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"A father can protest that his son not say Kaddish for his mother, because the father's honor comes first (Darchei Moshe 376)." http://dafyomi.co.il/erchin/halachah/er-hl-025.htm

"Question (an orphan): If both my father and mother ask me to bring them water, which request should I honor first? Answer (R. Eliezer and R. Yehoshua): Your father's comes first, for you and your mother are commanded to honor your father." "Chachamim taught that the Mitzvah to honor a father takes precedence, because also the mother is obligated to honor him." "Rambam (14): If one's father and mother both asked him to bring water, he desists from honoring his mother and (first) honors his father, because he and his mother are commanded to honor his father." "The Rivash (115) says that if a man is adamant that his son not say Kaddish for his mother, the son must obey, for honoring the father has precedence." http://dafyomi.shemayisrael.co.il/kerisus/halachah/kr-hl-028.htm

It is the mother, not the father, who carries baby for nine months and delivers birth, risking her life. Why is father more important then?

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    See here it looks like you're hurt. It is not easy to understand...in these conditions – kouty Mar 17 '16 at 7:20
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    And with this being said, Leonor, welcome to Mi Yodeya. If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. I hope you'll look around and find other Q&A of interest and stay learning with us. – mbloch Mar 17 '16 at 7:42
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    It might be a question if you could actually ask it rather than making assumptions and trying to be rhetorical. – sabbahillel Mar 17 '16 at 9:25
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    Isn't the answer contained in your post? "[B]ecause he and his mother are commanded to honor his father." – Daniel Mar 17 '16 at 15:34
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The answers to your question are on the same page as the source of your question

  • "Ish Imo v'Aviv Tira'u" (Parsha Kedoshim, Vayikra 19:3) teaches that father and mother are equal (see also the Mishna in Keritot 6:9)
  • "When the Torah commanded to honor parents, it mentions the father before the mother, and in the command to fear parents, it mentions the mother before the father. This teaches that [father and mother] are equal for honor and fear" (Rambam Hilchot Mamrim 6:2)
  • Now technically, since a woman is also commanded to honor her husband (Rambam Hilchot Ishut 15:20), when a son has a choice between mother and father, he starts with his father. The proof is on the same page "if his mother was divorced from his father [and therefore doesn't have an obligation towards the father], he [the son] honors first whichever he wants" (SA OC 240).

One should remember the importance Judaism places on mothers and wives, e.g., a man is commanded

  • to love his wife as much as himself and honor her more than himself (Yevamot 62b, Rambam Hilchot Ishut 15:19)

  • relative to what he can afford, he should eat and drink less that he can afford, dress himself according to what he can afford, and honor his wife and children with more than he can afford (Chulin 84b)

See here for further reading on the respective honor of mother and father.

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Your question is why, in a situation in which all else is equal, honoring a father takes precedence over honoring a mother. It's a fair enough question.

The kaddish quote is unrelated, so let me explain that one. Say we have parents Abraham and Sarah, and their son Isaac. Sarah dies, and Isaac walks into synagogue and starts saying kaddish. Abraham hears his son saying kaddish and gets panic attacks as it reminds him of his own mortality, so he asks Isaac to stop. (At least when he's around.)

The exact same law would apply if the parents were reversed. Say Abraham dies, and Sarah gets panic attacks hearing Isaac saying kaddish. She can object in the exact same way. (The law was phrased about fathers because more often they'd be hearing kaddish, but the legal concepts are identical.)

As described by other answers, if one's parents are divorced, the child can choose which parent to honor if there's a conflict. The favor only goes to the father if she's currently married to the mother.

So Judaism is not favoring the father over the mother. (If anything, one's core status of Jew-or-not depends on one's mother!) There, does, however, seem to be some legal weight favoring husband over wife. That can also be hard to understand, but I'd recommend asking that as a separate question.

  • The quote from Darkei Moshe (although it's actually the Beis Yosef) seems to contradict your statement that the Kaddish quote is unrelated. He uses the reasoning of "the father's honor comes first" to explain why he stops the son from saying Kaddish. It would not work the other way around. – Y     e     z Mar 18 '16 at 13:40
  • @Yez ah, thank you. The question is whether the same conflicts-of-honor apply if one is no longer living. It was an interesting tzu shtelt. The general kaddish question is whether the parent is ordering the child to violate halacha. – Shalom Mar 18 '16 at 16:04
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Kidushin 30B

It was taught: Rabbi said: It is revealed and known to Him Who decreed, and the world came into existence,that a son honours his mother more than his father, [31A] because she sways him by words; therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, placed the honour of the father before that of the mother. It is revealed and known to Him Who decreed, and the world came into existence, that a son reverences his father more than his mother, because he teaches him Torah, therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, put the fear [reverence] of the mother before that of the father.
A widow's son asked R`Eliezer: If my father orders, 'Give me a drink of water,' and my mother does likewise, which takes precedence? 'Leave your mother's honour and fulfil the honour due to your father,' he replied: 'for both you and your mother are bound to honour your father.Then he went before R`Joshua, who answered him the same. Rabbi,' said he to him, 'what if she is divorced? ' - 'From your eyelids it is obvious that you are a widow's son, he retorted: 'pour some water for them into a basin, and screech for them like fowls!'

Summary of the lecture

You see that it is not a problem of preference, that:
  1. It is well known that the son naturally honor their mothers more than their fathers. Torah does not deny that.
  2. Respect is a transitive law. It is through "transitivity of respect" (rather than confrontation between two respects), the son honors his father before his mother
  3. The proof that there is no concurrency: when parents divorced (then we have concurrency), there is no precession.

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The general rule is that both be honored. However, Hilchot Mamrim 6:14 gives a situation when a father and a mother ask for something at the same time. In this case, one should choose the father to attend first and gives the following reason: Honoring one's father takes precedence over honoring one's mother because both he and his mother are obligated to honor his father.

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