Honor your Father and Mother. What for?
“Be respectful, apologize to your mother. That’s not a way to treat your Mother”
“You should be ashamed of yourself, It’s your father, show him some respect…… go to your room”
Did you hear these words come out of your parents or your friend’s parents?
Generally, if you are the child, you’d leave the room upset, probably making weird faces or even sticking your tongue out (of course without them seeing you) or even crying and yes, at those moments hating them too.
On the other side, if you are the parent, you wonder how did you child grow up to be so selfish and rude, blaming it on this generation- Oy!
I remember the first time when my daughter being 4 yrs. told us that “you don’t even know about me” Maybe we didn’t, but if we did, would it change anything?
One of the Ten Commandments, precisely the fifth one always intrigued my curiosity. Honor your Father and your Mother
Honor your Mother and Father, make sense, these are people who were waiting patiently to welcome you to the world, your home and family. The people who poured their love, many sleepless nights, working hard to provide you all your needs and most importantly raising you with values and morals.
It’s not for nothing you hear the word “no” often, hopefully only for a while. These people, now called your parents, all you have to do is honor them. Is it that hard?
The commandment also states: Honor your Father and Mother so YOU live longer.
I’m finding it puzzling that the reason we are commanded to honor our parents isn’t for their sake, rather the benefits are for the child. I would think that by fulfilling this Mitzvah, their lives will be longer.
The first word of the commandment in Hebrew is the word Kabed כבד means to honor. When I look at the root of the word (every word in Hebrew has a three-letter root) these three letters with a different …………. will reveal another two words that look identical and sound the same.
The first word is Kaved - כ ב ד meaning heavy. Most likely you’ll need to honor your parents by helping and attending to them during the later years of their lives, their ”Golden Years” or in a time of need.
Regardless of how one feels and how close to them one might be, taking, care, attending to your loved ones must be “heavy” at times.
In this era, most people are busy juggling their daily duties and responsibilities, and when it’s your parents need you, it’s undoubtedly one of the top priorities. At least I hope so.
This commandment has a very heavy aspect to it, you can almost mirror the years your parents took care of you- maybe we can think of it as mirroring how they honored you by exhibiting attending to all your needs at all times, from love, food, home, education and more. It is now your task to do the same for them. And if we truly want to admit, it can be a burden… sometimes a very big burden.
Could that be the real and only reason why the second part of the commandment states, that it will lengthen your life on Earth?
Or maybe just the act of giving, giving back, hopefully from your heart, that will add to your longevity.
Personally, when I help with my time or giving a donation, I feel great. I enjoy the act of giving; the act of enriching other people's lives gives me enormous satisfaction including attending to my parent’s needs and wishes.
I lost both my parents a few years ago and I can attest what a hard journey it was. Every time I managed to help, alleviate their physical pain and discomfort I felt it’s worth anything in the world. And yes, it was hard.
I feel it an appropriate place to thank my parents for all the love, devotion, and definitely sacrifices they made throughout our lives.
I started making Tallitot over 25 yrs. ago. When the children were born I devoted my life to raising them, just like my parents did ( that’s what we do - learn from their actions). It is the inspiration and my need to keep their memory alive in me and in my life that I started designing again. There is no doubt in my mind that this collection I created is my expression of the love my Dad had for the Torah and the rituals that come with it. Thank you, Mom and Dad!
I believe that just the act of giving and knowing you made a difference as small as it may be, will be good for your mood. When you are needed you have less time to attend to the small things that might occupy your thoughts that truthfully in the big scheme of life aren’t as important as you might have thought.
You have a higher purpose than yourself when you know you are needed to make the difference. The way you’ll be there for your parents, will bring them and you Nachas.
Research has proven that one of the most important things to a person’s life, more than love is to be needed. Having a purpose in life.
Is that what they mean by saying, it will lengthen the days of your life?
Fringes of Life by Sharona Lomberg
The second word which is spelled and pronounced the same as Kaved means the Liver. The liver is the heaviest organ in our body. It is quite essential for our existence. Without the liver, one cannot stay alive.
The liver’s function is to detox the body from anything that we eat or insert into our body. On a different level, the liver also acts as a detox and cleanser for our mental state including anger, bitterness, depression, resentment, etc.
Is the point of it all is to help us perform the Mitzvah that might bring these kinds of emotions, and while fulfilling it helps us to find the right balance in our lives?
So the equation is, healthy liver = long life
Reading the Mitzvah again, I also wonder at the fact that people are motivated to fulfill the Mitzvah it because there a reward, a prize you get for it- long life.
Are we that selfish that it’s not automatically understood that it’s the right thing to do? The least you can do? And isn’t it one of your ways to say Thank you to your parents?
Maybe that’s why we are teaching our children since childhood to honor and respect your parents- so it will become an integral part of their lives, so it will be an obvious part of who we are and the act fulfilling the Mitzvah would be an act that goes without saying.
May you be blessed with a long life!