This is a practical question, looking for existing Shu"Ts that cover this scenario:

  • A child takes care of his old and dying father for a couple of years - he feeds him, pays for a nurse, housekeeper etc.
  • The father does not talk and neither of them is explicitly mentioning his monetary intentions.
  • One day the father dies and inherits the house to his two sons.
  • The first son claims that his expenses must be repaid before splitting the inheritance money.

According to the Halacha that the expenses for honoring parents are on the parents themselves, Is he right?

  • 1
    Would he have claimed the money had his father recovered? had he needed it quickly before he died?
    – Double AA
    Sep 12, 2018 at 23:50
  • Did the child nagoiate payment with the father before he died, or did the father assume the child was doing acts of kindness for him?
    – ezra
    Sep 13, 2018 at 0:05
  • 1
    When were the expenses due? Before, when, or after he died?
    – DonielF
    Sep 13, 2018 at 0:51

1 Answer 1


The cost to the son is a debt incurred by th father, to be repaid out of his estate. No financial loss need be incurred in helping parents. The Talmud explains:

At whose expense [must the parents be helped]? Rav Yehudah said: The son's. Rabbi Nachman ben Oshaia said: The father's. The Rabbis [ruled:] At the father's expense. An objection is raised: It is said: “Honor your father and your mother”, and it is also said: “Honor the Lord with your substance.” [Proverbs 3:9] Just as the latter means at personal cost, so does the former. But if you say: At the father's [expense], how does it affect [the son]? [What personal loss is there?] Loss of time. [Kiddushin 32a]

The law, summarized in the Shulchan Aruch, is:

The son provides food and drink from the resources of the father and mother. That is, he is not required to pay for serving his parents. However, he is obligated to honor his parents through his physical presence even if by doing so he will miss work…But if the son himself does not have [enough food for one day], he is not obligated to miss work and end up a beggar. [Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 240:5]

  • Everything you wrote is the background, the truth is that the question is much deeper than you might think as it tries to determine the obligation of the father vs obligation of Tzedaka of the son.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 16, 2018 at 15:03
  • The fact that the son didn't have to pay out of his pocket does not mean that if he did pay out of pocket it's an automatic debt.
    – user6591
    Oct 17, 2018 at 12:00

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