Query coming from some of the answers to this question: How should one prioritize honoring parents in comparison with other laws? 'Rabbi Eliezer was asked: “How far does the honor of parents [extend]”? If your father is transgressing a precept of the Torah, you must not say to him, “Father, you are transgressing a precept of the Torah”, but... “Father, such and such a verse is written in the Torah.” Kiddushin 32a'

'...if you father is doing something irresponsible, illegal, or אסור, you then have a responsibility for public safety, no matter who it is'

'...you say I have a responsibility to public safety. Would that include protecting the public from idolatry? Would I be justified in stoning my father?'

Deuteronomy 13:6-11 states that: 'If your brother, the son of your mother, tempts you in secret or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your embrace, or your friend, who is as your own soul saying, "Let us go and worship other gods, which neither you, nor your forefathers have known." ... And you shall stone him with stones so that he dies, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God.'

And Ezekiel 20:18 advises: 'And I said to their children in the wilderness, 'Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols.''

So what do we do with regards to parents we know to be idolaters? If we have already gently tried to refer them to the Torah, or tried to remove a component of their idolatry (as Rachel supposedly did with Lavan's idols'), all to no avail...

Makkoth 12a states that; "Never is a son [to be] commissioned [by the Court] to punish his father, whether it be to inflict a flogging or pronounce a [formal] execration on him, save only in the case of one who entices [another] to idol worship..." https://halakhah.com/pdf/nezikin/Makkoth.pdf (Apparently this also excludes being a blood-avenger against your father if he murdered your own brother - but you can kill your grandfather thus)

Can anyone supply further info on this, or confirm? Are we actually supposed to inform on and/or punish the wilfully idolatrous parent?

  • About Hezekiah dragging Ahaz on ropes?
    – ANH
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 2:08

1 Answer 1


This is kind of a moot point:

A.) We're not doing capital punishment today. In fact, no Jewish court today can punish someone for worshiping idols. (Well, I guess they could throw them out of a synagogue, but that's about it.)

B.) Critically -- close relatives can't be witnesses. (The source of this is actually in Deuteronomy -- parents shall not be killed because of children...) So even if you do see your parents worshiping idols, a theoretical court of Jewish law from long ago would refuse to accept your testimony about them! (And thus as you're not a witness, you wouldn't be stoning anyone.)

If your question concerns "what are my obligations to honor my parents if they are idolaters", please ask that separately in a more-focused question.

  • 3
    With regards to A, I am not looking at how it applies today. I'm asking how the halacha finds it, because this kind of law that implies that when the Messiah comes/Temple is rebuilt/we all live in Israel with a Beth Din, then the capital punishment would/will apply. With regards to B, thankyou, but the Makkoth implies that if the parent is found guilty of idolatry by other witnesses, the child would still be obliged to join the community in punishing the parent. Regarding the 'honour' question, the point was that the quoted answer was left un-responded to. So it's not moot.
    – ANH
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 10:27

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