#110 Kibud av v’em: Honoring Your Parents

#110 Kibud av v’em: Honoring Your Parents

In this lesson you will explore the Jewish virtue and commandment of “Honoring your parents.” Honoring parents is one of the Ten Commandments and it has a reward connected to it, “Honor your father and mother that you may long endure on the land that God has given you (Exodus 20:12).”

#1 EXPLORE THIS:  What Does it mean to “Honor Thy Parents” in Jewish text?

What does it mean to “honor?” When a parent is elderly, the child must provide them with food and drink and clothing. One should bring them home and take them out, and provide them with all their needs cheerfully. —Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:7

The commandment to honor one’s human parents is compared to honoring God. The Talmud says that since there are three partners in the creation of a person (God and two parents), honor showed to parents is the same as honor shown to God.

The Jewish sages taught: It says, ‘Every person must respect his mother and his father’ (Leviticus 19:3), and it says, ‘God your Lord you shall respect and you shall serve’ (Deuteronomy 10:20).

—Talmud Kiddushin 31

#2. WATCH – Tzvi Talks about Honoring Parents

#3 READ: Where’s the grey area when it comes to “honoring thy parents?”

The commandment requires one to obey one’s parents when the command given by a parent is reasonable and permissible under Jewish law. For example, if a parent asks a child to bring him/her water, s/he must obey. However, if a parent asks a child to break a law of the Torah, s/he must refuse to obey.

Everything that your father says to you, you are obliged to obey. But if he says to you: “Let us bow down to idols,” you must not obey him, lest you become an nonbeliever. —Midrash, Yalkut Shimoni, Proverbs 960

Here are a few examples of when a child should not follow the direction of a parent:

  • A child is not required to obey if a parent says that s/he must marry a particular person, or must not marry a person s/he wishes to marry, provided the marriage is permissible by Jewish law.
  • A child who is traveling has an obligation to communicate with his/her parents to let them know s/he is safe in order to prevent them from worrying.
  • A child must continue to honor his/her parent after their deaths. This can be done by reciting kaddish for 11 months and on the yarzeit (anniversary of the parent’s death), and by donating charity in the memory of the parent. The study of Torah is also considered to be reverence toward a parent, for it shows that a parent raised a worthy child.
  • A child must never put a parent to shame, or speak harshly toward a parent.
  • A child is not permitted to interrupt or contradict a parent, or to disturb a parent’s sleep.

#4 WAIT A MINUTE: What about parents – what do they owe children? 

As a child must respect his/her parents, a parent must respect his/her children in return. This teaches a child how to respect his/her parents.

A parent has the following obligations toward their children:

  • To teach the children
  • To rebuke the children. A parent who fails to do so will lead his children into delinquency.
  • To refrain from showing favoritism toward his children. But a parent must never terrorize a child.
  • To train a child according to the child’s interests


1. What is special about your parent(s)?
2. How do you honor your parent(s)?
3. What responsibilities do you have towards your parent(s)?
4. In your opinion, what makes a parent?
5. Is there something that you do not honor or respect about your parent(s)?
6. Do your parent(s) always/sometimes/rarely/never treat you with the respect you deserve? Do you to them?

Need some help?

We’re here for you. At any time, if you have any questions, please contact one of our teachers so we can help you.

Also, at the end of the session, remember to review your responses in your Tamid Workbook so you can get credit for this lesson. Behatzlacha (Hebrew for good luck)!

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