The first time I set eyes on the people who would become my parents-in-law was in a storm of chaos, confusion and congratulations.

I am from Australia, my wife is from Canada, and we dated in New York, whichWe didn't have a minute to properly introduce ourselves meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet her parents before proposing. But as soon as she said yes, they jumped in a car and headed to the U.S. for the l’chaim (engagement party).

With all the people rushing in and out to say mazal tov, we really didn’t have a minute to properly introduce ourselves. It was only the following morning that I had the chance to approach my future father-in-law for a chat.

You could tell he was still on a high. His oldest daughter was a kallah (bride)!With his trademark huge smile and booming voice he turned to me, threw his hands out from his sides and declared, “I’ve been asking all my friends how to be a good father-in-law, and they all say the same thing: ‘Keep your mouth shut and your wallet open!’”

I got lucky. My parents-in-lawcarried through on that commitment of being generous with their funds while sparing their advice. But now, on reflection, I wonder: What are the reciprocal responsibilities towards one’s parents-in-law? In a perfect world, how should we act towards the people who gave us our spouse?

Parents are obvious. It says explicitly in the Ten Commandments that we must honor and obey them, and even though it’s sometimes difficult to do it right, at least we know what we’re supposed to do. After all, your parents gave you life and raised you. You are a product of their influence, and they made you who you are today. But it’s much harder to craft an appropriate relationship with your in-laws when you meet them comparatively later in life.

Sure, you are grateful that they agree to let you marry their child, but you don’t really know them yet. Yesterday they were strangers, and suddenly you’re expected to treat them like surrogate parents? You’d hope for something more sophisticated than a give-and-take relationship, where the older generation gives and the new couple takes, but how exactly should you act towards the new adults in your life?

Perhaps the perfect encapsulation of the ideal in-law relationship can be found in this week’s Torah portion. The Jewish people had been travelling through the Sinai desert, waiting to receive the Torah, when Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro, showed up for a visit.

Having won fame for his role in the Exodus, and in possession of his own G‑d-given fortune, Moshe didn’t need anything from Yitro. Yitro was an anachronism—an old-time idolater who’d been shunned even by his own people. Moses could have been excused had he given his wife’s dad a perfunctory greeting and settled back to the serious business of communing with G‑d and carving out the two tablets containing G‑d’s word.

Yet, instead, we read how Moses lead a procession out of the camp to welcome him andA celebratory dinner was quickly arranged pay homage. A celebratory dinner held to mark the occasion was quickly arranged, and while Yitro, Aaron and the elders lolled back in comfort, Moses himself waited on tables and respectfully served his father-in-law.

Wandering around the camp the very next morning, Yitro started poking and prying into the nation’s affairs and offering unsolicited advice about what exactly Moses was doing wrong. Rather than resenting the interference, Moses ceded his authority and reorganized the entire system in line with his father-in-law’s suggestions. And immediately after that, the verses describe the giving of the Torah.

It’s as if the Torah is suggesting that Moses’ demonstration of respect to his wife’s father was an essential ingredient in receiving the Torah .

It’s a mitzvah to honor and respect your parents, but Moses knew that a real mensch is equally solicitous of his in-laws. And when you respect the people who made and fashioned your spouse, not for what they give, but for who they are, you truly deserve to receive the Torah from G‑d.