There are many ways to use the word respect or honor. The Hebrew word kavod comes from the Hebrew word meaning, “heavy.” This tells us that respect is a pretty heavy responsibility. Respect, or kavod, begins with each person. If we feel proud of ourselves, what we achieve and how we behave, it is self-respect. Imagine what a wonderful place the world would be if we all showed respect to one another. The rabbis teach us that every person should have two pockets. In one pocket, put a piece of paper that says, “I am but dust and ashes.” In the other pocket, the paper should say, “For my sake alone was the world created.” When we feel too proud, we remind ourselves that we are but dust, and when we are feeling low, we remind ourselves that God created the world for us. When we recognize and acknowledge the value and worth of every human being, when we honor and respect the uniqueness of each person, then we will work with God on tikkun olam.
“Who is honored and respected? One who honors and respects others.” (Pirke Avot)
“Let your neighbor’s honor be as dear to you as your own.” (Pirke Avot)
Family Talk Time
- Ask your children what respect means to them. If they cannot give a definition, share an example.
- Talk about people you respect. Who is a role model for you? What are the characteristics of the people you respect?
- How is following rules a form of respect? What are the rules we follow to show respect?
- In Leviticus, the Torah teaches us: You shall rise before the aged. What does this mean? Why is it so important to show respect to older people?
What does it mean to “love your neighbor as yourself?”
Is this hard or easy to do? Why?
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.