Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even Teacher Appreciation — all of these are opportunities to honor those who make a difference in our lives.
Kavod — honor: This is a word we use yet it is hard to understand. In the Torah, we are told: Honor your father and mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that God is giving you. Judaism is a religion based on doing first, so how do we honor our father and mother. Then we need to look beyond and see what it means to give honor to others and to ourselves.
At each age and stage, honor “looks” different and we need to teach our children what to “do” in order to show respect to others.
Studying the texts from Torah gives us a way to learn from the past and have great conversations with our families.
Look at these texts and talk together:
- “Who is honored? The one who honors others.” Pirke Avot
- “Before honor goes humility.” Proverbs 15:33
- “Honor thy father and thy mother, even as thou honorest God; for all three have been partners in thy creation.” Zohar
- “The love of parents is for their children; the love of the children is for their children.” Proverb, quoted by Huna, Talmud
We have studied what it means to be “tzelem Elohim — created in God’s Image.” Believing this important concept means that we treat every person with kavod — with honor and dignity. It is interesting that the Torah tells us to “honor” our parents but does not command us to “love” our parents.
Can you honor without love? Can you command love? It has been said that first we learn to honor our parents, and then we learn to honor our teachers. What are the ways that you can show that you honor your mother and father? Ask your parents and grandparents how they follow this important commandment.
In different times, we showed honor differently. Some people call people they respect “Mr.” or “Ms.” and also stand up when an older person enters a room. Should we still do this? What are other ways to show that you honor someone?
Keep thinking about this important middah.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center in Dallas.