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Ki Tavo(Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)

Honor Your Parents


Since we spend so much time around our parents, it's easy to forget to appreciate them and treat them with respect. This week's Torah portion (27:16) reminds us that the way we treat our parents isn't something to take lightly.

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In our story a kid discovers in a surprising way what his parents really mean to him.

THE BIG WIN

"Kenny, can you please turn down the radio so I can tell you something before we leave?!" the boy's mother shouted over the music blasting from the portable stereo's speakers.

He flashed his parents an annoyed look and, with a snarl, slightly lowered the volume.

"Yeah, whadaya want?"

"Mike, here will be watching you while we're out," she said, pointing to the tall babysitter who had just walked in the door. "Please listen to what he says. And please change out of those dirty clothes and brush your..."

"Yeah, right," Kenny mumbled, flipping the volume back up, before his mom had even finished speaking. Exasperated, Kenny's parents thanked Mike over the racket and went out.

"Kenny, you know," Mike shook his head at the boy lounging, feet up, on the couch, "if I ever spoke to my mom or dad the way you did just now, I wouldn't be able to sit for a week."

"That's too bad for you," the boy laughed and went back to his music.

Time passed. Mike, who'd been doing his homework, went to check on Kenny, now in his room, who was still glued to the radio.

"Don't you ever do anything else around here - like help your parents?" Mike joked.

"Why should I?" Kenny shrugged. "Besides ... hey, wait..." he said, suddenly focusing on the radio. "The announcer just said that today is super-prize day... Big giveaways to listeners... Okay!" He turned up the volume even higher. Just then, the phone rang and Mike went to answer it. A minute later, he burst back into the room looking all excited.

"Guess what man?" he said. Kenny looked up as Mike went on. "I just got off the phone and you won the super-prize!"

Kenny shot up straight.

"Are you serious?" he asked, wide-eyed.

"Totally. They're going to pay all your expenses for you for the next 15 years! Not only that, but they're giving you a free place to live!"

"Alrightttttttttttttttttttt!!!" Kenny jumped up and down, fist in the air. "But where ... how do I get my prize?"

That's the best part, man. The people giving you the prize are on their way here now. Shouldn't be more than another five or ten minutes."

Wow! Kenny thought. To win such a prize! Who could believe it?

But he had to hurry. This was a big event and he wanted to make a good impression on the ones giving him his super-prize - it was the least he could do. Kenny quickly changed out of his grubby clothes and brushed his teeth and hair.

He raced downstairs just in time to hear someone turning the knob to the front door.

"I looked," Mike winked "It's them - the ones giving you the super prize. Hey, you look pretty good," he added with a thumbs-up.

Kenny smiled from ear-to-ear and stood like a soldier at attention as the door swung open and in walked ... his parents!

The boy glared at the babysitter who, with a grin, whispered back:

"Here they are! The folks who give you everything - a place to live, food, clothes... Think about it, man!"

In that moment everything clicked in Kenny's head. Mike was right. His parents not only gave him everything, but had been doing it since he was born!

"Well, well," Kenny's father said, taking in the scene. "Sure look's like everything's under control here."

"Thanks for changing your clothes, Kenny." his mother added with a smile.

"No problem, Mom." the boy answered, trying to sound polite. If only she knew exactly how much he'd really changed -inside.

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Ages 3-5

Q. How did Kenny feel about how to treat his parents at first?
A. He felt like he didn't have to be respectful.

Q. How did he feel in the end?
A. When he realized all they do for him, he felt very grateful.


Ages 6-9

Q. What life-lesson did Kenny learn that day?
A. He'd gotten into a habit of disrespect toward his parents, but when Mike's ruse got him to see things from the right perspective, he realized that his parents do so much for him and deserve his appreciation and respect.

Q. Why do you think it's easy to forget to treat our parents the way we should?
A. Since our parents love us so much and want to do things for us, we can take them and all they do for granted. However, the love and care they give us should be a reason to treat them even better than we treat most other people - and certainly not worse.


Ages 10 and Up

Q. Does respecting our parents mean we are obligated to do everything they want us to do?
A. While we should make an extra effort to accommodate our parents' wishes as much as possible, there may be times when, as individuals, we may have to make choices that they don't prefer. However, even then it should be in a spirit of respect and dialogue.

Q. What can a person do to improve his relationship with his parents?
A. One thing is - as is mentioned in the story - we can contemplate how much they have done for us over the years and try to repay some of that good through words and acts of kindness toward them. We can also try to hear their side of things and even if we disagree always try express our feelings with respect.


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Published: September 13, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 4

(3) Adrian Vink, September 14, 2011 1:13 AM

If only I had read this years ago!

What a story, and of course the principles involved. If only I had read this article years ago, not so much for my self but to use with my children when they were growing up. Very thought provoking article.

(2) Kyle Lemaitre, February 8, 2011 6:55 PM

When a child my parents divorced.My parents both have done wrong not only to each other but to us children who are now adults.My dad and his parents hold grudges on us mainly for leaving him in the first place when we were children.How can a parent dislike let alone disown their children when they were too young to see the truth in everything?I made an attempt to reconnect with my dad last summer and it let me getting disowned again.I tried to respect him like i have with my mom but my dad is being stubborn and not respecting me rejecting to love me.

Adrian Vink, September 14, 2011 2:04 AM

In regards to Kyle's comments-

I know the pain and heart ache that this can bring upon a child under such circumstances as I have experienced this myself both in the sense of family and on a spiritual level. For myself, it has only been for HaShem that I have been able on the most part, to overcome the situation although sometimes it still gets to you. My brother and sister where more fortunate as they were much older and had already left home when this had taken place. In all this I tried repeatedly to mend my relationship with both my parents with some success. My father has now past on to the next life - and how I miss him even though all the pain I have had to endure. Keep your chin up and lean on HaShem for strengh. On the spiritual side, I was brought up as a gentile within the Christian Faith as my grandparents hide our Jewish heritage from all of us, I can only guess as to why, perhaps due to what happened in the war in Europe. Anyway I was a Lay minister in the church when I had a G-D encounter and through that discovered that I was in fact Jewish. With that I dared to enquire for the truth of the Faith of Israel. When the Church found out that I had come back to the Faith of Israel, they through me out of the church and tried to destroy my marriage, family, business, and myself in what-ever way they could, to no avail. Why, because I trusted in the G-D of Israel, HaShem. True Faith in the true G-D will overcome all upheavals if you only TRUST HIM. Shalom.

(1) AVROHOM LUKACS, September 15, 2008 1:23 PM

I Understand

I understand the words of honoring your parents. You can say that I am an expert in this field. When my parents became ill, about 20 years ago, I took upon the Mitzvah of respecting your parents to the next level. Moving in with them, taking them to Dr. appointments, hospitals, bathing, chemo and dialysis treatments, nursing home, and my Father in a wheelchair went to shul each week. They have passed on, but I sitll respect them. They died within 2 weeks of each other. Even now, I have met children, who do NOT respect their parents, but I do not question them at all.

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