Choosing a spouse-Can a parent instruct who one’s son or daughter can marry?

Choosing a spouse-Can a parent instruct who one’s son or daughter can marry?[1]

If a father protests to his son against the woman who his son desires to marry, then his son is not obligated to obey his father’s requests in this matter [and he may marry her if he wishes].[2] [Likewise, a parent cannot instruct their child to marry a certain woman who they desire to have as a daughter in law.[3] The same applies regarding a daughter, that if a father protests to his daughter against the man who his daughter desires to marry, then his daughter is not obligated to obey her father’s requests in this matter.[4] This applies even if the parent has a valid reason for opposing the Shidduch.[5] This applies even if the protest is due to that the parents want the child to live next to them, and entering such a marriage would require them to live far away.[6] The above, however, only applies if the child desires to marry a person who is proper for them, and for their family stature, and nonetheless the parents protest the match due to some other side reason. However, if the parents’ misgivings are due to real concerns of the quality of the match and that it may be detrimental to the child, then some Poskim[7] rule that the child is obligated to listen to his parents. This especially applies if such a marriage will cause the father shame.[8] Likewise, if the parent suspect that the potential spouse may cause grievances and pain to the parents, then some Poskim[9] rule that they are to be listened to. Likewise, if the parent is against the Shidduch due to Halachic reasons which the child is not concerned about, such as a restriction of Rav Yehuda Hachasid, then some Poskim[10] rule that they are to be listened to. Practically, in all cases that the parents voice concern and objection to a prospective match for their child, the child is to consider the matter and consult with a Rav or other suitable individual for direction.[11]]

Parent asks child to divorce spouse:[12]

If a parent requests of their son to divorce his wife he is not obligated to listen to them.[13] If however, the wife is evil and causes pain to her husband and his parents, then it is a mitzvah to listen to their request and divorce her. Likewise, if the wife desires a divorce and the parents asked the son to give her a divorce in or to avoid a fight, then some rule that it is a mitzvah to listen to them.[14] 


[1]  Rama 240:25; Maharik Shoresh 166; See Igros Admur Hazakein 81 [Shut Admur Hazakein 75]; Igros Kodesh 9:110; See Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:64; 66; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 407 footnote 485-498; p. 437-438 footnotes 880-890

[2] The reason: The reason for this is because one is only obligated to honor his father and mother using the money of his parents. Accordingly, the child is also not obligated to do something against his will which will cause him pain, simply because of the request of his parents, if the parents do not receive any direct benefit from the request. [1st reason in Maharik Shoresh 166] Alternatively, the reason is because such an instruction is considered to contradict Torah, as one is only to marry a woman whom he desires. [2nd reason in Maharik Shoresh 166; 1st reason in Darkei Moshe 240:10; Levush 240; Derisha 240:4; Maharsham Y.D. 95; Avnei Tzedek Y.D. 99; Aruch Hashulchan 240:45] Alternatively, since the parent does not receive any direct benefit from this request, he therefore does not contain the power to instruct his child regarding it, as it is not included within the Mitzvah of honoring or fearing ones parent, as only in relation to matters which give direct benefit to a parent may the parent instruct his child to perform. [3rd reason in Maharik Shoresh 166; 2nd reason in Darkei Moshe 240:10] See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid

[3] Sefer Chassidim 562; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 437-438 footnotes 880-890

[4] Noda Beyehuda Tinyana 45; Avnei Tzedek Y.D. 99; Tzitz Eliezer 13:78; Koveitz Teshuvos [Elyashiv] 3:143; 5:152; Shevet Halevi 4:124

[5] Igros Kodesh 9:110

[6] See Michaber Y.D. 239:8, based on Teshuvos Harashba Meyuchasos Leramban 272, “If one swore to live by his wife’s family, then even though that by doing so he will nullify honoring his father and mother, it is not considered that he is swearing to nullify a Mitzvah of the Torah”; See Maharam Shick Y.D. 208; Avnei Tzedek Y.D. 99; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid P. 445 footnote 975-980

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that if entering such a marriage will require the child to move out of town away from his parents then one is obligated to listen to their parents if the parents desire the child to remain living nearby and have no one else to help support and assist them. [Sefer Chassidim 564]

[7] Agudas Eizov Y.D. 15:19; Hagahos on Beis Hillel 240 based on Shut Maharsham; Sdei Chemed Mareches Chaf Kelal 147; Shevet Halevi 2:111-17; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 495 and 498; However, see Kaneh Bosem 2:91 that from the ruling in the case of the Maharik ibid it is implied that one is not required to listen to the parents even in such a case; See also Igros Kodesh 9:110

[8] Meishiv Davar 2:50; Tzitz Eliezer 15:34

[9] Sefer Chassidim 561; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 493-494

[10] Michtam Ledavid 33; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 496

[11] See Shevet Halevi ibid; Koveitz Mivakshei Torah 21

[12] See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 408 footnote 499-502

[13] Sefer Chassidim 561

[14] Tashbeitz 1:1

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