Monday, August 2, 2010

HONORING ONE’S PARENTS: The difference between ‘respect’ and ‘honor’.

Today is the 22nd of Av, 5770

In The Torah there are two Mitzvot which regulate children/parents relationship. The first one is kabbed et abikha ve-et imekhaHonor your father and your mother”.
This important Mitzva is the fifth of the Ten Commandments. There is a second Mitzva (vaikra –Leviticus- 19, 3) ish immo veabiv tira’u A man should fear/respect his mother and his father”. These two Mitzvot are different from each other and actually complement each other.
Honoring’ includes all what we must do for our parents: watch them and when necessary feed them and help them to get dress, take them out, drive them, etc. In other words: take good care of them.
Respect’, on the other side, is about what we are not allowed to do to our parents: we can’t call our parents by their name, we can’t sit in their seat, we can’t contradict them, etc.
In a practical sense, the Mitzvah of ‘respect’ applies mainly when we are young and we depend on our parents. A Jewish child observes a strict system of discipline and behavior which trains him to accept authority.
The second Mitzva, honoring, applies mainly when our parents are older, and (or when) they depend on us. We have a direct obligation to take good care of them. This Mitzva emphasizes the duty of gratitude and payback for those who fed us, dressed us, and took care of us when we were children.