Parshas Yisro – Honor Your Parents

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.

Explanation:

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.

Question:

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?

Answer:

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.

Question:

If so, why does Nachmanides praise the parents as partners with G-d in childbirth?

Answer:

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.

Conclusion:

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)

 

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