web analytics
May 23, 2015 / 5 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Torah »

Caring For Our Parents: A Child’s Hardest Job

Torah-Anytime-logo

Our own behavior with our parents becomes a source of reference for our children. When my children see me shopping for or showing respect to their Bubby, they absorb that this is what one should do for one’s elderly parents, and I hope they will take care of me as well.

There are two mitzvos in the Torah for which we are rewarded with a long life. The first is that of Shiluch HaKen. The Torah commands that when one finds a mother bird sitting on her eggs, you must first send her away before you take the eggs. The second mitzvah is that of Kibud Av v’Em, honoring ones parents. The Midrash teaches that both extremes – the easiest commandment of sending away the mother bird and the most difficult commandment of respecting our parents – have the same reward, the lengthening of our days to remind us that we do not really know the value of our mitzvos.

It also shows that Chazal agree with our premise that properly respecting one’s parents is very difficult to do. It is easy for us to have empathy for the mother bird and want to spare her pain, however, taking care of our parents is the opposite extreme, it is something that does not come easily. The basis of this mitzvah is hakaras hatov, showing appreciation for all they have done for you, including bringing you into this world. People like to be independent; owing your life to two individuals puts a leash on that. Perhaps this explains why children try so hard to break away from their parents during adolescence; as they embark on a path towards independence and self-discovery, they find it difficult to take direction from and be so indebted to their parents, to whom they really owe so much.

As parents get older these dynamics continue to shift. Our egos do not want to believe that our parents can dictate our direction – even though we wouldn’t be here without them. Some parents use “Jewish guilt” to encourage us to help them, stoking the coals of rebellion and our ever-present search for independence. However, these parents may be correct in their goal of trying to get more help from their children. We can never finish paying our debt for all that they have done for us–and even more so, our debt to our Creator for all that He has done for us. This comparison explains why respecting one’s parents is on the same side of the luchos as those commandments that involve our relationship between us and Hashem.

When parents are old and infirm there are other issues that prevent us from giving them the proper attention. Our parents were guiding lights and we perceived them as being invincible; this makes it emotionally difficult to see them as needy, weak or incapacitated. When we were younger, they took care of all of our needs; with the passage of time we may need to be taking care of all of their needs.

Personally I find it emotionally challenging to be in this position. It is sometimes easier to help an elderly stranger than to help one’s elderly parent; the former does not involve the wrenching emotions of seeing one’s parents in a vulnerable state. This may be an additional explanation for why it is such a hard mitzvah, but we owe them gratitude and it is our responsibility to be there for them despite the difficulty involved.

Chazal tell us that at the time of redemption children will motivate their parents to grow spiritually closer to Hashem: “Ve’heishiv lev avos al banim v’lev banim al avosam.” In addition to taking care of their spiritual needs, children should begin by taking care of their physical and emotional needs. May we be zoche to the geulah when Hashem will heal all pains and return those who are no longer with us so that we will have another – better – chance to show our appreciation.

About the Author: Rabbi Gil Frieman is the pulpit Rabbi of Jewish Center Nachlat Zion, the home of Ohr Naava. He is certified as a shochet, sofer, and has given lectures in the United States, Canada, and throughout Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Frieman is currently the American Director of seminaries Darchei Binah, Afikei Torah, and Chochmas Lev in Eretz Yisroel, and teaches in Nefesh High School, Camp Tubby during the summers, and lectures weekly at Ohr Naava. In addition, Rabbi Frieman teaches all tracks in Ateres Naava Seminary. He is a highly anticipated speaker on TorahAnytime.com where he speaks live most Wednesday nights at 9:00pm EST.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Caring For Our Parents: A Child’s Hardest Job”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Tzipi Hotovely, new Deputy Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Hotovely: Tell the World ‘God Gave Israel to the Jews’
Latest Judaism Stories
Leff-052215

There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.

Staum-052215

Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.

Torah

This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if […]

God and the divine origin of His Torah are facts even though we do not fully comprehend them.

So if we basically live the same life, why should he get eternal reward and not me?”

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

In Parshas Pinchas the Torah introduces the Mussaf for Shavuos by describing it as Yom HaBikurim when we bring the new offering.

Rachel was thrown by the sight and began to caringly think whom this person might be.

The desert, with its unearthly silence & emptiness, is the condition in which the Word can be heard

The census focused on the individual, proving each is created as irreplaceable, unique images of God

Jewish survival in a dysfunctional world requires women assuming the role Hashem gave them at Sinai

The Honor Of Reading The Kesubah
‘Witnesses Sign Only After Reading…’
(Kesubos 109a)

Why does the Torah use two different words for “to count,” and what does each indicate?

From Bemidbar on and in Nevi’im, the nation is viewed primarily by its component parts, the tribes

More Articles from Rabbi Gil Frieman
Freiman-092013

While we wish the nations of the world success and prosperity, we realize that this feeling has not always been reciprocated.

Torah-Anytime-logo

I watch my children use blocks to build a large structure, observing the trepidation with which they add each block. As the structure becomes larger there is a greater risk of it collapsing, thus bringing an end to an hour of playful labor. I anticipate what will happen when one child adds a block to the top floor, compromising the integrity of the building and resulting in the collapse of the entire structure. The argument that ensues is predictable, as each child blames the other for “ruining” the fun. As an adult, I wonder about the need to attribute blame. Will assigning blame be instrumental in rebuilding the structure?

Kids today… that’s not the way we behaved when we were younger!! That is the mantra I hear repeated as parents bemoan the spoiled nature and lack of responsibility of today’s children. The problem is – it is not a fair comparison.

My family and I had recently enjoyed an outing to the bowling alley, courtesy of our friend, the owner. Children of all ages enjoy this weatherproof sport, and even preschoolers can easily score strike after strike as bumpers support the heavy ball as it creeps its way towards the pins at the end of the lane.

We all yearn to feel that we are part of something special. We all seek respect and acceptance for simply being who we are.

A congregant once told me that he was spending a large amount of time trying to explain Judaism to a coworker. His colleague thought that all Jewish holidays had the same theme, and he proudly summarized this theme at his family’s two-minute Seder: “They tried to kill us, Hashem saved us, we won, now let’s eat!!” He proudly bragged that this sentence was the family’s personal, abbreviated Haggadah.

Many trees upstate were damaged by the hurricane that swept through the East Coast at the end of last summer, and I was involved in finding the safest equipment to clean up the mess. I love trees and found the chore of cutting them down very difficult, especially knowing that the stately 60 year old trees would be impossible to replace. Even though we planted new trees, I don’t know whether I will be there to enjoy these new saplings when they are 60 years old.

I rarely take the extended warranty when purchasing new electronics. I figure that this warranty must not be worth much if they feel the need to pressure me into buying it. They must know what I have learned the hard way: there is no such thing as a real guarantee. In my more naive days, I purchased this “peace of mind,” as they call it, but never cashed in. Usually, by the time the item broke, I had forgotten about the extended warranty and purchased a replacement.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/caring-for-our-parents-a-childs-hardest-job/2012/07/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: