Parents are great.
Think about everything they do for you. They feed you. They give you a place to live. They buy you clothes. They give you a family and love. They put up with you when you are grumpy or angry. They take care of you when you are sick. They are there for you when you need them.
They do so much for you.
But they also make you do things. They make you eat vegetables. They make you finish breakfast. They make you eat fish. They make you take out the garbage. They make you walk the dog. They don’t let you eat candy whenever you want. They make you do your homework. They make you go to bed on time. They make you kiss Aunt Betty.
Why do they make you do so much stuff? Is it payback? Like, eating vegetables is worth a new pair of pants. Doing homework pays for family and love. Going to bed is rent for your room.
No. That is silly. (If it were true, kissing Aunt Betty would be worth a lot more.)
The real reason is that your parents love you. They give you everything. They don’t expect anything in return. They are happy when you are happy. And some of the things they make you do are good for you, or will help you, or are important lessons to learn.
But it is hard to see that.
It is hard to remember that your mother loves you when she forces you to clean up your room, or make your bed, or take out the garbage, or do your homework. It is hard to remember that your father wants what is best for you when he won’t let you stay up late, or eat cake for dinner, or build a big fire in the backyard.
So the Torah tells you to honor your parents. It wants you to respect them. And it wants you to appreciate all they do for you.
What are you supposed to do? How do you honor your parents?
Listen to what they say. Don’t call them by their first names – call them mom and dad, or Abba and Ima, or Mommy and Tatty, or ma and pa, or whatever they like. Don’t argue with them.
Do little things, too. Stand up when they walk in the room. Don’t sit in their chairs.
And it works.
By honoring and respecting your parents you come to appreciate them. You think, “Why am I doing this?” And you realize, “It is because my parents are great. They do so much for me. I bet it is because they love me.”
And it is a mitzvah to do that. Honor your parents. Appreciate what they do for you. Know how much they love you.