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Got Parents?

Our relationships with our parents don't need to be as complicated as we might make them...
Honoring Parents

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Laura Ellen Truelove Sewanee, TN, USA May 15, 2011

Forgiveness Is Basic to Life and Health Believe it or not, there is a wisdom higher than our human wisdom. There is a way that seems right to people but the end thereof is death. Aren't we our own worst enemy if we choose to hold on to anger and hurt? Doesn't blame simply prolong the abuse? Keep it alive in the present moment? There comes a time in life when we are called to accept that people do the best they can with what they know, even our parents. Everyone deserves but no one gets perfect parents. Some parents are very wounded people who need healing and help. Forgiveness is the pathway to freedom. It opens the door to healing and light. Forgiveness prepares our hearts to receive joy unspeakable and full of glory in G-d's presence. As for me, I choose to follow His higher ways and to be obedient to His laws. You see, I now understand that G-d wants to redeem every abusive childhood. Praise His holy name, He has redeemed mine and if you let Him, He will redeem yours. Shalom. Reply

Anonymous houston, tx May 14, 2011

I think if we leave the matter of "honoring" parents for the sake of fulfilling the law-and simply to that-many posters like myself, feel "slighted". I think we should "honor" parents not just for following the commandment but because honoring them truly is best for US. To honor one's parents INSPITE of their abuse (if such was the case) has so many implications for the good that transcend our own reality. If one can become a healthy, loving human being despite of not being led in that way by one's own parents means that one is truly capable of following a torah lifestyle. The reason for "honoring" is beyond me, it transcends me but that's why its such a good idea. Reply

Anonymous September 20, 2010

to compare I find Portland's comments to be correct. I find Brooklyn's comments out of date. What was good in the desert or middle ages is not to be taken as proper today. Adding ' fear ' of parents to honor parents is disgusting. No child should ever have to ' fear ' a parent, no matter how many Talmudic sources there are. Torah is organic. Some interpretations of Torah law have to move with the times. ' Don't judge anyone until you have walked in their shoes ' may not be in Torah but it is a universal truth. Some parents are horrid. I don't care to honor them until they reach their final damnation in the World to Come. To honor them as procreators is hardly an honor. Some of these parents would feel honor as further justification for their abuse. Reply

Aharon Dovid Portland, OR September 19, 2010

mostrous words Rabbi Friedman,

Your teachings to continue 'honoring' parents despite their parental mistakes or failures really needs to be put into context if there is any context to your thoughts. For myself, who experienced living or rather surviving in a secular Jewish dysfunctional family with ongoing years of daily abuse and neglect your words are monstrous. Most adult parents can procreate and give birth yet not all give their offspring life. Reply

Itche Brooklyn April 8, 2010

What the Torah says See Talmud Kidushin P. 32 and Rambam Shoftim, Hilchos Mamrim Chapter 6 Halacha 7, the extent of honoring and fearing one's parents even if the parent is abusive. The Rambam concludes that one must do so, even if it is difficult, to fulfil the commandment of G-d. Reply

Anonymous February 3, 2010

Torah For me, there is only one question for guidance as/when necessary, parental or otherwise: Is what I am doing put a smile on G-d's face ?
I am not in clinical social work nor do i have any idea what they currently preach. What's popular today is of minor interest to me when it comes to parenting. I learned from my parents because they provided honest responsible loving care and support to all their siblings. Can this ever be out of date ?
Rabbi Tzvi is amazing. Whether he agrees with me on parenting or not is immaterial. I would respect his view. If we disagree, the honorable thing to do is to agree to disagree. The Torah is full of opposing commentaries. One must be careful not to accept the popular or majority opinion. Such references do not make them right.
As for deeming my approach to this heartfelt topic from logic, that is mistaken.The percentages quoted are not based on empirical data. So let me rephrase. Why do we need clinical social workers when it comes to parenting ? Reply

john smith fort lauderdale, fl February 2, 2010

its a funny thing... forgive but never forget. if a child is made to feel as if they are worthless and useless because they were continuously told these things and at the end of adolescence had thoughts of taking one's own life due to such torture. as long as you can honor the fact that you were not aborted before conception, this is the only way to survive. honor that your parents are human and did not have the knowledge to pass on to the child the feelings that were needed to create a feeling of honor within the child. honor is what G-d asks for and so this may be the ONLY reason for doing so, the only one! sometimes it is all that is left. Reply

chuna brooklyn, ny November 1, 2009

Winnipeg It seems you're coming at this very logically anonymous. I am in graduate school for clinical social work and what your saying is the popular ideas in school now. But that doens't mean it's right. I would really like Rabbi Friedman to answer this quandry. He put it out there, let him back it up. whatever Torah says is emes, and the problems of the world Torah knows how to address, period. But what was posted, with all due respect (the Rabbi is amazing..) may or may not be in line with Torah. Reply

Laura Ellen Truelove Sewanee, TN, USA October 30, 2009

Honoring our Parents What wisdom is expressed by Rabbi Friedman! All parents are flawed. My mother was controlling and emotionally abusive, but I still honored her as my mother. She had many wonderful qualities and I loved her dearly. My father was an angry man and emotionally and physically abusive but I still honored him as my father. He was a wonderful man in many ways and I loved him dearly. Both my parents are deceased now but I continue to honor their memory. More and more I remember what was good about them and I think of them with gratitude in my heart. I loved them while they lived and love them perhaps even more in death. I choose to honor them. This is one way I honor G-d. Reply

Yosef haTzadik Chapel Hill, NC October 30, 2009

Wonderful Thank you for this great video. Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, NY October 29, 2009

Rabbi Freeman Thank you so much for answering my question. I will show your answer to the children we were speaking about.
Incidentally, they are all happily married with children. Some of them have moved on and I do see that they are healthier and happier. The ones who are still carrying a grudge are in alot of pain.

It seems that the men in the family have an easier time of it than the women. I guess women are more sensitive. Do you have any suggestions that would be helpful to them?

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my previous question. May G-d bless you and give you the strength to continue to spread His light. Reply

chuna brooklyn, ny October 29, 2009

dear manis I would like to see a dialgoue with Rabbi Friedman and the note writers on this video blog.
What are the chances?? Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada October 28, 2009

honouring parents = honouring G-d This equation is true as stipulated in the 5th Commandment, and as i stated earlier originates from the sperm and egg. While you are amazed by the interaction of parent - child being respectful while not getting along, 80-90 % these situation are normal. But with some of these relationships, it is later in life that one finds out that the uncaring unloving parent(s) merely used their children as props. These children reach adulthood with social correctness/honour for their parents, but not love. What child does not crave love from their parent ? And when the parent is unable to fulfill this desire, a saddened or partially saddened life results. Please keep in mind , I am not talking about the majority. But there is a sizable minority that remains silent on this subject. Child psychology and child psychiatry are booming professional practices. Reply

anonymous October 28, 2009

what about kids whose parents passed away? is it still the same? Reply

LH Brooklyn, NY October 28, 2009

Honoring parents = Honoring G-d. No matter what situation you're in this is the thought process you have to have. It's not a simple thing that's happening when you're honoring your parent. Don't forget that G-d gave you your set of parents or guardian. The potential that can be created by Parent and child is so immense. I am amazed everytime I see a parent and child interacting even if they might not be getting along at the moment. Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada October 28, 2009

to brooklyn I totally agree with your concern, although i have my own answer. There is not enough room to answer it here.
First, the commentary here is superfluous. The rabbi is describing the 80-90 % of parents who deserve a pedestal. But what about the unfit parents ? They should be honoured as per the 5th commandment only because they provided the sperm and egg. Love is left out because G-d did not want to force love, because love cannot be forced. It must be earned. The notion that a child can never repay a debt to the parent is wrong. What parent brings a baby into the world thinking, " Just wait, I'll sacrifice and my child will " owe " me ? " It is the opposite. The parent owes the child love, a debt that the abusive parent never repays, and loving parents must continually contribute to. That love must be earned at all times. The love from a child is as deep and valuable as the love of a parent, by virtue of nachos, and looking after the aged etc.

One last point about the audio, the Rabbi points out that honouring the parent is " natural ". This again points to the "normal parent". It is the abusive parent that is abnormal who needs help, and abuse is a difficult addiction to fix.
Now to Rabbi Tzvi : If the parents did not educate with proper chesed and gevurah, as so many cannot, as you point out, the parent is at fault. At age of maturity, the abused child cannot be expected to bottle up their pain. That only leads to self-destructive habits by virtue of serious stress issues. Treating parents with dignity, like putting on a pedestal are not good advice. The unfit parent would only be encouraged to continue the abuse as if it is normal.
By the way, I have great parents. I got luckier than some of my acquaintances. They have/had an unfit parent(s).
All those books on proper parenting and honoring are purchased and read by the good parents. Naturally, abusive parents don't 'waste' their precious time on parental improvement. Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman October 27, 2009

Re: Entitled If we are speaking of children before the age of maturity, they have no halachic obligations and it is up to the parents to educate them. If the parents did not provide them that education, then their attitude is the fault of the parents, and not their own.

Once the child has attained some maturity, then we ask that s/he try to put this in the past and get on with life. Don't speak badly of them and treat them with dignity--even if your feelings are not there. Reply

Anonymous brooklyn, ny October 25, 2009

Entitled? If a child has been physically and emotionally abused (enough that the neighbors threatened to call the police),
is this child still halachicly obligated to honor his parents? Are parents, who've abused their kids, still entitled to be honored? Reply

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