as I find it. – Gershon Gold Jul 19 '12 at 20:50
I think that the language of that Torah.org page is imprecise. They took that statement from Rashi (Bemidbar 16:1), but Rashi says nothing about Moshe being older than Korach, just that Moshe's father was older than Korach's father. – b a Jul 19 '12 at 22:47
I agree, and therefore my comment earlier that I am looking for a printed acceptable source. – Gershon Gold Jul 20 '12 at 0:39

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