Honoring Parents

We must teach our children how to honor parents properly.

Commentary on Parashat Chayei Sara, Genesis 23:1 - 25:18

In all likelihood, as children we were told to honor our parents. It’s one of those things that parents like, and by now we know why. As parents, we expect our children to listen to and do everything we want them to. In truth, though, honoring parents should not entail giving up one’s own life and dreams.

In this week’s Torah portion Abraham’s trusted servant Eliezer approached Rebecca’s father, asking for permission to bring her back as a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac. Laban, Rebecca’s brother, in utter disrespect of his father, jumped up and responded before his father could.

The Ten Commandments says to “Honor your Parents.” It does not command “love” your parents. The Torah is very free with the word love in love the stranger, love your neighbor, and love G-d; however, it had the brilliance to recognize possible difficulties some may have with parents. At the very least, the Torah states that parents are always to be honored. Whether we agree or disagree, we must do so with deference and respect. We must look out for their needs with the same sense of responsibility they had when they cared for us. We must teach our children how to honor parents properly. Encourage them to express their opinions in a respectful way, whether or not they agree with you. And of course, model the same behavior in your own interactions with your parents. They will learn the most from that.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about how honoring parents is a form of gratitude.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· Why honor your parents?

· Can you name some opportunities to show honor to your parents?

· When we are angry with our parents, how should we behave towards them?

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.

Discover More

How Jacob Healed His Family

Israel’s third patriarch was born into great dysfunction, but found ways to create the first cohesive family in the Bible.

The Ten Commandments

The division and structure has been open to interpretation throughout history.

Must One Honor an Abusive Parent?

While fully aware of the corrosive effect of abuse by parents, rabbinic literature still encourages expressions of respect and honor for such parents.

Modern Israel at a Glance

An overview of the Jewish state and its many accomplishments and challenges.

Black-Jewish Relations in America

Relations between African Americans and Jews have evolved through periods of indifference, partnership and estrangement.

The Book of Eicha: Faith in a Whirlwind

At the core of Lamentations is an expression of faith in the human capacity to survive in a broken world.