At one point or another, almost every parent (religious or not) quotes the Ten Commandments to their child/children when they call upon them to “honor your father and mother!” This fundamental concept is about far more than catering to a parent’s ego. Rather, honoring one’s parents is the first step to respecting the world, one’s past and the caring role of the Ultimate Creator. The sages even state specifically that “There are three partners in the creation of a person, the Holy One, blessed be He, the father and the mother. When a person honors his/her father and mother, the Holy One, blessed be He, says: I ascribe [merit] to them as though I had dwelt among them and they honored Me’” (Talmud Kiddushin 30b).

It is interesting to note that God does not include His own honor in the Ten Commandments. (He simply declares Himself in the first commandment and prohibits worshiping other gods or taking His name in vain, but He does not demand to be honored.) Perhaps this is because God places greater importance on interpersonal relationships than on mitzvot between people and God.

The sages recognized that within the commandment to honor one’s parents, it is also necessary to understand interpersonal relationships:

Rabbi said: It is revealed and known to Him Who decreed and the world came into existence that a son honors his mother more than his father because she sways him by words. Therefore, the Holy One, blessed be He, placed the honor of the father before that of the mother. It is revealed…that a son fears his father more than his mother, because he teaches him Torah, therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, put the fear of the mother before that of the father (ibid 30b-31a).

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