Frequently Asked Questions
Aren’t you afraid of distancing your son?
I will compare my situation with the following commentary: Akavya said to his son, "It is your deeds that will bring you close to the sages or your deeds that will distance you." Meaning, if you act uprightly, the Sages will draw you near and honor you without your father’s intercession. And if you do not, then I would want the Sages to distance you [since that is what is ultimately best]. ArtScroll Mishnah Eduyos p. 253.
If the father wants that the Sages should distance themselves from his son then surely he, who is also a sage, would do likewise. This is what separates a father from a friend, a father wants what is best for his child even if it means sacrificing the relationship; however, a friend’s interest is tied to the relationship.
Where did Akavya get this lesson from, to view his son as a possible pariah?
The commentary on Avos (1:7), “Do not associate with a wicked person." Means, one should have nothing to do with a wicked person, lest he learn from his wicked ways (Rambam Comm.) Even if one does not participate in the wicked person’s actions, the mere exposure to him cannot help but have a detrimental effect. Furthermore, one who associates with a wicked person is held partially responsible for the evildoer’s actions. For when the evildoer sees that he suffers no social stigmatization as a result of his wickedness, he is encouraged to continue in his evil ways. Thus, the sages taught: whoever associates with the wicked, even if he does not act as they do, is punished as they are. ArtScroll Mishnah Avos (a) page 48.