Posted on May 6, 2011
by Max Bartell, 2011 USY Religion/Edducation International General Board
P.J. O’Rourke is famous for saying, “Because of their size, parents may be difficult to discipline properly.” Now, regardless of the fact that O’Rourke is not a member of the tribe, this type of view and opinion is exactly what this week’s Parsha, Parshat Kedoshim seeks to change and get rid of. In Parshat Kedoshim, there are a rather unusually large amount of Mitzvot. There are 13 positive commandments, and 38 negative commandments, totaling 51 commandments. The first commandment in the Parsha is “Every man should revere his mother and father,” followed by “You shall keep my Shabbatot for I am Hashem your God.” There are a number of interesting things in these first two commandments, ranging from the wording used in them, to the reasoning behind the order that they are placed in. From the first commandment, “Every man should revere his mother and father,” we learn a number of things. We learn that by using the word revere, the Torah is implying that a person should not disagree with his parents in public, and should always treat them with the utmost respect. This can range from not taking their seat at a table, to correcting them in front of their friends, no matter how egregious their error may be. Just as a side-note, this pasuk is often used as proof and reasoning behind caring for your parents, even unto their old age.
Another interesting point that the commentators make with regard to this Parsha, has to do with the fact that the commandment to keep Shabbat directly follows the commandment to respect parents. According to Rashi, the importance of the order is that eventually this verse comes to teach us that a child should refuse his parent’s request that he or she desecrate the Shabbat, because ultimately Hashem and his Torah take precedence. This pasuk does not give a child the right to disregard the orders of his parents unless of course, the parent directs the child to break another one of God’s commandments. Only then is disregard of the parent’s orders acceptable. In terms of order that the commandments in this Parsha should be observed in, think of it this way: “1. Respecting your parents” and “1A. Keeping Shabbat.”
It seems that the commandments here really come back to one main theme of Judaism. The idea of the unwritten “Golden Rule.” The Golden Rule is essentially “V’ahavta L’Recha Camocha” or “Love your neighbor as you would yourself.” The commandments in this Parsha are really centered around the concept of respect. From the idea of not embarrassing your parents, all the way to not correcting an error that they make in front of their friends. While respecting our parents may appear to be a tall task, it is really quite simple. What it all boils down to is treating your parents the same way that you would like them to treat you. I highly doubt that one might want his parents to correct him or tell him that he iswrong in front of his friends. And even sometimes, when it may seem that his parents don’t understand your situation, he must still respect them because, in the words of Dr. Suess: “A Person’s a Person, no matter how small.”