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Kiddushin 31b sets down the basic obligations of honoring and fearing of one's parents (brackets follow Rashi):

איזהו מורא ואיזהו כיבוד מורא לא עומד במקומו ולא יושב במקומו ולא סותר את דבריו ולא מכריעו כיבוד מאכיל ומשקה מלביש ומכסה מכניס ומוציא

What is fear and what is honor? Fear - do not stand in his place, nor sit in his place, nor contradict his words, nor support hi[s position]. Honor - feeding, giving to drink, dressing, covering, bringing in, taking out.

Let's say a parent tells his child, I dunno, to take the garbage out. Every Rabbi I've heard on the topic says that the child is obligated to do so, but why? It doesn't seem to fall under any of the examples listed here.

  • Fear is usually considered lo ta’ase- don’t sit in his chair, don’t contradict, etc. honor is usually considered ase- feed him, dressing, etc. Since taking out the garbage would be an ase, I would assume it’s part of the ‘honor’ commandment not the ‘fear’ commandment. – Lo ani Apr 18 at 22:24
  • I think "listening" in the title is a very broad term, you might want to narrow it down, because your question about garbage is very specific - see the differences in answers of msh and maurice. – Al Berko Apr 20 at 22:33
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I heard a lecture by Rabbi Yisroel Reisman (of Brooklyn; one of his weekly-in-the-winter motzae Shabas lectures on N'viim) which cited various opinions and concluded, as best as I can recall, that at least some major pos'kim (halachic decisors) rule practically as follows: The command to revere/respect one's parents (mora) includes not contradicting them in such a way as they will find out about it. Thus, if your mother tells you that it's cold outside and that you must wear a sweater, then you must wear a sweater as long as you are within sight. However, once you are out of sight, and if she won't find out you didn't, there is no requirement to wear the sweater. (Wearing overclothes was actually the example used in the lecture.) The other command, to honor one's parents (kibud), means to do things for them, like feed them. This is whether they will know you did it or not, but wearing a sweater, or any other action that doesn't benefit them, is not included.

It seems to me, then, that, according that view, if your mother asks you to take out the garbage and will know whether you did so, it's in both categories. But consult your own rabbi for practical advice.

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Depends on what you are doing:

Torah study is greater than the mitzvah of honoring parents. [Megillah 16b]

But in general, you don't have to obey your parents:

-If someone wants to pray in a synagogue where [the congregation] prays with more devotion, and his mother protests, he does not have to listen to his mother. [19th-century Russian rabbi Eisenstadt, Pitchei Teshuva, Yoreh Deah 240:22]

-If the father protests against the son marrying a specific woman that he wishes [to marry], the son does not have to listen to his father. [Rema on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240:25] (But if she is not Jewish, or not moral, or not religious, he must listen to his father. [Chaim Hezekiah Medini, 19th-century Jerusalem rabbi, Sdei Chemed, Ma’arechet Caf 147])

-Many rabbis say that the mitzvah to dwell in Israel overrides the obligation to honor parents. Some disagree. [Contemporary rabbi Moshe Lieber, The Fifth Commandment, p 131]

-If a parent asks a son to shave his beard, he need not listen. If a parent tells a child not to speak to a certain person, the child need not obey. [Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah 240:16; Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Braun, She'arim Metzuyyanim Bahalakhah 143]

However, the Talmud says:

Rabbi Aha ben Yaakov raised his daughter's son, Rabbi Yaakov. When he grew up, [the grandfather] said to him: “Give me some water to drink”. He replied: “I am not your son.” [Sotah 49a]

This implies that, had he been the son, he would have had to obey.

My conclusion from all this: Generally, you must obey your parents when it's a matter that concerns primarily your parents and does not violate commandments, but not when it's a matter that concerns primarily you. There are exceptions. But yes, you must take out the garbage if it's THEIR garbage and you are not studying Torah at that moment. Otherwise you don't.

  • Nice sources to prove the point. I'm not sure of your "general conclusion" is correct, though. Happy Chag Hamatzot. – DanF Apr 18 at 17:34
  • So... This doesn't answer the question at all. I asked whether taking out the garbage is considered honoring them or fearing them. If you had said that you don't have to listen at all, that would be a valid answer, as it rejects the premise in such a way that the question disappears. But you've just supported my premise without actually answering the question. – DonielF Apr 18 at 18:42
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    @DonielF -- And a chag sameach to you too! – Maurice Mizrahi Apr 18 at 19:45
  • @MauriceMizrahi And to you three. :) – DonielF Apr 18 at 22:33

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