Showing respect to Teachers, Torah scholars, elderly and community leaders:

Showing respect to Teachers, Torah scholars, elderly and community leaders:

A. Who is one obligated to respect:

One is required to respect ones Rebbe/Teacher[1], Torah Scholars [such as Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshivas], and elderly people [even prior to reaching 70 years of age[2]]. Respect is also to be shown towards the community leaders.[3] One is obligated to respect any person that is greater than him in Torah even if he is not an exceptionally greater in Torah than the common folk.[4]

Teacher respecting student:[5] A sage is to show slight respect for his student.


B. Not to shame:[6]

It is a grave sin to shame Torah scholars or to hate them, and whoever shames the Sages does not have a portion in the world to come and is included in the verse of “And the word of Hashem he has shamed.” [The community leaders are also forbidden to be shamed similar to a Torah scholar.[7]]


C. Sitting at the head of the table and being honored to speak:[8]

One is to respect Sages and elders also in terms of their seating arrangements during events and festivities, having them sit at the head of the table and having them delegated to speak first for the crowd.[9] Respect is to be shown towards the elders even if they have not reached 70 years of age.[10]

D. Having them perform a task on one’s behalf:[11]

It is forbidden to make use of one who studies Halachos [i.e., Mishnayos[12]], and certainly of one who learns Talmud which is the Gemara [even if he is not a Rav, and certainly if he is as Rav/Ravad/Rosh Yeshiva]. [If one has no choice and must make use of the person[13] then] one is to precede making use of one who learns Halachos prior to making use of one who learns Talmud. [Some Poskim[14] rule this prohibition applies even if the person forgives his honor and allows himself to be used, as he does not have the right to forgive the honor of the Torah.[15] However a Rav may forgive his honor.[16] Likewise, some[17] rule that if the person offers on his own to perform the task on one’s behalf then one may do so. It is certainly permitted for him to do the task in exchange for payment.[18]]



One is required to respect Torah Scholars such as Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshivas, elderly people [even prior to reaching 70 years of age], and community leaders. This respect is expressed in sitting them at the head of the table during an event and delegating them an opportunity to speak for the public at the event.


What tasks are prohibited to be performed by the person?[19]

The prohibition only applies towards laborious tasks, such as carrying heavy items on one’s shoulders and the like. However, tasks that are viewed as mere simple favors are not included within this prohibition.



[1] See Chapter 242:1-36 for a list of laws of respect that a student must show his Torah teacher. This however only refers to a teacher that is one’s Rabo Hamuvhak, from whom one has learned majority of his Torah. However, a teacher who is not one’s Rabo Hamuvhak there is a lesser level of respect, as explained in 242:30.

[2] Taz 244:10

[3] See Shach Choshen Mishpat 420; Gilyon Maharsha 243:6; 244:18; Aruch Hashulchan 243:6

[4] Yad Avraham 244

[5] Rama 244:8; Shach 242:39

[6] Michaber 243:6; Tur in name of Rambam; Sanhedrin 99b that an Apikores does not have a portion in the world to come

[7] Gilyon Maharsha 243:6; Aruch Hashulchan 243:6

[8] Michaber 244:18

[9] Who receives precedence if there is a Sage and elder present? If the Sage is an exceptional Sage, then by a Torah event the Sage is to be seated at the head and is to be the first delegated speaker. In this regard a young exceptional Sage is given precedence over an exceptionally old regular Sage. By a festive event, or a wedding, an elder is to be given precedence if he is exceptionally elderly and is slightly wise. In all cases that the Sage is exceptionally wise while the elder is not exceptionally old, one precedes the Sage. Likewise, in all cases that the elder is exceptionally old and the Sage is not exceptionally wise, one precedes the elder [if he is also a slight Sage]. [Michaber 244:18; Shach 244:14; Taz 244:10] If however, he is not a slight Sage then the Sage receives precedence. [Shach 244:14; Taz 244:10] If neither are exceptional in either wisdom or age then one always precedes the elder even if the Sage is wiser. [Michaber ibid; Taz ibid based on Rashbam regarding Bnos Tzlofchad] This applies even if the elder has not reached 70 years of age. [Taz ibid] Some Poskim however rule that in a case that neither are exceptional, one is to follow wisdom regarding a Torah event, and age regarding a festive event. [Shach ibid in name of Ran]     

[10] Taz ibid

[11] Rama 243:6; Rabbeinu Yerucham Nesiv 2; Megillah 28b

The severity: The Yalkut Shimoni Lech Lecha 74 states that the entire cause for the Jewish people’s slavery in Egypt was a punishment to Avraham for him making use of Torah scholars, as he made his students do work for him.

[12] Aruch Hashulchan 243:6

[13] Aruch Hashulchan ibid

[14] Shiyurei Bracha 243; Birkeiy Yosef 246:21; See Sefer Bris Vetorah p. 160 for an analysis on this subject

[15] The reason: As only a Rav may forgive his honor, being that the Torah is considered his, however one who simply learns Halacha, the Torah is not considered his for him to be able to forgive his honor. [Shiyurei Bracha ibid]

[16] Shiyurei Bracha ibid

[17] Shiyurei Bracha ibid; Rosh David p. 110

[18] Shiyurei Bracha ibid; Aruch Hashulchan ibid

[19] Ben Ish Chaiy Ki Seitzei 2:20 in name of Binyan Tziyon 83

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