Parsha Mitzvot: Toledot: Rabbeinu Yonah on Honoring Parents
The 28th of Cheshvan is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbeinu Yonah (ben Avraham) of Gerondi,France(1200 [or 1180]-1263). The Ramban’s mother and Rabbeinu Yonah’s father were siblings. Many years later, the Ramban’s son, Rav Shlomo, married the daughter of Rabbeinu Yonah. Thus, the two great rishonim were mechutanim as well as first cousins. He was a student of Rav Shlomo ben Avraham Min Ha’Har. When King Louis XIV of France, “Saint” Louis,” burnt all the copies of the Talmud in Paris in the Square of the Louvre, Rabbeinu Yonah, one of the Rambam’s main detractors, felt that the events in Paris were a sign that he and the other opponents of the Rambam were seriously wrong. He then composed his work Shaarei Teshuvah, in which he outlined the methods of doing Teshuvah, and he traveled from place to place preaching about the need to back away from matters which cause division among the Jewish People. Among his talmidim are the Rashba and Ra’ah. [Others cite his yahrtzeit as 1, 8, or 11 Cheshvan]
Know that the entire universe was created for the glory of God, Blessed be His Name, as it is written, “Everyone who is called by My Name and whom I have created for My glory.” (Isaiah 43:7) One who desires to bring honor to God, should begin by honoring his father and mother.
Our Sages of Blessed memory said that when a person honors his father and mother, the Holy One, Blessed is He, declares, “I consider it as if I dwelt among you and you honored Me.”
The main act of honoring parents is to give them pleasure – nachas – in words and actions. (Rabbeinu Yonah, The Letter on Teshuva #102)