Vol 36.16 - Yitro 2 Spanish French Audio Video
Pesia bas R' Nochum z"l
Michoel ben R' Avrohom Yehuda z"l
Debate why there is no boundary of (of a type of) Shituf in honoring one's parents.
1. The Ramban writes in his commentary on Torah that:
“Of the Ten Commandments - Five are for the honor of the Creator and five are for the welfare of man. For ‘honor your father’ is for the honor for G-d - since it is for the honor of the Creator that He commanded that one honor one’s father who is a partner in the formation of the child. Five commandments thus remain for the needs and welfare of man.”
It is understood from his words that honoring one’s father and mother (Kibud Av v’Eim) are also included in the matters between man and G-d. Therefore its place in the Ten Commandments is in the first five commandments which are all matters between man and G-d. For this (the “Honor of G-d”) is more primary than that of the father and mother’s (honor).
The Chinuch (Mitzvah 33), in the roots of the Mitzvah of Kibud Av v’Eim, writes that:
“It is proper for a person to recognize and give gratitude to one who has done good for him, and not to be a boor and denier and ingrate - for this is the most evil and repulsive characteristic that can be towards G-d and man. Rather one should take to heart that the father and mother are the reason for his being in the world and therefore one truthfully ought to give them all respect and any benefit that he can - because they brought him into the world, and even endured many struggles for him, in his childhood. When one imbues this characteristic in one’s soul, it will cause him to recognize the goodness of G-d, Blessed be He, that He is the cause for one’s existence, and the cause of all his ancestors’ existence until Adam HaRishon. He (G-d) brought him into the world and provided his needs for all his life, and set the proportion and completeness of his organs. He gave him a soul that knows and understands – and that without the soul that G-d graced him with, he would be like a horse and mule that does not understand. Therefore one should set his mind to contemplate how much he should be careful in his service to G-d, Blessed be He.”
According to the words of the Chinuch, it is (just) explained that there is a relation between Kibud Av v’Eim and “honor of G-d”. For by imbuing in oneself, gratitude to one’s father who bore him, there will arise from this an acknowledgement of the goodness of G-d, Blessed be He.
However, from the words of the Ramban, it appears that Kibud Av itself is primarily the honor for G-d, as he states:
“it is for the honor of the Creator that He commanded that one honor one’s father which is a partner in the formation of the child.”
And for this reason the Mitzvah of Kibud Av v’Eim is mainly not among the Five (commandments) that are for man” but rather among the beginning Five commandments that speak of the “honor of the Creator”.
2. One could say that the explanation of this is:
In the Chinuch it states that:
“The father and mother are the reason for his being in the world and . . they endured many struggles for him, in his childhood.”
The Ibn Ezra (similarly) writes that:
“The son only came into the world through his parents and they weaned, nurtured, raised, fed, and clothed him”.
However, Ramban precisely states just that the father: “is a partner in the formation of the child”, and nothing more. The plain source for his words is from the saying of the Sages that:
“Three partners are in (responsible for) a person . . . Therefore when one honors his father and mother, G-d says ‘I accord it to them as if I dwelled between them and they honored Me”.
One could say that the reason that Kibud Av v’Eim itself is “honor of G-d” is just because he “partners (with G-d) in the formation of the child”. For although he parents “weaned and nurtured”, this is not in the realm of “partnership” with G-d. For although, in truth, it is G-d that “sustains the entire world”, nevertheless, since these things (that they do for the child) are things of nature, that a person does (seemingly) of his own power, they are not called being a “partner” with G-d’s deed. However, the formation of the child (יצירת הולד), (is called being a “partner”) - for it is not in man’s sole power to bring a child into the world but it is only through the visible “partnership” with G-d, who “implants within him a Ruach and Neshama etc.”
And one could possibly say that even the portion that the father and mother impart (the body) - are dependent, in visible manner, upon G-d. For as is known, the power of reproduction in created beings is not of their own accord, but rather because of the power of the Omnipotence (Ein Sof) and boundlessness of G-d (כח הא״ס והבלי־גבול). For created beings, of their own accord, are because of their composition, limited and bound – and it not relevant that they have, within them, the power of reproduction, which is a boundless power (כח בלי גבול), to reproduce infinitely
(for even the actual birth is an aspect of newness, a sort of Yesh me'ayin (Lit., “something from nothing”; creation ex nihilo). Therefore it is only from the Omnipotent power of G-d (Ein Sof) who imparted this (ability) in man’s body with the power of (G-d) who acts wondrously (המפליא לעשות).And this is similarly, plainly, in animals (viz. below Par. 5)
(And to note: There are many people (men and women) that are completely healthy and fit (ושלמים), so much so that that there is no deficiency in the organs of their bodies. Nevertheless they cannot reproduce. This is because the aspect of reproduction is not just a natural aspect, but rather it is dependent on the infinite power of G-d (כח הא״ם) in order for them to give birth, as it states:
“Male and female, He created them. G-d blessed them, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply etc.”
Thus, even though they are complete and their bodies are naturally able to give birth, nevertheless, they need the blessing that they be able to be “Be fruitful and multiply”. And this blessing is the infinite power of G-d that is drawn down in the person to enable him to give birth).
And since the entire formation of the child is not possible without the revealed partnership with G-d, therefore, when one honors his father because of this aspect - that he “is a partner in his formation” – this is also “honor of G-d”.
And this is also the gist of the explanation of Ramban’s words that Kibud Av v’Eim is “honor of G-d”. For from his words it appears that (as aforementioned Par. 1) this is mainly “between man and G-d” (which is why it is stated in the first five commandments).
3. This can be better understood by prefacing the words of Talmud (Kid. 31a):
“When the Holy One, blessed be He, proclaimed, ‘l am (the L-rd your G-d)’ and ‘You shalt have no (other gods before me)’, the nations of the world said: He teaches merely for His own honor. As soon as He declared: ‘Honor your father and your mother’, they recanted and admitted (the justice of) the first commands (also).”
(Rashi states: “How much more so is one required to give Him (G-d) honor, since He also was a partner in his (the person’s) creation, just like his father and mother - and his life and death are given into His hand”).
In the explanation of this passage, The Chida writes, according to Rambam (beginning of Hilchot Avodah Zarah) that:
“During the times of Enosh, mankind made a great mistake, and the wise men of that generation gave thoughtless counsel. .Their mistake was as follows: They said G-d created stars and spheres with which to control the world. He placed them on high and treated them with honor, making them servants who minister before Him. Accordingly, it is fitting to praise and glorify them and to treat them with honor. . they began to construct temples to the stars and offer sacrifices to them. They would prostrate themselves before them . . This was the essence of the worship of false gods”.
and the same is in our case that “the nations of the world thought”, as Rambam writes, that – G-d gave honor to the stars and constellations and placed them on high. And this was the deed that they did. And from Him they learned to honor them and prostrate themselves before them. And when they heard ‘l am (the L-rd your G-d)’ and ‘You shalt have no (other gods before me)’ , they said: He teaches this merely for His own honor, for He is jealous, G-d forbid, and He does not want that they should give honor to anything else and the Saying (commandment) only came to nullify their deeds. Yet when they heard: ‘Honor your father’ and that He was equating their (parents’) honor to His own honor, as it were – from this they knew that G-d was not jealous, G-d forbid, for He commanded that they honor their father and mother with the same degree of honor - and that He equated his parents’ honor to His own honor. Therefore they were forced to conclude that G-d placed the constellations and stars etc. on high to illuminate this lowly world but not to worship them and they recanted and admitted (the justice of) the specific commands - for even though it is speech , it does not contradict the deed , G-d forbid”.
The Tzemach Tzedek writes, similar to the above explanation, and also adds an explanation of the reason for the difference between:
All the stars , and constellations (המזלות) and the heavenly host in general, that it is not proper to give them honor even though they are servants who minister before Him and He placed them on high to conduct the world
One’s father and mother that we were commanded to give to them honor, so much so that they are called partners with G-d (as it states: Three partners are in (responsible for) a person etc.
He writes that:
· All the stars etc. – not only do they not possess any dominion and rulership, G-d forbid, of their own accord – but it is even more than this – G-d conducts and influences the world - through them. They do not possess any free-will at all, whether to influence or not to influence, or whether to influence this much or that much. For G-d alone influences through them, like an ax in the hand of the hewer etc. – therefore it is not proper to accord them any honor.
· However regarding the parents who are partners with G-d in the person’s creation – even though, truthfully, their part is from G-d, for He created and enlivened even the parents,
(for this is similar to the land that produces vegetation through the power that it was given from G-d when He said "Let the earth sprout grass”, so too is the sewing/reproduction (הזרעת), of a man and his wife through the Saying “be fruitful and multiple”) –
Nevertheless, they are called partners with G-d in the creation of the person, for they do have free choice to cohabit or not. Therefore one is obligated to honor them.
4. To note:
The aspect of idol worship of the generation of Enosh
(Who thought that the stars etc. have free-choice whether to effect and influence with the power of G-d)
is not just a mistake, in which they erred in the understanding of the things etc. But rather (their mistake is that) the essence of this concept is contrary to the principles of faith (עיקרי האמונה), as Rambam states in his Thirteen Principals of Faith:
“The fifth principal is He (G-d), may He be blessed, is the only One whom it is proper to serve, to praise, to make known His grandeur, and to fulfill His commandments. This should not be done to any entity that is subservient to Him, be it the angels, the stars, the planets, or the elements or their compounds. For their activity is programmed. They have no control, and no choice but to perform His will. Thus it is improper to serve them as intermediaries in order to come close to G-d. Rather, one should direct his thoughts toward the Almighty alone and abandon anything other than Him. This is the fifth Principle, warning us against idolatry, as affirmed throughout the Torah.”
Nevertheless, this is not a contradiction to what the Tzemach Tzedek write that Kibud Av v’Eim is because they have free choice. For the intent of this is not that, since they have choice, they have dominion , G-d forbid, in the conduct of the world, and that it is within their hands to reproduce or not reproduce (or whether to do good or do evil) without G-d’s Will, G-d forbid.
But rather it is like the dictum:
"The wine is the owner's, the credit for it is given to the butler ("Chamra l'mara tivusa l'shakia" - Bava Kama 92b),
For even though the “butler” does not influence and give of his own but rather of the “owner’s” (the owner of the wine) and even in this, the one pouring the wine is performing the mission of the wine owner, Nevertheless, since he is not forced to do so and his deed is with free choice – therefore he receives gratitude for this.
The same is in our case, since they decided to be messengers of G-d to have this son and to nurture and raise him, they receive reward and honor for this choice.
However, one should examine the words of the aforementioned Ramban that the aspect of Kibud Av v’Eim is (not gratitude for their choice, but rather) because the father “is a partner in his formation” . . .
5. One could say that the primary intent of Ramban of:
“‘honor your father’ is for the honor for G-d, since it is for the honor of the Creator that He commanded that one honor one’s father who is a partner in the formation of the child”
Is that the formation of the child (through the power of procreation) is just the infinite power of G-d (Ein Sof) that exists within the parents, and they possess this only because G-d imparted this power of Ein Sof in the nature of man. Therefore this is not honor to the father and mother, in and of itself, but rather it is just “honor of G-d”, the power of G-d (Ein Sof) that exists within the parents.
And this is also the proof that, from the perspective of the aspect of Kibud Av v’Eim, that they are partners with G-d in the formation of the child – that it is primarily a Mitzvah between man and G-d (“ “honor of G-d” “), and not something between man and his fellow:
If the honor that is obligated from the formation of the child – is due the father and mother, in their own right – since they possess free choice – and because of their choice and will they brought the child into the world – then it is a contradiction to true faith on the Unity of G-d (באחדות השם) .
For there is no other dominion in the conduct of the world, except for G-d. Therefore the aspect of honor here is just from the infinite power of G-d (כח הא״ס של הקב״ה) that comes and is drawn down in an infinite and unlimited (בל״ג) manner in the reproduction through the parents. For since this infinite power illuminates and unites with them, therefore it is fitting to say that the honor that is bestowed on the father and mother (from the power of G-d (Ein Sof) that exists within the parent, and that which, through them he was formed) – is the “honor of G-d” which is in the realm of “between man and G-d”.
6. From all the above, we find that there are two aspects and properties in Kibud Av v’Eim:
1. An intellectual Mitzvah (מצוה שבלית) which is an aspect between man and his fellow
(Whether it is due to an aspect of gratitude for everything that his father and mother bestowed on him and because of their raising and educating him) or whether it is in the realm of paying a debt, as is mentioned in the Talmud Yerushalmi)
2. It is in the realm of “between man and G-d”. For since the father is a “partner in his formation” – the Kibud Av v’Eim is “honor of G-d”.
One could say that this itself is the reason that in the Ten Commandments – the Mitzvah of honoring one’s father and mother is in the first five commandments which are all matters between man and G-d.
For the primary innovation of the Mitzvah of Kibud Av v’Eim is only by Yisroel, and this is because the aspect of Kibud Av is because he is a “partner in his formation”. However, by the nations of the world there is just the first aspect of Kibud Av v’Eim (which is the intellectual Mitzvah (מצוה שבלית) between man and his fellow).
For regarding a Ben Noach, since the power of reproduction which is the power of G-d (Ein Sof) which is above nature, is an additional aspect of their being – therefore the part of the parents in the formation of the child and the part of G-d are like two different things.
Therefore the honor due to them, because they chose to be “messengers” which G-d formed this child – is not a part of the “honor of G-d” and it is just a matter of “between man and his fellow”.
Only by Yisroel, is it applicable to say that, the aspect of Kibud Av v’Eim, because they are partners in his formation, is primarily a matter that is “between man and G-d”, since the power of G-d (Ein Sof), who forms the child, exists in the father and mother themselves. Therefore when one honors them it is the “honor of G-d”.
mSichas Shabbat arshat Bereshit (second farbrengen) 5751
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