There are two capital offences against parents: cursing a parent or striking a parent (and causing an injury).

If someone did this in front of 2 witnesses with a warning etc. so they were due the death penalty, is the parent who is the victim allowed to intervene and not have their child sentenced to death?

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    – msh210
    Feb 19, 2020 at 11:29

2 Answers 2


The Sheiltot (R. Achai Gaon, 8th c.) says that although a parent can forgo his honor, he cannot forgo the prohibition against striking and cursing. שאלתות (פ׳ משפטים סוף סא): האב שמחל על כבודו, כבודו מחול, ה״מ כבודו, אבל הכאתו וקללתו, לא. The Minchat Chinuch (R. Joseph Babad, 19th c.), on the other hand, holds that a father can forgo the prohibition against striking (Mitzvah 48). However, even the Minchat Chinuch concedes that after the fact, it is too late, because the sin has already occurred:

ונלע"ד דזה שחייבה התורה בהכה או"א [אב ואם] או בחבירו היינו דוקא בלא רשות אבל אם אביו ואמו אומרים לו שיכם או יקללם או חבירו אינו עובר בלאו הזה ואינו חייב מלקות ולא מיתה ע' פ' החובל ובר"מ פ"ה מה' חובל לענין ממון אם נותן לו רשות ע"ש. ולענין חיוב מלקות או מיתה נלענ"ד פשוט דאינו עובר ואינו חייב וכ"נ מלשון הר"מ פכ"ו מהלכות סנהדרין ה"ו שכתב אע"פ שיש לו לדיין או לנשיא למחול על כבודו א"י למחול על קללתו וכן שאר העם אף על פי שמחל המקולל מלקין את המקלל שכבר חטא ונתחייב עכ"ל וע"ש בכ"מ משמע דוקא אם כבר קילל כיון שכבר עבר עבירה לשמים אין המחילה מועלת אבל בתחלה שנותן רשות לקלל אין כאן עבירה כלל וכן כאן גבי מכה...‏

In his Torah Shleimah (Mishpatim no. 289), R. Menachem Mendel Kasher cites two works of the Ba'alei Tosafot as well as the Abarbanel on the Torah who ask how the Torah can have a death penalty for one who curses his parent--why can the parent not forgive? All of these sources conclude that the parent cannot forgive (though each gives slightly different explanations):

ובפענח רזא: תימה איך יפסוק בזה מיתה (במקלל), ימחול האב ויפטר דהא אמרינן האב שמחל על כבודו כבודו מחול, וי״ל דהרי מכה ומקלל אינם חייבים בלא התראה ועדים ואח״כ משקבלו התראה בעדים שוב אין יכולים למחול...ובכת"י מושב זקנים: הקשה הגן, היאך תמצא מקלל אביו במיתה והלא יכול למחול לו דהכי קיי"ל בפ״ק דקדושין האב שמחל על כבודו כבודו מחול, וי"ל נהי דיכול למחול על כבודו, על בזיונו אינו יכול למחול. ובאברבנאל: ואפי׳ שאביו ואמו ימחלו לו וירצו הם לחמול עליו אין מוחלים לו.‏

  • 3
    Well researched
    – CashCow
    Mar 20, 2015 at 8:05
  • Kavod is a positive thing so mechila can just mean it's as if he already "paid up". Bizayon is a negative so no such svara applies. Does the Minchas Chinuch also apply this sevara to chavala generally?
    – Loewian
    Apr 1, 2015 at 22:00
  • @loewian I am pretty sure that Minchas Chinuch holds that anyone can allow someone to hit him. This probably also relates to his position which R. Moshe argues vehemently against in which he applies the rules of dinei mamonos to someone committing suicide.
    – wfb
    Apr 1, 2015 at 22:12
  • @wfb meaning he's meikil?(!)
    – Loewian
    Apr 1, 2015 at 22:14
  • @wfb combine that with a certain famous tzitz eliezer (or perhaps more than one since ubar yerech imo) and you've justified halachically the modern left pretty much across the board.
    – Loewian
    Apr 1, 2015 at 22:17

I am going to point to a different mitzvah - Ben sorer umoreh requires that both parents willingly transport the child to Beis Din for both the initial warning and the final judgement. If either relents or refuses, the child cannot be punished.

No such dispensation is provided for in the case of cursing or hitting your parents.

@Shokhet notes that the father has the choice to be mochel on his kavod. While this is interesting, it is immaterial to the case at hand, since cursing or striking your parents is not only a violation of kibbud av v'em, it is also a violation of the direct prohibition against striking your parents, and a violation of "Ish aviv v'imo tira'u." [Additionally, it's also a separate prohibition against striking any person (though Chazal are at odds in Bava Kama as to whether you can preemptively mochel someone who strikes you.)] These latter three are unaffected by the father's forgiveness of the son - he can mochel his own kavod, but he does not have the power to gloss over issurim at a whim.

If he wishes to plead with the witness to keep them from bringing the case to court o testify, he can certainly try, but he cannot nullify the existing transgressions.

  • But striking someone who isn't your parent is not a capital offense.
    – Daniel
    Mar 18, 2015 at 20:42
  • @Daniel Correct. The OP was only concerned with the case of a child striking a parent, which IS a capital offense. Mar 18, 2015 at 20:47
  • You argue that even if the father can be mochel his kavod, the prohibition of striking any person remains. Even supposing this is true, that prohibition is not a capital crime, so the father has successfully prevented the son from being sentenced to death
    – Daniel
    Mar 18, 2015 at 20:51
  • @Daniel I was illustrating only that the source of the aveira of striking a parent is NOT from kibbud av, and that one who strikes transgresses a multitude of aveiros. As I go on to say, there is a SEPARATE ISSUR of striking your parents that is actionable. You haven't saved your son because he isn't being PUNISHED for violating your kavod. Mar 18, 2015 at 20:55
  • Fair point. I see know that that is what you are saying in your answer, but I think it's not totally clear. Perhaps consider clarifying a bit
    – Daniel
    Mar 18, 2015 at 20:57

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