“Cutting Off Parents” is Contrary to Honoring Parents for Shalom Bayis

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By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA

Director: Jewish Professionals Institute. Email: rudomin@jpi.org Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America www.jpi.org/holocaust/

Over the past weeks a discussion has arisen about the new trend by Frum married children to “cut off” their own parents from their lives if they find the parents to be too meddlesome and difficult to deal with, as if all Mitzvos in the Torah are supposed to come easily and if it is difficult to perform that Mitzva, especially one of the Aseres Hadibros (Ten Commandments), then just “cut it off” from your list of obligations in Yiddishkeit. Only the modern age of psycho-babble could produce such a misbegotten happening.

All the sides in this serious debate with deadly consequences have sought to prove that Halacha is on their side. The pro-cut-off folks have relied on an article in a Jewish publication that has not cited one single known Halachic authority such as Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT”L or Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv ZT”L or any living Posek, Gadol, Chacham, Rosh Yeshiva or Chasidic Rebbe of that caliber to justify the radical step by Frum children of shutting down Kibbud Av Va’Em (honoring parents) forever for some adult children who face all sorts of other challenges in life in any case, who cannot take the heat.

While those opposing cutting off with parents and who deal with the challenges HKB”H has handed us, simply cite the many Pesukim (verses) in the Torah such as Exodus 20:12 & 21:17; Leviticus 18:7 & 19:3 & 20:9; Deuteronomy 5:16 & 27:16, and the Shulchan Aruch that make the obligations of Kibbud Av Va’Em the highest priority.

There is nothing in Halacha that transforms natural parental criticism into modern “verbal & emotional abuse” and grounds for an “uncontested divorce on demand” (in the symbolic sense) from one’s own flesh and blood parents. We are NOT talking of cases where there has been very serious extreme physical abuse often of an intimate nature and the core physical life of the child was in question. However the modern trend in psychology is to place emotional and verbal challenges on the same level as very excessive physical abuse.

The Halacha does have exceptions but they are just that, exceptions, and not of the kind advocated by the side promoting cutting parents out of one’s life on flimsy “verbal & emotional” excuses that the parents are not saying nice things and that, like spoiled children who have to get their way, it is not the children who are maybe at fault and should be “punished” but it’s the parents instead that get blamed for everything that went wrong, a real inversion of the natural and Halachic order of things.

So what does the Shulchan Oruch really say about honoring parents? There are many excellent resources that have clear translations and explanations. As that old song from my childhood goes: “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, when you read you begin with A, B, C …” and the A, B, C in the Shulchan Oruch is very clear how it all begins and should be.

It would be worthwhile for everyone to brush up on the five pages in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 240 & 241 that deal with the Halachos of Kibbud Av Va’Em that starts out by stating (my free translation):

“A) One should be exceedingly careful in honoring one’s father and mother and fearing them…B) An example of ‘fearing’ is not to stand in their place…and not to sit in their seat at home and not to contradict them…and must not call their father/mother by his/her given name neither when alive nor when dead…C) How far does ‘fearing’ them go? If the son/daughter was dressed immaculately and is sitting at the head of the congregation, and his/her father and mother came along and ripped his/her (their child’s) clothes and hit him/her (their grown child) on the head, and spit in his/her face he/she should not react to them but should rather remain silent and fear the King of Kings (God Himself) who has commanded him/her (to suffer the indignities) because one has been commanded (to accept and practice i.e. to keep the Mitzva of Kibbud Av Va’Em)…D) What is an example of ‘honoring’? that a child must give food and drink, dress and cover, take in and out his/her parents without fanfare…and should serve his/her parents like a servant serves his master…”

The above are from the “A, B, Cs” — the very premises and foundations of Kibbud Av Va’Em — that come first and foremost. Yes there are exceptions to them but first must come the absolute fulfillment of the fundamentals on the highest level. What can be more “abusive” than your parents ripping your nicest clothes in public, slapping you on the head and spitting in your face? all in public and certainly in private by enraged or even deranged parents in doing that according to the Shulchan Oruch and an adult child must just accept it and “suffer in silence” because this is what God wants from you. No modern mental health person would ever agree to this, but there you have it, it is Paskened in the Shulchan Oruch by Rav Yosef Karro ZT”L and Rav Moshe Iserelis ZT”L.

Recently I was with a Chabura (study group) of men who have mostly married off their children and I posed to them the question of if it is right for Frum married children to “cut off” with difficult parents? The leader of this Chabura, a distinguished Rabbi and professional person said that in his more than 30 years experience with adult children and elderly parents that Bnai Torah would NEVER act disrespectfully under any circumstances even to the most difficult and cranky of parents while those who may be Orthodox but are not Bnai Torah seem to have less inhibitions of mistreating their parents quite often.

This same Rabbi pointed out to me that it is not just Kibbud Av Va’Em in the Aseres Hadibros that is chucked aside but even the first of the Aseres Hadibros, the requirement to believe in HaShem is very sadly thrown away by some people who “hate” HaShem and fail to truly Love Him with All their hearts and souls and strengths.

May we merit to be among those who properly fulfill all the Mitzvos in the Torah and the Shulchan Oruch, Amen.



  1. Bizarro bizarro bizarro. I would not think such a child would merit Torah.

    Wax and energy if the kids just light the shabbas candles. They are just kindling their own blind luck in life.

    That is pretty scary.

    Who knows if this is really the concept anywhere. If so, I will be sure to remember that our own problems are inherent.

    And thus it is. Torah is our way.

  2. The author of this piece cites only physical abuse committed by parents as grounds to sever relations with them. He did not address the cases of psychological abuse committed by parent(s) which is much more common, much more elusive, but equally toxic and with long-term, crippling repercusions. I urge the author to consult with Rabbi Dovid Cohen of Flatbush. He states to the effect that the Torah allows us to spend up to 1/5 of our assets on any positive mitzvah. Kibbud Av ve’ Aim is such a mitzvah. The toll inflicted by an abusive parent on a child, be it physical, psychological, sexual abuse, IF it is it is in excess of the 20% threshold, such a child should sever his ties with the abusive parent. Who is to determine what’s in excess of the threshold? The rabbanim. We have qualified rabbanim. Rabbi Dovid Cohen is one of them.

      • Who was the leader of this chabura? This distinguished scholar that you mentioned that said”

        “Bnai Torah would NEVER act disrespectfully under any circumstances even to the most difficult and cranky of parents while those who may be Orthodox but are not Bnai Torah seem to have less inhibitions of mistreating their parents quite often.”

        Who was this person? Or do you just not name names? Or does this person choose not to be named?

        You seem like a really bright person though there is something very wrong with the way you think and the way you view things.

      • Maybe you should consult with the Rav before being so dismissive. I have been told a similar thing by Rav Nachman Bulman Z”l. I know somebody who was told recetly by Rav Chaim Kanievsky that he has a Mitzvah to sue his mother in court. If you are really interested in knowing what Gedoliom say put down an email which you can be contacted on and I would be happy to give you as many names as you require. Only rabonim, no psychologists.

  3. That’s if your parent is insulting YOU, but what if they are mean,insulting,yelling at YOUR spouse and are trying to breakup your marriage?

      • The child must have done something really bad to get this result.
        And there you have it folks. There is no more perfect example of blaming the victim than that one sentence.
        -Battered wives must’ve been asking for it.
        -Women who were “attacked” must’ve led their attacker on by their manner of dress or action.
        -Jews must’ve done something to be so hated by the Germans (and Russians, Spaniards, Romans, Greeks, etc.)

        Rabbi Rudomin regularly responds to posters with nastiness, sarcasm and condescension. His stock reply to those who detail verbal abuse is “Who says kids are so perfect?” or words to that effect – as if one case of rotten kids has anything to do with a separate case of abusive parents. He brings down the case of “ben sorer umoreh” – a rebellious child who commits specific actions – to prove what? That is a case which many doubt ever occurred and besides, (once again) family “a” may have a rotten child while family “b” has abusive parents and neither has anything to do with the other and neither case proves anything about the other.
        He then levels the accusation that those who advise separation from abusive parents are being misled by the advice of “single therepists who are gay” – how to even respond to that lunacy?

        Rabi Rudomin is practicing the equivalent of what the anti-vaxxers do. He has not brought down a single rov or therapist who supports his viewpoint – not one.

        I hope nobody ever has such a difficult time with parents or parents-in-law that they need to seek advice from a rov or mental health professional, but if they need to then they should do so. And, contrary to what Rabbi Ruderman claims, such advice isn’t a din Torah where both sides must be present and present their cases, but rather it’s advice for what to do.
        Respecting one’s parents does not mean one must make oneself available for abuse, whether physical or verbal. And no, verbal abuse doesn’t mean critiquing a dress as Rabbi Ruderman sarcastically suggested, but how about constant denigration of one’s spouse, e.g. “You could’ve done better”, “She’s such a fat slob”, “He’s a lazy bum”, “He’s so much stupider than you”.
        Unfortunately, I personally know of cases of abuse towards kids, towards parents (yes, elder abuse is all too real) and between spouses, sometimes so bad that a court order of protection had to be issued. Such things do exist and anyone who denies that is dishonest and/or an absolute fool.

        • Well stated. Anyone with any experience will know that there is no rule as to who makes the abuse, it can be a parent, a child or a spouse, just as you stated.

  4. Sorry, but the world isn’t so black and white.
    You may have that kind of chiyuv to your parents but your spouse doesn’t. Years of degrading go a long way to eroding shalom bayis. When the issue becomes “divorce” your parents or true divorce from your spouse and breaking up your home, things look a little different.

    Why is it so hard to be nice to your child in law? Isn’t Onaah also a sin?

  5. The Rabbi is %100 percent right.
    Part of the problem, is that we live in a disposable generation. Disposable diapers, disposable cameras, disposable tablecloths, disposable cellphones, disposable mop heads, disposable marriages, disposable friendships, disposable employees, etc… Everything can be replaced. Or so they think.
    Everything that happens in life is midai kineged mida. If these people disrespect their Parents, then THEIR OWN CHILDREN WILL EVENTUALLY DISRESPECT THEM! Young Children are very smart and they pick up all the nuances of their own parents reactions and hanhaga’s. This applies to one’s marriage as well. Why so you think we have a situation where, many times, the children of divorcees, themselves, ultimately get divorced?! They observe what their parents did and they follow the same mihalech, unfortunately.
    We live in very spoiled times where no one wants to be mivater!
    Cutting off ones Parents is thee ultimate KOFU TOV that’s possible. If not for their parents, these little shnooks wouldn’t be walking the face of this earth. If there are serious “abuse” issues, one has to seek out and speak to a Rav, Rebbe, teacher, professional, on how to deal with the matzav. It is sometimes a tremendous nisayon/challenge dealing with them. But do you really think you can outsmart HKBH by escaping life’s challenges by throwing your parents under the bus?! If you run away from this challenge, HKBH will send you another. That is why we are on this earth. If their is no nisayon, what are we doing here?
    As an aside, those that throw their parents away, WHAT WILL THEY DO WHEN THEY ARE NIFTER??? Will they sit shiva for them? Will they say Kaddish? Will they say Yiskor? Can you just imagine the embarrassment of what others will say? Try finding a shidduch for your kids after such a situation. Who would want to marry into such a bitter resentful family?! Who would want YOU for a shver or shviger?! So even for pure selfish reasons, it doesn’t pay to cut off from your Parents.

  6. Other rabbonim disagree. I told you I don’t want the shivger crossing my door with that sour punim. Enough already I told you that I am not a Shaamatah and guess what the dinninm of Lushun hura apply to you too!!

    • If kibud av vaem suppose to be easy?
      What about a parent who remarrie after the long illness and death of first wife? Can the children decide that he is not entitled to happiness and thus cut all contact with him and prevent their children from speaking to him and his new wife?
      Of cause they consulted “daas torah ” but would not say who it is.

      • Of course it’s not all black and white, it depends on many different factors such as:

        how long after the first wife passed did this man remarry?
        was the first wife a really special woman?
        is the second wife a nasty vindictive lady?
        Was the man close to his kids before? Is he a nasty person?
        how are the children from the other spouse dealing with this new marriage? And, how is their relationship with their parent prior to the new marriage?
        how was the relationship with this man and his children before the second woman came into play? Did she make it better or worse? Is she perhaps the problem? Is it definitely the kids?

        Are you considering all these factors or are you just thinking this from a black and white or a yes or no perspective?

  7. What about married kids from a second marriage who stop talking to their father because they begrudge his new found happiness.? And would not allow their own kids, his grandchildren, from having contact with him.

    2nd marriage

  8. I think this article is a little too vague. If you parents are meddling on your home and demanding divorce or things that could lead to divorce the proper thing is not to “cut them off”, but putting a little distance is helpful. Move to a neighborhood a little farther away (If the parent is elderly however this may not apply.)

  9. I’ve spoken with a tremendous known gadol about cutting off contact with a parent whose words and actions destroy a home and was very PRO. There are many children that come into marriage with loads of baggage from parents who are verbally and emotionally abusive (i’m not even going into physical abuse). These children have a hard enough time functioning as a proper parent and spouse and it can take years of therapy and working on oneself to make some progress. The continuing interference of those parents can be toxic In their homes and cause a repeat cycle of abuse for the next generation.It is a very difficult decision for a child to make and brings on loads of guilt. It is not at all as simple as the writer of the article makes it sound. It is an unpleasant thing to do and has many side effects. There are many children who NEED to be cutting off parents in order to move forward but are not doing so because of fear and guilt and other reasons. Obviously one must consult with a rav and possibly a therapist.

  10. “The leader of this Chabura, a distinguished Rabbi and professional person said that in his more than 30 years experience with adult children and elderly parents that Bnai Torah would NEVER act disrespectfully…”

    Walking away is not actively disrespectful.

    There is a case in the Gemara where an Amora moved away from his mother because of her silliness.

    Arvaham Avinu left his father.

    ” What can be more “abusive” than your parents ripping your nicest clothes in public, slapping you on the head and spitting in your face?”

    No one said that you have to go looking for that abusive parent in the street to become abused publicly. And no one said that you cannot avoid them.

    • Avraham Avinu’s father was an idol maker and worshipper. Avraham Avinu was the first Ger Tzedek and Geirim are supposed to leave their past behind. Avraham Avinu was commanded by God to leave his Land, Birthplace and Father’s House to move to Eretz Yisrael. Avraham Avinu was the first Jew to go on Aliya. Avraham Avinu was Mekarev people and did not push people away or cut them off. Avraham Avinu prayed to save the wicked people of Sedom.

      Yes, even the Shulchan Aruch rules that if parents have lost their minds or are very sick, you can hire someone to take care of them that is neither cutting them off nor abandoning them.

      • The Shulchan Aruch also says that a parent should not be overbearing.

        By the way, it seems to me that we are defining “cut off” differently. I’m defining it as walking away and ignoring. What is your definition?

    • Walking away? And ladies and gentlemen thats the difference in general between different generations!
      Tell me do the grandchildren not have the right to know their grandparents?? And vice versa?
      Mental abuse?? Did the baby boomer generation not have verbal abuse? Physical abuse? Did that cause them to walk away and cut ties off with thier parents? Cut the baloney! People avoid the truth!

  11. What right do married children of the man who finally found happiness, to prevent the grandchildren from having contact with him. Is it daas torah? or just selfishness.

    • perhaps if a good man gets blindly stuck with pure evil, the children are not left with any recourse.

      There is usually an issue when this incoming newlywed has serious issues including previous extrication from their own children while the ones who have not extricated are sadly stuck waiting for their inheritance.

  12. no one is obligated to willingly put themselves into a verbally abusive situation. I highly doubt the author of this article has ever experienced this from a parent to a severe extent. for those who have, it is unfair to judge them.

      • You are writing from a very black and white perspective . i know of at least two world reknowned gedolim/poskim who disagree with you. I would never say over their names because of a lack of kavod (they would not want their names posted on the internet). One of these gedolim has told me personally that it says in the torah “viazav ish es imo” that when a man gets married he is supposed to “abandon” his parents. He said how much more so a women who has chiyuvim to her husband. If her parents are preventing her from being a wife to her husband then it is obligated upon her to cut ties. It is an extremely difficult and complicated decision to cut off parents and is very unpleasant for the child. You should not be making light of the an unfortunate situation by attributing it to the “modern age psychobabble.”

    • But did the baby boomers cut off with the previous generation over emotional/verbal abuse or physical abuse? Cut the baloney! Face reality. People do what they want!

  13. It is quite interesting to see Mr. Rudomin’s approach to the Torah. The Torah tells us precisely how to do things.
    Question: May a married woman show “respect” to her parents in a case where she will be violating her responsibilities to her husband?
    Answer: The halacha is clear that she may not. (Leviticus, 19, 3.) “OEvery man shall fear his mother and his father, and you shall observe My Sabbaths. I am Hasehm” A person may not violate any halacha in order to listen to their parents or to make their parent happy.

    Mr. Rudomin calls this an exception. He advocates not listening to the Torah in the name of Kibud Av. In reality, he is advocating violating the Torah. Is kibud av just an excuse and a stick? Does he want people to keep the Torah, or does he want people to do what he wants them to? You can quote 100 pesukim about the severity of being mechalell Shabbos. But if you try to have people keep the laws of Shabbos on Tuesday, you are wrong! There’s no Shabbos on Tuesday. Funny comments about exceptions are irrelevant and will never create a new mitzvah.

    Likewise, where there is no mitzvah of kibbud (honor) and morah (fear), one may not choose to be frummer than the Torah, at the expense of the Torah. True, there are no teshuvos from Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Elyashive about lighting Chanukah candles in the midst of Elull. That has no bearing on the fact that the mitzvah of Chanukah has the exemption of Elull. But if you choose to steal candles and a Chanukia in order to light them on Purim, in observance of Chanukah – you have committed a sin. Not only have you not done a Mitzvah, you have committed a sin. If you try to violate your marriage and marital responsibilities in the name of honoring your parents, you have committed a sin.

    Using a Mitzvah for your own sake, and then misrepresenting it may enter in megaleh ponim b’Torah shelo k’halacha. I look forward to your respectful responses.

  14. perhaps if a good man/woman gets blindly stuck with a spouse with serious mental issues, the children are not left with any recourse.

    There is usually an issue when an incoming newlywed has serious issues including previous extrication from their own children while the ones who have not been extricated are sadly stuck waiting for their inheritance.

    How can people assume that everything is black and white and make comments without a clue as to what is going on?

  15. While I would like to thank the author for the chizuk that I received for the mitzvah of kibbud av va’em and for all mitzvos in general, the source material the author brings has nothing to do with the question at hand. As one commenter has already insinuated, the Shulchan Aruch is discussing whether or not one may react angrily to his parent. The Shulchan Aruch is not discussing whether or not one must come to his parent to honor him or her if he knows that he will be subjected to this type of behavior. The author clearly feels himself capable of issuing a halachic ruling to the effect that offensive words and harsh behavior do not threaten a child’s “core” wellbeing. Even assuming that he is qualified to issue this ruling, surely there may be rabbanim who disagree. As we are dealing with an issue of halacha and the author is writing in a public forum, I am surprised that he cannot appraise us of the opinions of well-known and recognized poskim on the topic. Of course, no one would argue with him in a case where a parent is simply somewhat “difficult.” But what of a case in which the child feels his entire identity being threatened? This is why we have poskim; let us consult with them, instead of penning angry and un-nuanced public missives making grand proclamations.

  16. second marriages are extremely difficult and have a very high divorce rate. For it to be successful, the new couple needs to bend over backwards and do everything in their power to make the children feel comfortable.

    Coming in with the expectation of having “rights” and “how could the children not want the parents happiness” and completely miss the things that are needed to assist in having a successful outcome is what probably got you guys into this mess.

    Continued abuse and strongarming your children or grand children are all the more reasons for respected rabbonim to encourage them to keep away, especially if there is any sort of inappropriate behavior taking place.

    Often the complainers will never see what the issues are with themselves but then again, why do they need to? The Torah says that they are right! They can do whatever they want, they are protected by the ten commandments!

  17. How dare u write about a topic that u clearly didn’t experience urself. U never experienced the pain and the anger toward ur parents bit u feel like u can tell people not to cut off from their parents. How about not being interested in doing any mitzvah yet all ur worried about is the parents

  18. If I remember correctly, Rabbeinu Bechaye says on kibbud av v’em, lemaan yaarichun yomecha, as a payoff for the extra hardship involved in caring for an (elderly) parent

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