This Dvar Torah is dedicated to my mother Pearl Shaps – Pesel Bas Chaim Yehuda, who passed away last week at the age of 95. She died in her own home, the same one we grew up in, insisting that she did not want to move and that she did not want an aide. It is fitting that this week’s Parsha discusses the Mitzvah of honouring your parents – the fifth of the Ten Commandments. My mother was an exemplary role model for how to honour one’s parents. In their later years, my grandparents moved to Israel and when they were ill or were in need of help, my mother would travel there and spend weeks and even on a couple of occasions, months, taking care of them.
The Mitzvah of honouring parents is one of only two mitzvos in the Torah where the Torah indicates that the reward is long life. The Kli Yakar comments that it is not necessarily a (miraculous) reward, but rather a logical consequence of one’s actions. When one honours their parents, their children take note, and learn from it. They then honour you and take care of you as you get older, making life easier and extending your lifespan. Parents are the most important role models for their children and when we model positive behaviours, our children learn to do the same.
The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups. They were engraved on the two tablets (Luchot). The Mitzvah of honouring parents is the fifth one on the first tablet, which lists the Mitzvot/obligations between us and Hashem. Honouring parents seems to be a Mitzvah between people, between you and your parents. Why is it there? One answer is that it teaches us to honour and respect those who give us life and if we follow the chain back, Hashem is the one who created all life. Others explain that our parents are partners with Hashem in creation and by honouring our parents we learn to honour Hashem as well. Our parents gave us our physical bodies and Hashem gave us our souls.
My mother merited to know 24 grandchildren and approximately 70 great grandchildren. They benefited from her example and that of my father of blessed memory. She leaves a legacy of how to honour parents and how to live a full Jewish life filled with Mitzvos. She was extremely proud of her family and especially the fact that every one of them has followed in her footsteps, living a Torah life.
May her memory be a blessing.