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I have a question about the talmudic statement about not waking up a parent even in the extreme circumstance of a huge deal on offer..

I recall when I was in school the Rabbi was going through some gemara, showing us look how brilliant the gemara is in deciding what to do about what if a person gets injured e.g. an injured arm. He should be compensated according to a consideration of how much less a slave would be worth if the slave had a injured arm. The rabbi said that's a clever way of working it out.

Then, or another time, we did a Gemara that seemed to teach, that if your father is sleeping, then even if somebody comes offering a large amount of money for some diamonds he has on offer, you should not wake him up. (I suppose it was Tractate Avoda Zara 24a)

At this point, the Orthodox Rabbi teaching the class said "Don't listen to this Gemara"

I have heard one person suggest that oh maybe the father had Alzheimers disease, and the son couldn't open the chest to sell the jewel to him, but that's really reading in.

I'm wondering what the standard Orthodox positions are on this..

It was quite striking that the Orthodox Rabbi teaching the class said "don't listen to this Gemara! But I can see why he'd say that.

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  • The gemarra doesn't say don't wake up your father in this circumstance. It says that we can learn how to honor our parents from this non jew, who went to the extreme. Perhaps he knew his father wouldn't want to be woken up? It's not an irrational rule that you must always follow. Even if there were context to that story, it's something to learn from. – robev Feb 14 at 5:49
  • Isn't the story a bad example of honoring parent - like in most cases that'd infuriate them and with good reason. And if it was a special case like you suggest, where maybe for some reason the father wouldn't have wanted to be woken up even in that extreme circumstance then wouldn't that important fact have been relevant to mention in the story?! – barlop Feb 14 at 5:56
  • It's basically explicit...the gemarra is using that story to illustrate amazing kibud av vaeim. I don't understand you then. In your question you're surprised that a rabbi said not to follow this gemarra, and now you're saying that the gemarra itself said it was bad practice? – robev Feb 14 at 7:17
  • @robev you write " you're saying that the gemarra itself said it was bad practice?" <-- no I am not saying that! – barlop Feb 14 at 7:38
  • "Isn't the story a bad example of honoring parent - like in most cases that'd infuriate them and with good reason" if the gemarra thought it was a bad example, it wouldn't bring it. If it thought it was a good example, then there's more to the story. You want the "more to the story" to be explicit? What's your question? Why were you surprised a rabbi said not to follow the story? Seemingly he said the simple understanding is misleading, as it seems to have misled you, so don't follow the simple reading, as there's obviously more going on. – robev Feb 14 at 7:42

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