*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Supporting parents-Mishel Av-Must one use one’s own money to feed, cloth, house, support, and serve one’s parents?
This Halacha is one of the most significant subjects and of most major importance within the laws of Kibbud Av Vaeim and is discussed extensively in the Talmud and Poskim. The subject can be broken down to two parts:
- Does the Torah require one to use his own money to fulfill the Mitzvah of Kibbud Av Vaeim? Such as, is part of the Mitzvah of feeding and clothing one’s parents to also provide them the food and clothing with one’s own money? If one’s parents asks him to buy them dinner, must he use his own money to buy it for them? [The approach which says that he is obligated is known in the Talmud as Mishel Ben and means that the son must provide the means for the service in addition to providing the service itself.] Or do we say that the Mitzvah of feeding and clothing one’s parents is to take their own food and clothing and feed them and garb them with it, however, there is no Mitzvah or obligation upon the child for him to use his own money to buy them the food and clothing. Hence, if one’s parents ask him to buy them dinner, he may ask them for the money and if they refuse to give it to him and tell him to use his own money then he is not required to buy them dinner. [This approach is known in the Talmud as Mishel Av and means that the father must provide the means for the service while the son provides the service itself using that which is provided to him by his parent.] Practically, while this matter is debated in the Talmud, the general ruling follows the opinion who holds Mishel Av. This subject we discussed in A. However, this is contingent on the ability of the father to provide the means for his own support, which leads to the next subject.
- If a parent cannot afford to support himself, is there an obligation upon the child to support the parent as part of his general obligation of Kibbud Av Vaeim? Or do we say that no such obligation exists, and the parent is to be supported by the local charity funds like anyone else who is poor? This subject will be discussed in B.
- Parents can afford:
The food and drink that one is obligated to feed one’s parents is to come from one’s parent’s money, if they can [currently] afford it. [This applies even if the parents request from the child for him to pay for it himself. This applies even if the child can afford it. Thus, in any case that the parents can afford it, the child is not obligated to purchase things for his parents using his own money, or to provide them with objects that he owns. Likewise, all matters relating to fearing one’s parent are not required to come out of one’s own pocket, if the parents can afford it. Nonetheless, if the son nevertheless chooses to support his parents despite his lack of obligation to do so, then he certainly fulfills the Mitzvah of honoring his parents.]
If one’s father or mother instructed the child to make a payment on their behalf, such as to make an order for them, or to donate money to an individual or to a cause, must they listen?
No, as one is not required to use his own money for the sake of honoring his parents. [However, if one’s parents are in need of money for their personal needs, then if one can afford it, he is obligated to help out his parents due to a charity obligation, as explained next.]
If the parents give monetary support to the son:
Some Poskim rule that the above exemption of listening to one’s parents regarding matters that will cause him monetary loss only apply when the son is responsible for earning his own money. If, however, the son received his money from his parents, then the parents have the right to dictate to the son what the money should be used for, and he must listen to their instructions even if it will cause him a monetary loss.
 See Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 391-408
 Michaber Y.D. 240:5; Admur C.M. Mechira Halacha 7 “Mitzvas Kibbud Av Eino Ela Bemamon Shel Av”; Rambam Mamrim 6:3; Kiddushin 32a, as ruled Rav Nasan Bar Oshiyah and as instructed Rabanon to Rebbe Yirmiyah; Rav Huna Bar Chiya in Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:7; Sheilasos Rav Achaia Parshas Yisro Sheila’s 56; Tosafus Kiddushin ibid in name of Sheilasos ibid and Riy and Rabbeinu Chanel; Rif Kiddushin 13b; Rosh Kiddushin 1:50; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:18-23; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 303
Other Talmudic opinions: Rav Yehuda is of the opinion that the son must pay. The Gemara then goes on to bring a Braisa in support of the first opinion based on a Hekesh between the verse of Kabed Es Hashem Mihonecha and Kabed Es Avicha, and against the opinion that the father must pay. However, the Gemara concludes with answering the contradiction according to the second opinion saying that it refers to Bittul Melacha. [Kiddushin ibid; Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:7; See Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 391-392] According to this opinion, some Poskim rule that the son must pay for the items that he provides his father even if his father is very wealthy. [Sheilasos 56; Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 296] However, other Poskim rule that even according to this opinion the son is not required to provide the items for his father if his father could afford it, and the ramification between the two opinions regarding if providing the items is due to an obligation of honoring one’s parents or due to charity obligations. [Chazon Ish Y.D. 149:2; Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 297] Even according to this opinion, the son is only obligated to provide the father with the basics and not anything extra and extravagant. [Poskim in Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 298 and 368]
 See Shut Maharil 107 that if they can currently afford to support themselves, then the children are not obligated to support them even if the parents claim that they need the money for savings.
 Admur C.M. Mechira Halacha 7
 Rama 240:8; Shach 240:11 and Bach 240 that this applies according to all; Hamakneh Kiddushin 31b; See Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Morah Av Vaeim Vol. 42 p. 613 footnote 493-495
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that all matters that a child must fulfill due to the command of fearing his parents are required to come from his own pocket even if his parents can afford to pay. [See Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Morah Av Vaeim Vol. 42 p. 613 footnote 493-494]
 Sefer Chassidim 582; Kesef Mishneh Mamrim 6:7; Shut Rav Akiva Eiger Kama 68; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnotes 308-309; However, see Michaber C.M. 107:1 who implies otherwise, and Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:32
 Admur C.M. Mechira Halacha 7; Mayim Rabim Y.D. 49; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 406 footnote 480-481
 Maharsham 2:224-16; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 3:275; See Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid footnote 594