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Father’s Day

By Tzvi Fishman
6/21/2009, 12:00 AM

For a Jew, every day is Father’s Day. Not just once a year. One of the Ten Commandments is “Honor thy father and thy mother.” It is one of the most fundamental commandments of the Torah.

In many synagogues, a representation of the Ten Commandments, in the form of the Two Tablets of Law, can be found above the ark which houses the Torah scrolls. The five commandments on one side of the tablets concern laws between man and G-d. On the other tablet are five laws between man and his fellow man. Interestingly, the commandment of honoring one’s father and mother are on the side of the tablets dealing with commandments between man and G-d. This is because our parents are our gateway to G-d. It is they who teach us about G-d and the Torah. Therefore, honoring them and the Torah they teach us, is essential to the preservation and continuity of the Torah from father to son, generation after generation.

The full wording of the commandment is: “Honor thy father and mother that thy days may be long in the Land which the L-rd thy G-d gives thee” (Shemot, 20:12).

Not many commandments come with a clearly stated reward. Please look closely at the reward for keeping this fundamental commandment – that your days may be long in the Land of Israel. Isn’t that interesting!

What’s the connection? Well, if you honor your father and mother, you will respect what they teach you. Since Jewish fathers and mothers are obligated to teach their children the Torah, they will naturally teach their kids that a Jew is supposed to live in the Land of Israel. Part of respecting one’s parents is obeying them when they instruct their children in the ways of the Torah. Thus a child who honors his parents will live in the Land of Israel in line with the Torah’s teachings.

Though my parents were not happy when I told them that I was moving to Israel, I made aliyah anyway. While honoring one’s parents is an essential tenet of Judaism, if parents do not want a child to move to Israel, the child does not have to listen to them, since going on aliyah is a mitzvah, and parents are not allowed to prevent a child from carrying out a commandment of G-d. In my parents’ great merit, even though they strongly disagreed with my decision, they always helped me out financially through the years so that I could observe the commandment of living in Israel, which our Sages tell us is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah.  

Later, when my aging parents became ill, I had the good fortune of bringing them to Israel to live adjacent to my family in Shilo and then Jerusalem. My father, of blessed memory, spent his last nine years enjoying a new life in the Holy Land. At the end of his sojourn in this world, he merited to be buried on the Mount of Olives, alongside the Prophets and great Rabbis of Israel.

How sweet it is! On the terrace in Shilo

Dad’s yahrtzeit is coming up next week. Every day this year has been Father’s Day for me, dedicated to his memory. May the Torah that I continue to learn, and the mitzvot that I and my family keep in the Land of Israel, be our way of celebrating Father’s Day the whole year round, for all of our many years to come in the Land that G-d gave to the Jewish People.

Honor Thy Father and Mother - Escorting Mom and Dad to their Melabev Senior Citizens group in Jerusaelm.

May his memory be for a blessing.