We are striving to love our fellow Jews by improving the way we interact with others
Last week’s Stretch of the Week: This week, call someone about an idea for a potential match to assist a single person in your community.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
(Kibbud Av V’Aim)
Judaism teaches us how to relate to parents in two separate ways: “Honor your father and your mother, that you may live a long life on the land that G-d gave you” and “Each person should revere his mother and his father”. Everyone should behave toward his parents with great respect as they brought us into this world and do so much for us. By fostering this sense of appreciation, we will achieve a deeper understanding of our debt of gratitude toward our Creator for all that He does for us, every moment of our lives.
At times, the aspect of gratitude is not so evident but we are required to honor our parents even if they did not teach us Torah or provide for us in any way. According to our Sages, when we honor our parents, the Divine Presence dwells among us,
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)
For as long as I can remember, my relationship with parents has been difficult. I know they did the best they could, but the combination of my stubborn tendencies and my parents’ liberal views often resulted in major friction throughout my childhood.
As a teenager, I recall witnessing a conversation between two cousins. Everyone was aware that my aunt had some personality issues which many found annoying. However, my older cousin Hannah, was somehow able to honor and respect her mother regardless. Once when Hannah was speaking with her sister, I overheard her talking about a recent incident when their mother behaved in a manner that some might consider to be embarrassing.
“Mommy got really upset with the store clerk today and gave him a piece of her mind. She wasn’t out of control but it was loud enough that many customers turned around to see what was going on. In the end, she got what she wanted!” she recalled, laughing.
Hannah obviously knew her mother was challenged in the area of aggressiveness, yet was able to see beyond it and appreciate her for who she was. I felt compelled to ask her how she was able to brush off the incident. She explained that she had grown used to her mother’s personality and had worked on herself enough to even be able to laugh about it rather than get upset. I felt more challenged in my relationship with my parents. Although I do have a deep appreciation for my mother and father, I often feel frustrated with their comments and opinions and find myself blaming them for various problems I encounter. However, as I grow and raise my own children I realize that parents generally do the best they can. Through developing a relationship with our parents, we enable ourselves more fully understand everything G-d does for us.
Although my relationship with my parents is not perfect, I now realize that much of the tension I have experienced was of my own making. Ultimately how I view, treat, and speak to my parents influences my relationship with G-d and helps me to improve myself. By focusing on my parents’ positive qualities and verbalizing my appreciation to them (even when I don’t feel like it), I realize this enables me to strengthen my ability to express appreciation for everything G-d has given me. Gratitude allows me to develop my own character instead of expecting others to act according to my design.
Discussion Question Options:
Do parents owe their children anything?
What causes people to stop blaming parents and childhood trauma for their problems and start viewing their challenges as coming from G-d?
How can we cultivate a sense of gratitude in the youth of today?
Stretch of the Week:
Call, write, or express through prayer, the gratitude you have towards your parents (or other parental figures) for anything they have done for you during your lifetime.