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It might be suggested that this is the message of the statement in Pirkei Avot, “Who is honored? He who honors others” (4:1). Not only is someone who is respectful to others worthy of such treatment himself, as the Mishnah states openly, but further, it is only possible for a person to receive honor if he first accords it to others, deeming them appropriate sources of expressions of esteem. As Rabbeinu Yonah comments, “All honor that one shows to people, he is showing to himself.”

Perhaps this may contribute to understanding G-d’s mechilah of His honor to that of His creations. The very concept of honor is one that is built upon mechilah, and is fed by its utilization; showing honor to another ultimately strengthens the latter’s ability to appropriately reciprocate. Thus, all respect shown to human beings reflects on G-d in two ways: first, in that He is their Creator, and second, in that it allows them the authority to respect Him in a meaningful manner. Through every gesture of respect we display to another, we create untold dividends in kavod Shamayim.


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Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman is a rosh yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University. He also serves as the executive editor of RIETS Press. Rabbi Feldman has authored several books in English and Hebrew, including most recently “Letter and Spirit” (YU Press/Maggid Books). He is the rav of Ohr Saadya in Teaneck, N.J.