The fifth of the Ten Commandments read (Exodus 20:11), “כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ, וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ–לְמַעַן, יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ, עַל הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ – Honor your father and mother so that you should live a long and happy life”. We see throughout the Torah how valuable this instruction is. In fact, even those characters who are regarded as evil and bad still honored their parents. From Esau to Reuben, now matter how evil of a person or how great and amazing the person, they each honored their parents. But why is this so important? We have discussed before the importance of being in awe of God and realizing how awesome He is, this concept relates to our parents as well. Parents form a partnership with God to bring us into this world, together they actually create us and nurture us, so we have to be in awe of all 3 parties. My Rabbi always says, “Your parents are equal to God, you need to treat them like they are God!” why? Because they are partners with God in creation, they form and nurture us and take care of our needs when we are incapable. This applies even to a parent who only gave birth to us, or an adoptive parent who only raised us.
But how do we honor our parents? Our great sages have discussed this a lot, but one of the key things we can do to honor our parents is to show them that we want their love and care. To show them that we appreciate all they have done for us and that we, now, as self-sufficient creatures have internalized the messages that they taught us of nurturing and providing. One of the prime examples of this is making food. By cooking a meal and providing this food to them, we are showing them that we know what it means to be like them, and just as we have said before that it is crucial to emulate God, it is also crucial to emulate the objective values of a true parent, giving, nurturing and providing. This emulation is the best way to show them that we appreciate and get what they are doing.
By providing food, you are providing life, and honor and showing your parents that you get it.
Today’s Jewish mission is to prepare a meal for your parents. Something that will enjoy, but most of all something that will show them that you appreciate, honor and respect them and that you get how amazing it is that they partnered with God to create, nurture and provide for you.