Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yisro, Shemos 20:122, Honoring Parents, and the Ten Commandments . כיבוד אב ואם ועשרת הדברות

(Please note that I use the word 'nexting' or 'nexted'.  I strongly dislike the word 'juxtaposition', and nexted is the only alternative I like.  I also dislike the word 'neologism,' almost as ugly a word as 'blog.')

It has often been said that the Aseres HaDibros seem to be evenly divided between those that deal with our relationship to Hashem and those that focus on our relationship with our fellow man.  When Moshe Rabbeinu came down with these commandments written on the Luchos, five on each Tablet, the laws were balanced between his two hands, one hand presenting religious doctrine and the other hand human ethics.  The one Dibbur that doesn’t seem to fit is the fifth, Kibbud Av Ve’eim, which ends the first Luach, but seems to belong with the second group, the one that deals with inter-human relationships.  

Indeed, the Ramban here says that there are only four in the "relationship with Hashem" group, and Kibbud begins the six that involve our relationship with our fellow man.  He adds that kibbud is listed first in the second group because it relates to the first of the first group, Anochi.  Honor your father as you honor Me, because I am your heavenly Father, and he is your earthly father.    True, he later says that the luchos were equally divided between man/G-d and man/man, because we honor our parents because they are Hashem's partners, and just as we honor Hashem, we ought to honor His partners, so it is also man/G-d.  The connection seems tenuous, dachuk, in light of his earlier statement that Kibbud is man/man.  In any case, although the Ramban’s explanation does connect Kibbud to Anochi, it would be nice to understand why Kibbud is so closely related to the others that are on the same Luach, those that are בין אדם למקום, between man and Hashem.   

How many times did Hashem teach us the mitzvah of Kibbud Av Ve’eim?  The Kli Yakar in Parshas Kedoshim says that the mitzvah is stated three times: Yisro (Shemos 20:12), Va’eschanan (Devarim 5:16), and Kedoshim (Vayikra 19:3).  What do all the occurrences have in common?  The Kli Yakar says that they all are stated contiguously with Shemiras Shabbos.  Three times is no coincidence.  And I later realized that this occurs a fourth time as well!  The Gemara in Sanhedrin 56b talks about the mitzvos we were given in Mara: Shabbos, Kibbud Av Ve’eim, and Dinim.  There you have it again!  True, Rashi in Beshalach (Shemos 15:25) says the mitzvos of Mara were Shabbos, Dinim, and Para Adumah, but he later explains that when he said Dinim he meant Kibbud Av.  Rashi just added Para on the basis of a Medrash.  In any case, Kibbud Av is mentioned four times.  Every single time, it is contiguous with the Mitzva of Shabbos.  This nexting is undeniably intentional and clearly indicates a linkage.  

In an answer reminiscent of the Ramban, the Kli Yakar explains that every man is created by three partners, a father, a mother, and Hashem.  Shabbos is our way of honoring Hashem for creating us individually, besides the general creation of the world as a whole; similarly, Kibbud is our way of honoring our parents.   

This Kli Yakar would also explain what Kibbud is doing on the first luach.  This deep connection between Kibbud and Shabbos results in every mention of Kibbud being immediately followed by Shabbos, and because of that connection they had to be on the same luach.

But does that mean that the idea that the first luach instructs us about בין אדם למקום, man to G-d, and the second about בין אדם לחבירו, man to man, is not correct? 

A certain very Chashuveh person made an superlative observation which adds a new dimension to the Kli Yakar and ties everything together nicely.  (This person actually said it before hearing the Kli Yakar.)  She said the reason nobody understands why Kibbud is in the first group is because of a true, but imperfectly phrased assumption.  Everyone asks why kibud av is in the first five dibros, when the first group involves Man's duties to Hashem.  But it's a mistake to categorize the first group as bein adam la’makom.  The first five Dibros are bein adam le'yotzro, between man and his creator.

In short: Why is כיבוד אב ואם on the first luach, which otherwise focuses on בין אדם למקום, and not on the second, which deals with בין אדם לחבירו?  Because the first five are not בין אדם למקום, they are בין אדם ליוצרו.
After reading this, you might think the answer is obvious.  It's interesting, though, that it wasn't obvious at all until you read it.  This is another example of
ויפקח א־לקים את עיניה. — א״ר בנימין חכל בחזקת סומין עד שהקב״ה מאיר את עיניהם, שנאמר: ויפקח א־לקים את עיניה.    (ב״ר נ״ג)  ג

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Here's a brief summary of existing discussions about the issue of whether Kibbud Av is called  בין אדם לחבירו or בין אדם למקום.  I already mentioned the Ramban in this parsha that groups it with בין אדם לחבירו. 
Minchas Chinuch discusses this and presents two possiblities: that our obligation to others is to refrain from hurting them and to help them under the rules of Tzedaka.  The greater obligations towards our parents are בין אדם למקום.  Or, that the fact that it involves our relationship with another person means that it is automatically בין אדם לחבירו.  He says that one difference would be in a case where a person failed in his obligation of Kibbud Av.  Would he have to ask mechila from the parent, or would teshuva suffice.  Remember, it's the Minchas Chinuch, so everything he says opens a whole avenue of possibilities.
The Maharam Shick (YD 346) says that since the Gemara in Kiddushin 31b says that the obligation remains after a parents' death, it must be  בין אדם למקום.  Again, there are numerous reasons to disagree with this proof.  Even assuming the validity of the logic of his proof, many Achronim discuss whether kibbud after death is real kibbud (Noda Be'Yehuda II Even Ezer 45, R' Akiva Eiger Teshuvos 68, Lechem Mishna 6 Mamrim 11.)
Reb Boruch Ber in his Birkas Shmuel Yevamos 3 says it's a machlokes between Tosfos in the end of Eilu Metzios who holds it's בין אדם לחבירו and Tosfos Yeshanim in Kesuvos 40a who presents both possibilities. 

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