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Home or Facility Placement?

Teshuvos V’hanhagos 446

If a parent is frail and sickly, must you maintain him in your home or may you place him in a nursing facility where your out-of-pocket cost would be much less?

The father’s needs are such that nursing- home placement would be acceptable. However, he  wishes  to  remain  living at home with you and his  wife. This will run up high-maintenance costs for nursing, feeding and other needs. What are the parameters of mitzvas kibbud av va’eim in this instance?

Where necessary, nursing-home placement would be acceptable. In this instance, the father wishes to remain home with his wife. Since your father requests to remain home, and by doing so it will give him nachas ruach, it is a mitzvah to satisfy this request.

Nursing home care, however, is beyond the capability of the  son. [To the extent that he is physically capable, caring for a parent is a son’s personal obligation. Contracting for a home aide, for example, for all intents and purposes is a convenience for the son, since he is obligated to assist his father at home.] He is not able to provide twenty-four-hour nursing care. It is therefore a parent’s obligation to pay for it. As a result, the additional expense incurred by keeping your father at home may be allocated from your tzedakah ma’aser money.

The halachah indicates  that  the son is responsible for caring for his  parent so long as it  does  not  place  the  son in poverty. [Interpreted to mean, for example, that he would have to use his vacation pay to stay home, but not to jeopardize the loss of a job.]

Bear in mind the following teaching of our Sages (Kiddushin 30b–31a.):There are three partners in the creation of man— HaKadosh Baruch Hu, his father, and his mother. In the instance that you honor and respect your parents, I [G-d] consider it a personal honor and extend My countenance on you. But if G-d forbid you cause your parents anguish, for example, you do not allow them to live with you, HaKadosh Baruch Hu removes His countenance from you, as if He were to remain and dwell with you, your behavior would be causing Him severe anguish as well!

— By HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita

An excerpt from the recently released book You Are Your Parents’ Keeper: Hashkafic and Halachik Insights into Elder Care and Kibbud Av Va’Eim   by Rabbi Reuven G. Becker.

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