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    The Fifth Declaration...

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    Arik
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    The Fifth Declaration...

    Post  Arik on Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:31 am

    "Honor your father and mother."
    This is a great commandment. However, i often wonder how does one reconcile that with the fact that some parents verbally/emotionally/sexually/physically abuse their children, neglect them or behave constantly in a way that shames them.
    How does one who tries to follow the Torah yet, has parents who have tormented them throughout their lives still yet manage to keep the 5th Declaration even when in their hearts, they may resent or in some cases hate one or both of their parents for reasons they feel are justified?
    Can a Girl "Honor" her mother who physically and emotionally abused her since childhood? Can a boy honor his father when his father was an alcoholic who regularly beat him?

    Perplexing.

    Thoughts?


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    Yehudah

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    Re: The Fifth Declaration...

    Post  Yehudah on Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:25 pm

    Can or can't isn't a question, the commandment isn't a request, it's a commandment. You can honor your parents and not be involved in their lives, if that's the only way you can perform the mitzvah.

    Talk to a Rav.


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    Arik
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    Re: The Fifth Declaration...

    Post  Arik on Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:31 pm

    The way Rashi would explain it, honoring one's parents is not just respecting them out of natural parent/child respect but also clothing them, feeding them, taking care of them, visiting them, etc...I would imagine someone who has been abused over many years by their parents may have a hard time being able to do that.


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    faithful1

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    Re: The Fifth Declaration...

    Post  faithful1 on Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:28 am

    I think that while it is important to honor your parents, to love them unconditionally for not only the reason of commandment, but also for your own personal emotional reconciliation. Once your parents are gone from this earth, children who have harbored bitterness and resentment for their parents caused by hurt and have not reconciled with theire parent(s) are left with no opportunity to resolve this detrimental state between and further complicate grief.
    Parents form the foundation for a child's psychological and emotional well being. Emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse tremendously effect the subconscious and self esteem and anger/sadness of a child which is carried through adulthood if left unresolved. Thus, out of the mind, thoughts, come forth actions and how we relate to others, to situations, even view and relate to God for some, etc. Unless we have walked in an abused child's/adult child's shoes we have no idea what emotional struggle they have battled over the years. I have seen and heard horrible stories of how parents have spoken words of discouragement, condemnation, rejection, unworthiness and devaluing them despite the parents care of the child through meeting essential needs. Physical and sexual produces the similar psycholgoical messages and effects. These emotional wounds often make it difficult for adult children to openly honor their parents. Forgiveness is a very powerful thing. It is said that forgiveness is more beneficial for the person who is hurting....it helps to let go and resolve resentments...especially in situations where some who have caused shame, pain, anger through their actions do not have the ability to or can not recognize the hurt they have caused. "Hearts are often broken by words left unspoken". I believe that it is beneficial and helps to foster an openness and desire to honor parents more freely from the heart that anyone who has suffered abuse and continue to harbor hindering thoughts and feelings against their parents takes an opportunity to resolve these issues with their parents when possible. Also, What a healing and freeing experience it is when a parent acknowledges that their child did not deserve those words that bruised their spirit.

    Arik
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    Re: The Fifth Declaration...

    Post  Arik on Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:58 am

    Thank you for that post. It does ring a bell with me to some degree because of the fact that the relationship i had with my father was scarred mostly from the way he treated my mother and myself as well as his other behaviors that I don't want to go into into too much detail at this time.
    My father died of cancer a few years after he was out of our lives..Not long before that i was talking to a friend about trying to reconcile with him. he told me i should look him up and talk to him about a lot of the resentment and hurt that i felt he caused me. Not long after that, I found out my father died. I never had a chance to reconcile or resolve anything.
    That being said, knowing him, there was certainly no guarantee that reconciliation or a resolution would have been reached. While i think your post is very good and well meant, I think the main thrust of it is more about FORGIVENESS as opposed to the positive commandment of Honoring in the way it was earlier pointed out. While I honor my late father as my father, I also don't believe it is my duty to seek out someone who has harmed ME. In Judaism, when we harm someone, we are to seek out the person we have harmed and do what we can to get an absolution from them. We certainly have no obligation to seek out a thief who stole from us for the purpose of forgiving them, they on the other hand do have the obligation to seek us out and repay their debt and seek our forgiveness. To me it's almost the same concept except that due to the commandment to honor our parents, we should be willing to seek that reconciliation you mentioned if it means to make peace with our parents so that we can honor them and love them fully. However, there are cases as I am sure you and I have both seen in our lines of work where that may simply not be possible.

    To some degree, i think part of the answer lies in the Sh'ma.."Teach them (the commandments) thoroughly to your children..."
    Not only does this mean we should teach our children the words of G-d, but also set an example by following them ourselves.
    Likewise as King Shlomo wrote in the Proverbs, "direct your children in the way they should go...."

    In both cases, as a Jew, I would take it as we should teach in word and in deed. The Torah forbids anyone to willfully abuse anyone else. How much more so our own children. If someone is physically/sexually/mentally/emotionally abusing anyone, especially their own offspring, they are in a sense, behaving as a heretic and in some cases, may well be forfeiting their right to any honor that would otherwise be due to them...

    Thoughts?


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    Arik
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    Re: The Fifth Declaration...

    Post  Arik on Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:16 pm

    I ran this thread past the rabbi ( Rabbi Green), this was his response to me:

    What an intense issue. Honoring one's parents as you quoted means taking care of them to the best of your ability (Feed, clothe etc.) in recognition and in thanks that we owe them simply for being G-d's partner in creating us. The Gemara recounts the story of a sage who continued honoring his mother even though she physically and verbally abused him while he was honoring her. It can be a tough mitzvah to fulfill. Like everything, I think we need to do the best we can. I can imagine that in certain circumstances if the abuse was to a degree where it would be (psychologically) impossible to fulfill then one would be exempt.


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    Yehudah

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    Re: The Fifth Declaration...

    Post  Yehudah on Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:03 pm

    +1 Arik.


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