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Parsha Mitzvot: Kedoshim: Mitzvah 212 – Concept 585

“Every man: Your mother and father shall you revere and My Sabbaths shall you observe. I am God, your Lord (Vayikra 19:3) A person must revere his mother and father (Rambam, Hilchot Mamrim – The Laws of Insurgents)


And how far must one go in their reverence? Even if he is dressed in precious clothes and is sitting in an honored place before many people, and his parents come and tear his clothes, hitting him in the head and spitting in his face, he may not shame them, but he must keep silent, and be in awe and fear of the King of Kings Who commanded him thus. For is a king of flesh and blood had decreed that he do something more painful than this, he could not hesitate in its performance. How much more so, then, when he is commanded by Him Who created the world at His will! (Rambam, Hilchot Mamrim)

I recently posted some reflections on my father zt”l and realized how much they relate to this Mitzvah:

“The majority of poems one outgrows and outlives, as one outgrows and outlives the majority of human passions: Dante’s is one of those which one can only just hope to grow up to at the end of his life (T. S. Eliot).”

The Haggadah has changed for me from what the basic children’s story of my childhood, to a sophisticated perspective of Jewish history and applying its lessons, as did the Rabbis in Bnei Brak, to our times. I have outgrown the Haggadah of my childhood, and find that it is the perfect indicator of how much I have developed since the previous Pesach.

There is one constant: No matter how profound its lessons, I still aspire to be able to read it as did my father zt”l. We would all come to the Seder armed with ideas, questions, and explanations, but our father would read the words with such simple beauty that he answered all our questions just with his reading. (This was true of the way he read everything; a verse, Gemara, Rashi, Rambam, or Halacha; he saw in the basic text far beyond all the commentaries.) I hope to grow up to his reading of the Haggadah by the end of my life.

This year I understood that it is not only my reading of the Haggadah that indicates my growth, but the aspiration of my reading; the deeper my understanding, the more I appreciate my father’s clarity, and the more I aspire to grow up to read as did he.

There is a bittersweet quality to such aspiration; Almost twelve years after his death, I am still discovering more of his greatness. I realize that, although I revered him while he was alive; I revere him far more now, and I am pained that I did not have such reverence while he was alive. My father is still teaching me, touching me, guiding me. So, while most others outgrow their desire to be like their fathers, I hope to grow up to be like him by the end of my life.

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