Orthodox Judaism/Wife beater
Dear Rabbi Shishler,
My father is bipolar. My parents, both fully observant Jews in Israel, have always had a rocky marriage and my father has left home twice before, but never worse (although he did once hit her many years ago). On Shabbos Pesach he hit her in the face and cursed her out for no good reason (no 'Onnes' of anger per Shulchan Aruch CM 421:13). Two days later he hit her again in the back and would have done worse, with no justification. He then left the house and has since twice disconnected the phone purely for kicks, and more. He has shown no remorse whatsoever. I have asked him to appease her three times and I sent others as well to no avail. Because of the above I wish to have no further contact with him. These are the facts.
My first question is whether these actions classify him as not "Amisecha". Hitting is not merely an "Aveirah"; it would seem to be a KNOWN "Aveirah" (unlike, say, Lashon Hara), since Jews do not hit their wives.
Also, hitting is severe enough to make one invalid as witness (CM 420:1), invalid to join a prayer quorum (ibid.), and one is not fined for calling "Wicked" he who merely commits battery (ibid.). As for hitting one's wife specifically, the Rama EH 154:4 uses the word "accustomed"; twice is probably not enough for excommunication.
Secondly, the Rama (YD 240:18) holds there is no Kibbud Av for a Rasha. The Aruch Hashulchan notes that most Poskim and the Gemara seem to agree. The Shach says the Rama does not permit disgracing even a wicked father.
As for frequency, the Pischei Teshuva and others say this must be a 'regular' occurrence (although I don't see how that fits with the source text of a father liable to capital punishment for doing wrong ONCE or the first Tosafos in Kiddushin 32b).
1. Has my father left "Amisecha" until he asks forgiveness?
2. Is the Halacha like the Rama as regards awe and respect of one who is not "Amisecha"?
3. Even if the answer to both of the above questions is no, might there still be "Le'afrushi me'issura" to deny him awe and respect as a tactic so he asks for forgiveness, and stops trying to hurt my mother in the future (like the allowance of Lashon Hara about a 'Baal Machlokes', and also see CM 421:13)?
In my personal opinion this question ought to be marked private, but I will leave the decision up to you.
Thank you for all the help!
Hi Moshe Chaim
I am very sorry to hear about your family situation and your father's condition, which is clearly very difficult for all involved.
Considering how delicate an issue this is and that I do not know any of the members of your family personally, I feel that this question should be referred to a Rav in your community, as well as to a therapist.
I certainly hope that Hashem assists you and your family with the appropriate guidance, wisdom, skills and healing that each of you needs to tackle this serious issue.