Rabbi Arye D. Gordon
During his recent visit to Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Merkaz Hatorah Community Kollel was honored by a visit from Dayan Aharon Dovid Dunner. He delivered a shiur to the kollel on Monday evening, November 21, 2016.
Dayan Dunner, a world-renowned inspirational speaker, is constantly sought after by Torah communities around the world as a guest lecturer. His vast knowledge of Torah is evident in the detailed halachic points made in his shiurim. The dayan manages to pepper his shiurim with fascinating and sometimes humorous stories from experiences of our gedolei torah. Rav Dunner is a senior dayan in the London Kedassia Beth Din and is the rav of Bais Medrash, Tottenham Adass in London.
In his visit to the kollel, Harav Dunner was accompanied by his nephew, Rabbi Pini Dunner, rabbi of the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills Synagogue.
Harav Boruch Gradon, the Rosh Kollel, introduced the dayan and announced that the shiur was le’iluy nishmas Miriam bas Reb Uri, mother of Rabbi Pini Dunner and the dayan’s sister-in-law, whose yahrtzeit was that day.
The evening’s shiur centered on the topic of kibud av v’eim. While many of us think that we know the halachos of honoring our parents, it became evident quite quickly that our knowledge and understanding of the intricacies of the mitzvah were much less than we realized.
Rav Dunner took us down the road through the various gemaras, rishonim, and achronim who elucidated this complex topic.
The gemara in Kiddushin, daf 45a relates an incident where two men were sitting together, and one offered the other a cup of wine, saying that with this cup of wine the other man’s daughter should marry his son. In this case, the gemara rejects the possibility of this being accepted as a marriage. Even though we acknowledge that the father can arrange his daughter’s choice in marriage, we do not make the same suggestion with regard to a son accepting his father’s choice.
The Maharshal explains that the father simply has no power over his son with regard to issues of marriage, so his actions in this case have no meaning.
The rabbanan then asked, “Perhaps the son made his father a shali’ach (a messenger on his behalf)!” If in fact the father was a messenger, it is as if the son himself made the kiddushin and it should be a good marriage.
Answers Ravina, “He (the son) would not be so brazen to do so (make his father his messenger).”
Dayan Dunner went on to explain that even for a d’var mitzvah, no son would impose on his father to make him (the father) his messenger. Based on this, asked Rav Dunner, “Would one be permitted to ask his father, for example, to pass the salt during dinner?” It appears not.
Another well known gemara is the story of Dama ben Nesinah.
The gemara in Kiddushin 31:a asks, “How far does the mitzvah of honoring parents extend?”
Answers Rav Ula: We can learn from Dama ben Nesinah. Once, the Rabbis wanted to do business with him. He would have profited 600,000 gold dinarim, however, he could not make the deal without waking his father, so he lost the deal.
Asked Dayan Dunner, “Let us say, you came home late one night and you had to ring the bell to wake your parents to let you in, can you? The answer,” responded the dayan, “is no!” According to Jewish law you cannot wake your father up.
Dayan Dunner went through a number of additional examples to show that the mitzvah of kibud av v’eim is more than meets the eye!