Having Respect for Your Elders, Kohanim and Rabbonim

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    How far does it (halachicly) go? Must a 42 year old stand up (or give up his seat if there are none more available) for a 44 year old? A 15 year old for a 25 year old? A 70 year old for a 95 year old?

    Are you required to stand up and give kavod to your brother who is a year older than you. 10 years older than you?

    We know you must respect (even a younger) Kohen. Does that mean a 55 year old Yisroeli or Levi must give kavod to a 16 year old Kohen? What about a father-in-law to his Kohen son-in-law?

    And if an 18 year old Rov walks in, must all the middle age and elderly stand up and give him kavod? What determines if someone is considered a Rov?


    Or for any Talmid Chacham (even not a Rov), in fact. Like a 70 year old must give kovod to an 18 year old Talmid Chachom.

    Feif Un

    shmoel: I believe you have to respect your oldest brother, not all older brothers.

    As for people older than you, it says mipnei seivah takum – from an elderly person. That doesn’t mean older than you, it just means someone who is old. I’m not sure what the exact age is.

    As for a kohen, I believe it applies for all ages. I remember reading years ago in the book on R’ Mendel Kaplan (who was a kohen), that his Rosh Yeshiva hosted the young R’ Mendel for many Shabbos meals, but would never ask him to pass anything at the table, because he was a kohen.


    One should have respect for everyone created by HaShem. Being created in HaShem’s image seems to be a good enough endorsement as being worthy of respect.


    Feif Un, does that apply to older sisters? 🙂

    akuperma, ani maskimah me’ah achuz!


    Feif Un: That’s not respect. That’s a separate issue. The SH”A (maybe Rama) at the end of Siman 128 says that it’s Assur to use a Kohen for anything. A Kohen can be Mochel, and presumably they are, which is why most people are not Makpid on asking Kohanim for favors. Still, the Ikkar Halachah is that way. There is a separate Halachah that a Kohen should be served first at meals (Litol Manah Yafeh Rishon).

    Writersoul: It should, though the Drasha doesn’t mention it explicitly. (Actually, the Drasha is only an Asmachta so it could be Chazal only instituted it for an older brother and not sister, though I’m not sure why one would be Mechalek.)


    One should have kovod habriyos, clearly. One should show further kovod to the elderly, perhaps more so than one’s elders who might be only a year older.

    The challenge could be if an elder, a kohen, or a rov (r’l) has done something that makes it hard to demonstrate respect to them.

    I had this situation with someone who falls into one of the categories listed. I had a difficult challenge demonstrating kovod given certain events I knew of firsthand. I chose to avoid being around this individual rather than demonstrate a lack of kovod to him in any interaction. I certainly didn’t feel it appropriate to confront him, and I couldn’t just forget what I knew (not a matter of L’H, and not a matter of criminal nature, r’l, but of events witnessed by me and others). So I felt the best way was to stay away.

    I don’t know if it was the proper thing to do, but it felt like the only choice at the time (25 years ago until his death about 10 years ago).

    I never ask this on these forums, but I’d actually like to hear opinions on if I did the right thing.



    If a kohen should be served first at meals, does that mean that a host should serve the children, who are also kohanim, before her adult guests (who are not kohanim)? Wouldn’t that be outright disrespectful??

    If one cannot assume that a kohen is mochel being asked to contribute or help, is a wife (not a bas kohen) not permitted to ask of her husband anything contribution wise???





    There’s a machlokes haposkim whether you have to honor all your older brothers or just the oldest. It is best to be stringent and honor all your older brothers. It should be noted that Gilyon Maharsha and Bais Lechem Yehuda bring from other sources that this obligation is not for any brother that is older than you, only the oldest of the brothers. It seems clear that the obligation includes even a brother who is not the oldest in the house and is preceded by sisters. This halacha does not apply to an older sister according to the poskim, but one should treat her with respect as they should with all people older than themselve.

    Are you obligated to stand up when your older brother walks into the room? The Shevet HaKehosi discusses this issue in 1:262. He says that the Bais Meir points out that when it comes to a big brother you are only obligated to give him kavod, but there is no chiyuv of Morah, to fear him. The Sefer Chareidim holds that standing up for someone falls under the category of kavod, and so it seems also from the Shulchan Aruch. On the other hand the Shaar Ephraim and the Makneh both hold that standing up is a matter of morah and not kavod, so you might not be obligated. However, the Brisker Rov in Chidushei HaGriz (Hilchos Talmud Torah) holds that you are chayav in both kavod and morah of your big brother.

    Since many poskim hold that the obligation of honoring your big brother is Min HaTorah, the Shevet HaKehosi says you should be machmir and stand up for him since it is a Safek D’Oiraisa.

    The obligation to honor an older brother applies even if the younger brother is a Talmid Chacham and greater in Torah than the older brother. (Rama Yoreh Deah Siman 240:22)

    One is also obligated to honor their uncles and aunts (as long as their fathed is alive.)


    Rav Moshe Shternbuch: Can A Boy Get Engaged Before His Older Brother?

    The Shach (YD 244:13) says that a younger brother must wait for his older brother before getting engaged. It seems that since this is because of kavod and the older brother can be “Mochel”. Therefore the younger brother can proceed after getting permission. Rav Moshe Shternbuch (1:739) has two issues with this logic. First, we must question if his mechila is just lip service or if he really means it deep in his heart. Second, it is not only an issue of kavod, it can do real damage to the older brother because people may think there is something wrong with him.

    Therefore says Rav Shternbuch we must look at each case to see if the reason for the delayed engagement. If the older brother is extremely picky then there is no embarrassment to him at all. If however he is not particularly fussy but he hasn’t been presented with suitable suggestions, then the younger brother should wait a full year before getting engaged and not rely on the mechila of his older brother.

    He does make one exception. If the younger brother wants to get married before the age of 20 years old as is the Halacha in the gemara then he needn’t wait because everyone will understand the reason why he got engaged before his older brother and it won’t cause the older brother’s reputation any harm.

    YW Moderator-42

    This mitzvah is diyoraisa and we say safek diyoraisa lichumra so here in the CR where we don’t know which posters are older, talmidei chachamim, or kohanim, we should be machmir and treat everyone with respect (except those who we know are dolts or retards)


    Mommamia: I think the Poskim discuss that. I don’t recall what they say. And there’s no disrespect in serving the child first if the guests know the Halachah (assuming that this applies to a Kattan; not positive about that).

    I once did hear a very prominent Rosh Yeshivah say that it’s B’feirush in the fifth Chelek of Shulchan Aruch that even a Kohen has to help his wife out around the house.


    see the yaaros dvash for a very interesting perspective on this question he says the chiyuv is even on an older brother becasue of hakras hatov as the older child could have caused the mother to be unable to have more kids during childbirth interestingly if i recall correctly he also only says kavod is obligatory.

    YW Band

    Look at Klei Yakar on first pasuk of P’Emor. Look at Ksav Sofer on that pasuk too. Then you will see the real maalos of Kohanim!


    Must you stand up for your older brother every time he enters the room or just every time he comes into the home?

    And, according to the shittos that say the oldest brother is entitled to kavod even if he has older sisters, do his older sisters have to give him kavod too?


    A b’chor gets two portions of a yerusha while the other brothers get one portion. The sisters don’t get any.


    according to the yaaros dvash which i mentioned previously the inyan would apply to an older sister too.


    Patri: What does that have to do with this discussion?

    Daniel Rosen

    “If a kohen should be served first at meals, does that mean that a host should serve the children, who are also kohanim, before her adult guests (who are not kohanim)? Wouldn’t that be outright disrespectful??”

    Yes, indeed I would consider that extremely disrespectful and there are many poskim (such as the Magen Avraham) that say Kohanim do not have the same yichus they used to and are no longer entitled to these kibudim. I have asked Rab Forst shlita and he said that Kohanim today should not take priority in the meal or tzedaka. go to http://www.oraltorah.org to hear a great shiur from YU Rabbi Michael Taubes on this.

    Be careful not to impose your chumras on other people!

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