What Does the Commandment about Parents Really Entail?
This is really helpful. Parental authority must have its limits when it causes harm. It is heartbreaking that these texts about honoring one's parents have led to such abuse. Thanks.
Nicely explained. Thank you. I see this contrast as a condition of listen to your parents but you don’t have to be them. Times change and you are allowed to grow separately from them. It’s okay because the same applies to them and their parents. A good reminder for many parents who fail to respect the autonomy of their children.
Rabbi, thank you for this. My husband and I have not been able to make peace with his parents. His mother still is insisting he divorce me, ten years later. Last week I just had a thought, a wish I could find someone who could clarify this decision and you answered my prayer. Thank you so much, for how much peace this brings to my marriage and our children even.
Thank you for this. This is a wonderfully healing explanation.
Beautiful, Ravah Danya. Thank you. 💜
This is wonderful! Thank you so very much for taking time to write this. It is very helpful and a huge relief!
I needed this message today. Rabbi Ruttenberg, I really appreciate your expositions on the old testament.
Very helpful - thank you!
Would that I had had this to read when I was 17, 18, & such. And interesting to me that this came on what would have been my father's 101st birthday. All day long I have struggled to honor his memory, to focus on the good moments. And there were some...and I did personally care for him, do hospice care for him in the home we shared with my mother, my spouse, my children - for which he returned disrespect, disdain, and I suspect, actual hate.
On the other hand, having had time now to process at least some of that, I do not believe that I properly respected my mother. I was seduced, if you will, by my father into echoing his disrespect for her. I deeply regret that.
Pro tip for anyone considering doing in home hospice for a parent: consider well your relationship with them first. Any hostility/conflict is going to get magnified ten times over. It's ok to say no.
I am lucky that my mother, going on age 88, has always been someone I can both love and honor. I constantly worry, however, that because she lives several states away I am not providing enough care for her. I do have a sibling who lives near her, and others who visit more often, but it's just not clear to me where being realistic about what I can do, ends, and where being a bad son begins.
Thank-you for tackling this, Rabbi.
This is something I struggled with a lot, my late father was a lot, a holocaust denier, queerphobic etc. I broke off contact years before his passing. He would try to reestablish contact with passive aggressive birthday cards that said things like, "on your birthday you deserve to be with the people you love."
I now consider myself to be a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and I have a really complicated relationship with his legacy. On the one hand I sometimes wonder if there's not a part of my attraction to Judaism that's not born out of a sense of rebellion, and how that rebellion runs counter to how I've always had that verse interpreted growing up (though many of my Jewish friends when I've confided these fears have joked that making major life decisions out of spite sounds pretty Jewish to them).
At one point I developed romantic feelings for a Jewish friend (who's own life was cut short due the emotional turmoil of abusive parents), though she didn't view me the same way. There's part of me that worried those feelings weren't pure either (though she was in every way my type, I have to admit the idea of pissing off my father even more held some appeal).
But she was my type, and I'm attracted to Judaism because with Jews I can have these frank discussions, even friendly arguments about what the Torah means, and analyzing and discussing stories is what I do.
I still struggle with other (less toxic, but still not very understanding) family members when it comes to being myself. It's nice to be told that I can study the Torah with teachers who make me feel welcome and accepted, and that doing so isn't a simultaneous violation of those mitzvot.
Over a few years of therapy, I've started to set up more boundaries and take more control over my own life, but this does help create some further spiritual distance.
I remember feeling so freed when a Rabbi clarified for me the difference between honour and love. Thank you to stretching my understanding even further, R'Ruttenberg! My question is what about what can be said publically. I mean, if I want to talk about healing from abuse or trauma, wouldn't doing so violate honouring? I love the action/material focus here but what about words, esp as they relate to engaging in activities of finding communities of healing, incl on social media?
Needed this, thank you.
This is really liberating, for a Xian whose mother liked to use this text as a cudgel. She equated "honor" with "love" or at least "being nice". Our history was such that even "being nice" to her was not healthy (implication was to ignore childhood trauma).
These insights are so helpful, and I wonder how they can be applied in cases where the child has more than one set of parents? As an adopted person, I have first/birth parents and adoptive parents. Children with step parents are another example. No doubt there are other cases. The Torah and commentaries don't seem to account for these types of child/parent relationships. But given the complexities of them, one could argue that guidance is needed even more.