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Honoring Parents

Honoring Parents

"My Dear Grandma, You're Still the Most Beautiful in My Eyes"

Published on Wednesday September 11th, 2019

Some time ago, I was traveling to Paris for a cousin's wedding. Taking advantage of the opportunity, I visited my grandmother who, having had a bad fall two years ago, now lived in a retirement home.

Wanting to surprise her, I did not warn her of my arrival. As soon as the door opened, I jumped on her neck to kiss her.

She looked at me and said, "Sarah, it's so nice that you came to see me, but why are not you in London?" Sarah, is my cousin ...

All of a sudden, I realized that she did not recognize me. "Grandma, it's me, Leah, I came from Jerusalem for a wedding, do you recognize me?"

"Yes, excuse me, I made a mistake, I thought you were Sarah."

I do not at all look like my cousin Sara. I realized that for a brief moment she had lost her memory. Then, I took the time to look at her. Her hair was white, she was skin and bones, and she was lying on her bed without being able to move.

Seeing her like that, I could not hold back my tears ... Where was my strong grandmother? The one who raised her seven children with an iron fist? She who hosted all her children and grandchildren on Shabbat with her marvelous delicacies ... The one who spoke to us half in Arabic and half in French ...

Her body was there in front of me, but all the rest had disappeared to nothing but memories ...

"My daughter, why are you crying? Because I'm old?"

"No Granny, you're still the most beautiful in my eyes, I'm just crying because I missed you so much", and there I sat down at her side like a little girl, just to feel her close to me.

A few minutes later, the nurse arrived. She put a bib on her, and then fed her with a spoon. She spoke to her like a child. I wanted to shout at her, "It's not because her body does not work anymore that she does not deserve consideration." But I kept quiet and swallowed my tears. When the nurse left, my dear Granny turned around and said: "You realize, with all that I have accomplished in my life, I am now nothing."

This sentence was for me a total shock.
I always thought that the most terrible thing in old age was the inherent health problems, but I was far from imagining that the worst suffering was to be diminished in the eyes of one's relatives.

Total Decline

What defines man and respect for him? His actions. Whether through work, study, education, and caring for one's children, cooking or chesed activities, a person esteems himself and is esteemed based on his actions. Except that once a person gets old, they are no longer able to do these actions.

At that moment, we understand the importance of the mitzvah of Kibud Av V'em (honoring parents).

By showing consideration to our parents, we are doing more than a mitzvah, we are giving them the feeling that they are essential in our lives, and that we always need them; in other words, they are allowed to feel alive.

But how can we do this without first learning to see all the benefits they have given us, without remembering every moment that they raised us, supported us, listened to us and loved us?

It Seems So Simple, and Yet ...

By privileging freedom and personal fulfillment to the detriment of the authority, new educational theories have radically changed family relations. The child became the center of family attention, giving children the feeling that they deserve everything.

 

How often do we hear children complaining about their parents: "I do not understand why they do not help us, they have money", "they give it to my brother and not to me", "they are retired and do not want to look after my children when I need them to", "my parents have backward ideas,'' "they tell me the same thing again and again, 100 times, as if I was still 5 years old "...

However, the laws of Kibud Av V'em are there to inculcate us with an entirely different attitude. This mitzvah enjoins us to show gratitude and respect to our parents, both by words and deeds, because if we are not able to appreciate what they have done for us, what kind of a relationship will we have with Hashem?

Finally, the person who is angry at his parents for not helping him financially will end up blaming G-d for his troubles, the one who thinks that his parents differentiate between their children will wonder why so-and-so has all that he wants and I have nothing ... He who finds his parents backward will certainly see the Torah as outdated.

When a man is grateful for the benefits lavished on him by his Creator, he recognizes that all the benefits of this world come only from Him.

The challenge of this mitzvah is therefore colossal, conditioning on the one hand the deep nature of our attachment to G-d, but also the quality of our relationship with our parents.

When we know that it is by their merit that we are alive, I say to myself that Hashem only asks us to return to them a tiny part of what we received ...

I dedicate this article to my grandmother Redoi bat Frecha.

Lea NABET

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