Kavod makes the world turn. So much so that the Marahal finds it ironic that kavod would be listed among the things that pull a person out of this world. After all, it is specifically the pursuit of honor that drives so many decisions and relationships. Nevertheless, the pursuit of kavod unchecked indeed draws one away from Torah priorities and success both in this world and the next.
While seeking kavod may be complicated, giving kavod is a mitzvah. In parents, it teaches you to appreciate the greatness that contributed to your existence. In bestowing proper kavod towards the people deserving of our honor we also condition ourselves to the presence of the Ribbono Shel Olam. Demonstrating proper kavod is humbling and necessary for understanding our place in the world.
Indeed, kavod is a two-way street. We often think of it as something we give though we receive much more from showing kavod. I will never forget the awkwardness I felt when my ninth-grade rebbe walked into the shiur room the first day and paused until we stood up while explaining that we must also address him in the third person. We snickered and judged him for demanding our respect. In retrospect, he was teaching us how to show proper respect and communicating implicitly that we should always be of the people who know what is important in life and honor those things.
Kavod isn’t always as it seems. I will never forget the time I was tasked with informing my great uncle, a humble saintly chassid, that he will be receiving a bracha at a wedding. He declined. I insisted, remarking that it was a direct request of the chosson and kallah that he be honored with a bracha. He simply responded, “to honor a person is to respect his will.” He had his reasons for declining the honor and I learned a valuable lesson about what it means to properly show kavod.