Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Kavod means honor, but it means so much more. Related to the word kaved, or heavy, it refers to things that are weighty, that are deserving of our respect.

Hashem’s kavod appears multiple times throughout Tanach, referring to Hashem’s presence. “Uchvod Hashem Malei Es HaMishkan (Shemos 40:35) means that Hashem’s presence fills the Mishkan. At the same time, we are commanded to show Hashem kavod, or honor. We are also expected to act with kavod towards our parents, Rabbanim and teachers, and all of humanity. (kavod habriyos is not pretend.)


The word kevudah, related to kavod, means baggage, which of course is often heavy. In fact, the Malbim explains the famous pasuk in Tehillim 45:14 of Kol Kevudah Bas Melech Penimah as meaning that all of the expensive things of the (possibly Jewish, non-American) princess are inside her bag.

Nowadays, we increasingly replace kavod with kibbud, in two senses. In modern Hebrew, kibbud means refreshments: honoring the Shabbos these days often means a kiddush more than actual respect for the day. Kibbud is also a public honor given at a simcha (think: mechubed mit di ershte bruche…), which can run the risk of becoming more about placating expectations rather than actual expressions of respect.

May we all be zoche to have kavod in all the appropriate ways (and to avoid all kavod-COVID jokes, as my co-columnists hopefully did).


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Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier is a Research Fellow at the Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion. A Yale PhD in Judaic Studies, he recently completed YU’s Kollel Elyon.