As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.
One of the laws of holiness, of the laws that set us apart from the world is, “Every one of you shall revere your mother and your father” (Leviticus 19:3). Reverence towards our parents sets us aside from the world so we should be seen honoring and revering our parents. This was the first commandment given with a conditional promise, that your days might be long in the land that Adonai your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12). There are two commandments with a longevity conditional clause, and they are both related to parenthood (Deuteronomy 22:7–8). Yes, to honor and reverence our parents is an integral law of the Kingdom of God; it will also be the rule of law in the world to come under the iron rule of Messiah when he reigns on earth.
It is easy to direct such a commandment towards our Western generation of teenagers. The society we have created around them seems to teach them very little respect for their parents. Could it be though that we need to direct this command towards ourselves? How much honor and reverence do we have for our parents? To honor our parents in the terms of the Torah means to support them. Exodus 20:12 basically says, (my suggested interpretation) "you shall support your parents in their old age, not send them to a government institution to be taken care of by strangers whose sole interest is to get paid for the job." If caring for them and helping to feed and assist them cramps our style, we must remember that they allowed their style to be cramped in order to care for us in the same manner that they now need us. We must also remember that one day we shall be in a similar situation.
Revering parents speaks of respect. It is understandable that some of us may have had abusive parents who seem unworthy of respect or even of the title but these are different situations that are outside of this commandment. Whereas our parents may not be respectable, our children should not hear negative feelings towards them out of our mouths. If they do, these same words will most certainly come back to us in their mouths because we are not perfect parents either. Forgiveness is not an option; it’s a commandment from the Master who himself followed Hashem’s commands to forgive by forgiving the abuse of his persecutors (Luke 19:18; Mark 11:25–26; Luke 23:24). Sad to say, in too many homes children hear their parents speak negatively, disparagingly, disrespectfully, or even mockingly about their older parents.
We often think of teaching as speaking, and of learning as listening, and as a result many of us try to teach others by telling them how to live. This was not the way of the Master. Like the rabbis of the day, the Master taught by exemplifying the Torah, by living it and encouraging his disciples to follow his example. Paul was cradled in the same pedagogy and taught it (1 Corinthians 11:1). Teaching is by doing, and learning is by emulating.
The way we react towards our parents is closely tied to the way we react to God. If we know how to trust our wiser parents, we will know how to trust the wiser leadership of the Master.
P. Gabriel Lumbroso
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