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Respecting one's Parents
We are all familiar with the commandment to, “honor your father and your mother….” This is one of the few commandments in the Bible, G-d promises reward in this world. “… In order that your days are lengthened...”

To what degree are we obligated to respect our parents?

Our sages point out, that a person should always appreciate what has been done for him, and not be ungrateful. He should therefore take to heart all the energy and effort his parents have exhausted in raising and nurturing him and show them appreciation.  This will also habituate the individual to focus and pay attention to all the good that G-d bestows upon him.

The commandment to respect one's parents is so great, that in G-ds eyes it is considered equal to the respect and honor required to show G-d Himself.

Our sages instruct us, "Even if one's parents takes his pouch filled with golden coins and throws it into the sea, in front of his eyes, he should not shame them, nor shout, nor show anger in their presence. Rather, he should accept the decree of  G-d ('Honor your father and mother') in silence."

We learn to what extent one must go to respect one's parents, from Dama the son of Nesina, a commoner from Ashkelon. Once, while sitting in the company of Roman noblemen, his mentally disturbed mother approached him, tore off the gold-embroidered silk cloak he was wearing, hit him on the head, spat in his face, and took a shoe and hit him. Despite all this, he continued to sit in silence. Moreover, when the shoe fell from her hand, he lifted it up and handed it back to her.

On another occasion, there were those who wanted to purchase some precious stones from this same Dama the son of Nesina for the breast plate, the high priest would wear in the Holy Temple. An offer was made to pay a huge sum of money for these very hard to get precious stones. Dama,  turned down the offer because, the key to the box which held the precious stones was under the pillow of his sleeping father, and the box with the precious stones was under his  father’s legs.

The Talmud says, G-d rewarded this Dama with a very rare animal in his herd. From the sale of this animal, Dama made more money than what appeared to be the year earlier a missed opportunity.

The great Rabbi Tarfon, treated his mother who was a very short woman, with such great respect, that whenever she wanted to go to sleep, he would bend down, allowing her to climb onto his back and into bed. Likewise, whenever she got out of bed, she would step down onto him and then onto the floor.

Rabbi Tarfon once came to the house of study to speak from personal example on the subject of, honoring ones parents. Rabbi Tarfon’s colleagues told him. "You have not yet reached even half of the honor required to show ones parents. Has your mother ever thrown your wallet into the sea in your presence and you did not shame her?"

One Sabbath, while Rabbi Tarfon's mother was walking, her shoe straps tore. Rabbi Tarfon placed his hands on the ground so his mother could walk upon them, step by step, until she reached her bed.

Whenever Rabbi  Yosef heard the footsteps of his mother, he would say, "I shall stand, before the approaching footsteps of the presence of G-d." (Who commanded we respect and show honor to ones parents.)

No matter how ones parents behave, a person never has the right to be disrespectful to his parents.
 

 


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