By Shalom Olensky
This week in the Torah:
The Ten Commandments. The fifth of which, is “Honor your father and mother….”
Nachmanides (Ramban) comments:
Honoring one’s parents is found amongst the first five Commandments which are all things that pertain to man in relation to G-d. This is because one’s parents are partners with G-d in forming their child. Hence, honoring one’s parents is also, and most importantly, honoring G-d.
Helping form the child is more G-dly than raising the child and supporting him/her. This is because supporting a child is in the realm of nature, whereas childbirth, the capacity for a finite being to reproduce generation after generation ad infinitum, is a revelation of the Infinite One. Hence, honoring one’s parents because of their part in childbirth is one and the same as honoring, the Infinite; G-d.
It is a major principle of faith, that nothing and no one, except for G-d Almighty Himself, truly has control over anything. How, then, do we show thanks to our parents for something they were actually powerless in avoiding?
We are grateful to our parents, not for their power to reproduce, but for their choice to do so. For people have been granted free choice.
If so, why does Nachmanides praise the parents as partners with G-d in childbirth?
Because of a Jew’s soul, which is a part of the Infinite One, the Jew becomes one with the Infinite One’s power of reproduction. Since the parent is one with this Divine power by virtue of his/her soul, they can truly be called partners with G-d in childbirth.
Honoring one’s parents is not only logical as a display of gratitude for child-rearing and such, rather it is a glorification of G-d Almighty.
(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 36, Yisro)