וילך עשו וגו’ ויקח את מחלת וגו’ אחות נביות וגו’ פרש”י ולמדנו מכאן שנטמן בבית עבר י”ד שנים וכו’
Ques. I’m a yeshiva bochur and I’d like to go learn in Eretz Yisroel in a particular, well known, yeshiva, with the intent of hearing shiurim from a unique maggid shiur, who teaches there. This is a very strong point of contention with my partents. They want me to study in a yeshiva here in town.
Firstly, they want me near home, so I can assist them, with different things, as I often do. Secondly, my father and brothers learned in this in town yeshiva, and they’d like me to learn there, as well. My parents also claim that it’s not for certain I’ll do well in this yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel; many are not successful there, and no one can guarantee that I’ll do well there. They are also concerned about the security situation there. When we discuss this, I’m confronted with the argument that this disagreement should simply be decided by the mitzvah of Kibbud Av V’eim. Is that a reason I shouldn’t go to the yeshiva of my choice?
Torah and Talmudic Source
Ans. The Gemara in Mes. Megilla 16b deduces from the Pesukim in Parshas Toldos that Yakov Avinu went to study in the Yeshiva of Sheim v’Ever for 14 years before he travelled on to Charan. Nevertheless, Yakov Avinu was not punished for those years that he didn’t fulfill Kibbud Av V’eim in his father’s home. The Gemara understands from this that the Mitzvah of studying Torah, takes precedence of the Mitzvah of Kibbud Av V’eim.
[The Pischei Teshuva in YD 240:8 brings the opinion of the Pri Chadash, that although Talmud Torah takes precedence over Kibbud Av V’eim, that is only that one may leave his parents’ city and study somewhere else. If the son is in the same town, however, the son must interrupt his studies to service his parents and then return to the Yeshiva. Kibbud Av V’eim is not different than any other mitzvah that cannot be performed by someone else, that one must interrupt to fulfill the mitzvah and then return to one’s studies.]
Now, the Shulchan Aruch is YD 240:25 writes clearly that if a son wants to leave town to study in a yeshiva and is certain he will learn better there, the son may go despite his parents’ protests. Even if his parents’ concern is for his safety, the son is not obligated to listen to his parents in this case.
The Pischei Teshuva there brings a Chamudei Daniel that holds even if the son is not certain he will do better there, as long as there is such a possibility that supersedes Kibbud Av V’eim as well. [He writes there that the same logic applies to a son who wants to daven in one shul, he may do so, despite his parents’ protests, if he feels he’ll daven with more kavanah in that shul].
What about disobeying?
Now, this is in regards to the fact that by leaving town, you won’t be able to fulfill the mitzvah of Kibbud Av V’eim. Regarding, the fact that you are disobeying your parents’ wishes, that is subject to a big machlokes. Many Rishonim hold that there is in fact no chiyuv for one to abide by his parents’ wishes if it does not affect them personally.
The mitzvah is to honor one’s parents, by feeding them, clothing them, assisting them, honoring them verbally and with actions, such as standing up before them – the mitzvah is not necessarily to listen to everything they command of him, that has to do with the son exclusively, and not with them or their needs.
Other Rishonim maintain that there is a mitzvah in the aforementioned case as well. Therefore, according to the first opinion, the aspect of not listening to one’s parents’ wishes, in a situation where it’s something that doesn’t affect them, there is no mitzvah of Kibbud Av V’eim, regardless. The Gr”a is of this opinion as well, as he explains the Rema’s psak (ibid) that if a parent commands a son not to marry a certain woman, the son is not obliged to respect the parents’ wishes, as it’s not something that affects them personally.
Notwithstanding, you still need to come on to the fact that Talmud Torah takes precedence over Kibbud Av V’eim; you will not be able to service them personally while you are away.
Therefore, asssuming you have the capability of going without your parents’ support, l’halacha, if you earnestly believe that you will succeed more in your learning if you go to this yeshiva and this rebbe in Eretz Yisroel, you may go to learn in the Yeshiva of your choice, despite the fact that your parents would like you to remain near them, for the reasons mentioned above. [Of course, this is assuming the situation is a standard one; if there are other serious factors, i.e. health issues, etc. a rav must be consulted with all the relevant details, to reach a proper decision.]