There are many ways to use the word respect or honor.
The Hebrew word kavod comes from the Hebrew word meaning “heavy,” which gives us an important message that respect is a pretty heavy responsibility.
Respect, 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 taught 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 — to repair the world.
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)
Talking about respect to children or even other adults is important and sometimes hard to define. Try using these questions for conversation:
Ask your children what respect means to them. If they cannot give a definition, share an example.
Talk about people you respect. Who is (or has been) 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?
The Torah teaches: You shall rise before the aged. (Leviticus) What does this mean? Why is it so important to show respect to older people?
Shabbat Discussion: What does it mean to “love your neighbor as yourself?”
Is this hard or easy to do? Why?
A Story for Shabbat: from Brainteasers From Jewish Folklore by Rosalind Chaney Kaye
The Most Precious Thing
A rich man fell in love and got married. The couple lived happily, but they had no children. Believing that a marriage without children is not really a marriage, the husband followed an old custom and asked his wife for a divorce.
“It’s no more my fault than yours that we haven’t been blessed with children,” she protested.
“I know that,” he sighed. “And we have had a wonderful life together. Even so, you must leave and return to your parents’ home. As my parting gift, you may take with you the most precious thing you can find in the house.”
Their home was filled with beautiful dishes, silverware, candlesticks, samovars, blankets, and rugs, as well as fine clothing and jewelry. What did the wife choose to take with her?
She took her husband himself. He was so touched by her love that they stayed married. In less than a year they were blessed with a child.