Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Kibbud Av V'Aim for Bnei Noach

Many of the commentaries on Parshas Toldos point out that Esau excelled at the mitzvah of Kibud Av V'Eim. This brings to mind a question I once heard: Are Bnei Noach even commanded in the mitvah of Kibud Av V'eim??

As an aside, Chaim B. in this post asks whether these kind of questions make any sense at all. I contend that they do as long as they are put in the proper perspective.

For example, in this case, we are not asking on the Torah Shebichsav why Esau observed the mitzvah of Kibud Av. Rather, we are asking on the Torah Shebaal Peh. What we are asking is, according to the sugyos on Sanhedrin that deal with the chiyuvim of bnei noach, how do those sugyos interpret the story in Parshas Toldos.

The same is true with all the question regarding the Avos keeping the Torah. The question is: according to those opinions that hold that the avos kept the torah, how do they explain various occurences in the Parshiyos. By answering these types of questions we are broadening our understanding of whatever particular halachos we are dealing with.

Getting back to the issue of Bnei Noach, I believe I remember hearing in the name of Rav Elchonon that "middos" are a chiyuv that precedes the torah, and, therefore, that chiyuv applies even to Bnei Noach. In order to be chayav in the 7 mitzvos bnei noach there must be a chiyuv of proper middos first.

With this answer we have not really gained insight into the story of Yitzchak and Esau, what we have gained is a deeper understanding of the chiyuvim of bnei noach. The same can probably said for many of the questions and answers that are of this nature.