The first revision of https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/71584/when-honoring-an-elder-results-in-violation-of-mitzvos, from a new user, described in detail a situation where one grandparent is mistreating another and their child (the OP's parent) is allowing it. The question asked how to balance honoring elders and intervening. It was put on hold because it was too personalized. People have been trying to help the OP in comments. It's a sad situation, and I hope the OP is able to get local help.

After it was closed the question was edited by others to be a more-generic, depersonalized question about balancing those conflicting needs. If the question were newly-arrived in that state it would probably stay open -- though we might ask for a little more detail. But it was a major edit that the OP has not yet commented on, and it feels like the edit, while thoughtful and well-intentioned, removed too much of the motivation.

What should we do with this question?

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    For what is worth I had the same reaction as you and disagreed with the edit because I felt indeed it was making the question totally generic. As such the answers are unlikely to help the OP and it would have been much better to guide the OP to come up with his own question while depersonalizing it.
    – mbloch
    May 25, 2016 at 15:04
  • I thought of that too mbloch, but she is in such distress. The mod thought it was too much to ask of her to even delete the question. I think it would be a lovely gesture for the forum to effectively extract the full essence of her delema and the elements that most drive it home or make it clear that were missing in my edit, and propose an edit to her that is less personal but that both serves her and also broadens to make it more applicable to others. The delema behind the question is poignant, and relevant especially for those in the diaspora, where leadership may often be secular.
    – user2411
    May 25, 2016 at 17:17
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    I personally rejected the amputations of this question but despite that, this was passed. I think that this question was very complex. not only from a pure halachic point of view, broad spectrum question is not easy to deal. The best in this case is when someone post an answer. but at the beginning of the answer explain (re-definition) what is the issue he choose to treat.
    – kouty
    May 26, 2016 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my question rather than rejecting it out of hand due to to the personal details. I appreciate Sarah's edit-- it boiled the question down, and I did feel it was a lovely gesture. I've had more time to think of this from a moral perspective, and there seem to be several inquiries contained within the first one, for which I have received some helpful answers. Beyond the authority of an elder vs. halakha, I think there's a sanctity of life and the dignity of a spiritual being tied up in 'the system'. So, to break it down further:

  • How is "hospice" viewed in the context of Judaism? Without getting to personal, I have encountered a lot of people saying "its about comfort" while, in the same breath stating that by not providing activities, stimulation, etc, the person will lapse into a more vegetative state and/or get depressed, stop eating, and die. I'm having a lot of trouble with this because it seems like seeing someone bleeding to death of a cut and just stepping over them (or holding their hand, if you want to buy the comfort spiel) rather than trying to stem the flow. I'm very confused as to how any of that is "comforting" or "providing a meaningful end of life experience" (direct quote from this place).
  • How can I help my loved one retain their dignity and spiritual sense of self in the face of a system like this? I'm sure hospice workers are have good intentions, but this new place is very secular and they seem offended by the fact my loved one has different needs. I did find a very nice pamphlet at the old place called "A Jewish Response to Dementia" by Rabbi Cary Kozberg, in which he emphasized that its important to allow that person to participate in whatever way they are able. (My grandfather and I sang some songs today and he remembered the words, even if he couldn't remember what city or state we're in.)
  • How/Should one maintain a relationship with an elder family member if that person is abusive and/or bent on violating mitzvos?
  • How should one handle "unconscious" violations of the self-harm taboo? There are instances (actions during sleep, during a seizure, or when an autistic child "stims", for example) in which a person would not take those actions in their right mind, and stops as soon as they are aware of what they are doing.
  • And this last one may get too personal, but I worry about my culpability in this situation, even though I do not have the POA and the system seems to be against me.

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider the spirit behind my question, and not just the plethora of personal details.

  • Thank you for this response. What would you like to see happen with the current question? Do you want to keep it as the general question, or edit it to put back some of the details while still depersonalizing it? By that I mean: we can't give personal advice, but you can certainly ask about the halacha where preserving quality of life conflicts with honoring grandparents. It's an interesting question; if your grandfather's life were directly in danger there'd be no question, but this is about his well-being. May 27, 2016 at 14:09
  • @MonicaCellio- Is it possible to leave the initial question up as a broad-spectrum inquiry about possible conflicting directives between elders and halacha, and post another question dealing with the issue of 'end-of-life' treatment and its relation to respect for both life and elders? I feel like the commenters on the initial question were able to give very concrete answers: that G-d's law overrides all other directives. I think the interplay between just preserving life (and not intervening in a positive way, as hospice fails to do) and quality of life/respect for elders is more nuanced.
    – atomickiwi
    May 28, 2016 at 1:55
  • The second question you propose sounds good. I'm not sure what you're saying about the current question, but please go ahead and edit it if you don't want to leave it in its current state. There's an "edit" link under the post. Thanks. May 29, 2016 at 2:53

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