The Torah actually dedicates three separate verses to remind and reinforce a child’s obligation to one’s parents. In these verses the Torah employs two different verbs to describe our obligation “Yirah” (fear) and “Kavod” (honor). “Yirah” was interpreted by the rabbis to indicate those actions we were forbidden to take against our parents, while “kavod” was interpreted to indicate the positive actions we should take to fulfill this commandment. Many different classical sources attempt to enumerate and discuss a child’s obligations to parents, both positive and negative, in great detail.
Further, considering the fact that two of these verses appear as the fifth of the “Ten Commandments”, which were given to the ancient Israelites on
In addition, elsewhere in Rabbinic literature, on several occasions, the rabbis inquire as to what the limit of financial support due to a parent might be. While multiple opinions are shared, in essence the opinion that the child must support his parents with his own funds is upheld again and again. To exactly what extent must one stretch financially, no hard and fast rule can fit every situation. However, clearly there is a serious obligation that the child owes his parents in these situations that does demand that the child make reasonable sacrifices. In situations in which the parents have acted in a pattern of wickedness or attempted to force the child to violate the commandments, things are not as clear. For example, Yosef Karo who authored the major Jewish legal code, the Shulkhan Arukh, wrote “Even if his father is a wicked sinner, the son honors and reveres him.” However, Rabbi Moshe Issreles, another great Jewish legal figure who wrote the gloss that appears integrated into Karo’s own text, wrote “There are those who say that one is not obligated to honor his wicked father unless he did teshuvah (sought repentance).” In other words, according to Issreles, if your parents were wicked, both in general or to the child, this could release the child from the obligation to support the parent, unless the parent sincerely sought forgiveness.