Honoring one’s parents is one of the Ten Commandments. According to Judaism, parents are to be respected because they are the source of our tradition. In other words, parents not only gave us life in this world, but are the link that connects us to our eternal Jewish heritage.

The commentators point out that the first five of the Ten Commandments contains mitzvot between man and God, (don’t serve idols, don’t take God’s name in vain, etc.), whereas the second tablet contains mitzvot between man and man, (don’t murder, don’t steal, etc.)

Where is the mitzvah to honor one’s parents? One would think it would be included in the second set of commandments, the laws that govern interpersonal relationships. But, we see that it is actually in the first five. Because the relationship between parents and children serves as a springboard for how we should feel toward God.

From the moment of infancy and beyond, the way a parent acts toward a child forms in the child’s consciousness a paradigm for how God relates to us. The primary role of a parent, therefore, is to communicate to the child: “You are loved and cherished. You are unique and special, creative and talented. You are cared for and protected.”

The most important message a parent can communicate is: “You are not alone in this world.” This idea is the foundation of our relationship with God. A person may find themselves in a terrible situation – illness, poverty, war – but they can still know that God is with them.

“And you should know in your heart that just as a father punishes his son, God punishes you.” 

In this short sentence the Torah is teaching us the most basic tenet of trust in God. Just as a father only punishes a son because of his love for him and for his ultimate benefit, so too any punishments that God sends to us also emanate from His great love for us and is only for our good. When a person finds himself in a painful or challenging situation he should realize that it is ultimately for the good.

Today, face any challenges with an attitude of acceptance and recognition of the benevolence of God, your heavenly Father.