Dear Rabbi Brody,
My parents have been an abusive ever since I remember, not only emotionally, but physically as well. I grew up in a reign of terror. My problem is that I'm now married and a mother, and they continue, trying to remote control my life from across the ocean. Thank G-d they're far away, but everytime I talk to them, I get literally sick to my stomach. I'm trying so hard to work on my emuna, but I can't move forward. My husband is a rabbi who treats me with more love and kindness than any woman could hope for, and he says that I should cut off ties with them. I'm a slave to a guilty conscience, and I'm afraid that he isn't objective, even though he is a tzaddik. We agreed to hold by whatever you decide. Is this the thing to do before the High Holidays? Eagerly awaiting your answer, Keren from Israel (formerly USA)
First of all, parents have no right to abuse children in any way. A child does not belong to the parent; the exquisite soul of a child is entrusted into their safekeeping. Their job is to raise the child to live an upright life, and not to use the child as a punching bag or door mat to vent their anger and feed their ego, Heaven forbid. Don't envy the tyrannical parents who trod on their children; their end will be bitter unless they mend their ways, truly change, and seek their children's forgiveness, which tyrants rarely do...
The mitzva of honoring your parents does not require you to be sick - physically, emotionally or otherwise. Your duty in honoring parents is to pray for them. Jewish law does not require you to be a masochist and subject yourself to more abuse. But, try your best to forgive them in your heart and judge them fairly, namely, that they never learned how to raise children according to Torah. They act toward you probably in the same manner that their parents acted toward them. Your husband is correct; refrain from contact with them and don't let anyone emotionally blackmail you. Just as you don't expose yourself to contagious diseases, don't expose yourself to those who tear you down and bring you down, family or not. May Hashem bless you with a wonderful New Year 5773 and a fresh start in life. Blessings always, LB