Kibud Av Vaem and Hakaras HaTov

I try to speak to my mother, may she have a long life, at least once a week.When a Yarhtzeit and any day that includes the saying of Yizkor approaches, we speak and there is a perceptible sigh in our voices as we remind each other about either the Yahrtzeit of my father ZL and saying Yizkor.Such a feeling brings back numerous memories.

I may have written about this before but my parents were very instrumental in my pre teen years in making Kiddush Friday nights, sending me to Talmud Torah, seeing that I had a Bar Mitzvah, stayed out of school on those Yamim Tovim that were not school holidays, being in shul for the Yamim Noraim , sending me to and paying for my being active in NCSY, and being patient, albeit not without some “discussions”, with my ups and downs as a BT for many years as they waited to see if my interest in observance was genuine or just a teen age fad during the late 1960s and early 1970s where many teens were engaged in far more rebellious acts and life styles. When they found out that NCSY had a special banquet at its National Convention for which I was a co chair, in their innocence, they wanted to attend, despite the fact that the banquet was an all night event with a huge emotional component for anyone who attended.Somehow, I managed to assure them that their presence was not necessary.

My father ZL was always active in his shul without being an officer. When an issue arose as to the financial well being of the shul, my father was asked to review the books and did so in a way that helped place the shul in a far better financial setting.

My father ZL was an accountant and a partner in a local accounting firm. Among his many clients was the local Hebrew Day School and its principal who he never charged for his services ( which was his practice for many indigent clients). He was very close with its principal. Other Torah observant clients were one of the few Torah observant families in a nearby town. My parents went to all of their simchas for their children, many of whom are prominent Mchanchim whose names I recognize in the Yated and elsewhere. When a prominent yeshivah gdolah opened in the area, my father ZL was one of the few people in the area who became active in its early years.

There were times when I called upon rabbanim affiliated with NCSY or a rebbe in YU to speak to my father about key issues. My father ZL was always respectful of and favorably impressed with their suggestions.

Recently was my father’s Yarhtzeit on the cusp of both our anniversary as well as the departure for a year of learning in Eretz Yisrael for our daughter, son in law and our adorable grandaughter. Our younger daughter , who was an educational coordinator for one of NCSY’s summer programs, will be graduating Stern this winter . The memories of the past , the present and the future are passing in an amazingly quick manner. I suspect that many of us have either albums or pictures that we don’t look at because many people in the albums are in the Olam HaEmes. Even without looking or glancing at the album, I will always remember how much my father ZL and my mother, may she be blessed with many more years of an active life, enjoyed our chasunah , which for many of their friends, was the first Torah observant chasunah they went to, as opposed to a wedding.

Anyone who has gone through many aspects of Halacha and Hashkafa will see that Hakaras HaTov is a major aspect of being a Torah observant Jew which has no real end.From a lawyer’s perspective, it is akin to a cause of action that has no statute of limitations. After all, we relive the Exodus, the receiving of the Torah and living in a precarious existence in the desert every year and in many ways throughout the year as we fulfill Mitzvos Bein Adam LaMakom. Yet, Kibud VaEm, honoring and respecting one’s parents is a crucial means of Hakaras HaTov on the Bein Adam LChavero level.

I realize that for many BTs, the relationship with one’s family of origin is one of the most sensitive and frustrating issues in their growth as Bnei and Bnos Torah and that one can very well maintain that the issue is largely dependent on how one relates to one’s family before one became a BT, as opposed to strictly halachic and hashkafic components. Yet, as we walked our daughter down to the chupah, enjoy our granddaughter and live our lives as Torah observant Jews, I see and hear my father with us. Yehi Zicro Baruh

4 comments on “Kibud Av Vaem and Hakaras HaTov

  1. a beautiful post and you are fortunate to have parents who continued their love for you during your years of growth.
    One wonders why some parents can stay loving while a child may become more observant, while other parents at the other extreme are so turned off that they sever their relationship with their child. I have researched this phenomenon in depth and for many years. One thesis suggests that if a BT looks at the relationship he or she had with their parents and siblings before becoming observant, this is a glimpse into how things might be after becoming observant. Of course, this can be quite painful to the innocent BT who believed they were loved unconditionally ( ah, there’s the rub!) only to find out that when they depart from parental expectation or comfort levels, they may face the harsh reality of broken relationships. We are all obligated in the mitzvah of kibud av v’em…how we implement this mitzvah requires love and acceptance on our part, regardless of whether we are accepted by our parents. Thank you for this post.

  2. Nice job, Steve.

    Besides a tribute to your father, zl, and mother, may she live long, you provide good information for people in many circumstances.

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