According to Halacha, which takes precedence, honoring a Talmid Chacham, or honoring parents? For example, if a Talmid Chacham ask a Jew for something, and a Jew’s parent requests something else, which should they pick?

2 Answers 2


Mishna Bava Metzia 2:11:

אֲבֵדָתוֹ וַאֲבֵדַת אָבִיו, אֲבֵדָתוֹ קוֹדֶמֶת. אֲבֵדָתוֹ וַאֲבֵדַת רַבּוֹ, שֶׁלּוֹ קוֹדֶמֶת. אֲבֵדַת אָבִיו וַאֲבֵדַת רַבּוֹ, שֶׁל רַבּוֹ קוֹדֶמֶת, שֶׁאָבִיו הֱבִיאוֹ לָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, וְרַבּוֹ שֶׁלִּמְּדוֹ חָכְמָה מְבִיאוֹ לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְאִם אָבִיו חָכָם, שֶׁל אָבִיו קוֹדֶמֶת. הָיָה אָבִיו וְרַבּוֹ נוֹשְׂאִין מַשְּׂאוֹי, מֵנִיחַ אֶת שֶׁל רַבּוֹ. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵנִיחַ אֶת שֶׁל אָבִיו. הָיָה אָבִיו וְרַבּוֹ בְּבֵית הַשֶּׁבִי, פּוֹדֶה אֶת רַבּוֹ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ פּוֹדֶה אֶת אָבִיו. וְאִם הָיָה אָבִיו חָכָם, פּוֹדֶה אֶת אָבִיו, וְאַחַר כָּךְ פּוֹדֶה אֶת רַבּוֹ: ‏
... If one finds his father’s lost item and his teacher’s lost item, tending to his teacher’s lost item takes precedence, as his father brought him into this world, and his teacher, who taught him the wisdom of Torah, brings him to life in the World-to-Come. And if his father is a Torah scholar, then his father’s lost item takes precedence. If his father and his teacher were each carrying a burden and he wants to assist them in putting down their burdens, he first places his teacher’s burden down and thereafter places his father’s burden down. If his father and his teacher were in captivity, he first redeems his teacher and thereafter redeems his father. And if his father is a Torah scholar, he first redeems his father and thereafter redeems his teacher.

  • 3
    What if the Talmid Chacham making the request is not your teacher?
    – Joel K
    Feb 21 at 21:26
  • None of this negates my answer. You can find support for each position. Feb 21 at 23:34
  • @JoelK then the implication from this gemara, if hes a talmud chacham that's not your teacher, your father would be first.
    – Shlomy
    Feb 22 at 14:15
  • "Your teacher" in this case refers to a lifelong teacher, not a teacher for a year or so. And if your father paid for the teacher to teach you, he is responsible for that learning and still gets precedence.
    – Esther
    Feb 22 at 17:21

It depends on what's being asked. I don't think there is a unique answer. On the one hand, the Mishnah goes so far as to say that the Torah compares the honor and reverence due to father and mother to the honor and reverence due to God Himself. [Peah Y 1:1, 6b] Nothing similar is said for scholars. A contemporary rabbi adds:

Even if one were to honor father and mother as he would a king and queen, he would still not fulfill his obligation, since the Torah compares their honor to the honor due to God Himself. Therefore, one should imagine how he would feel if God were to show up at his doorstep. With what trepidation would he receive Him! One should honor parents with that same attitude. [Shmuel Houminer, 20th-century Jerusalem , Eved Hamelech]

On the other hand, the Talmud says:

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

So, if the scholar says "Come, let's go study Torah together" and your father says "Can you help me move some furniture today", listen to the scholar. If the requests are reversed, listen to your father.

  • 1
    "Nothing similar is said for scholars" but there is in pirke avos 4:12
    – Dude
    Feb 22 at 2:43

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