Leviticus 16:1-18:30 & 19:1-20:27
Haftarah: Amos 9:7-15
In this week’s Torah reading HaShem reminds the children of Israel of their call to be holy. It is most significant that immediately after stating this call that two fundamental commandments are mentioned: to fear one’s parents and to keep the Sabbaths. In the Ten Commandments a different word is used in regard to one’s parents, this word is to honor. So what is the difference between these two words? In order to honor one’s parents they must be a priority in the child’s life. The word often times translated “fear” has an idiomatic sense of making something first. Children should place their relationship with their parents first before other relationships. This is until marriage, of course. After one marries, he should still respect, honor, and revere his parents; but his wife becomes a greater priority. One must remember the verse,
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
We all have heard the numerous jokes about a man’s mother-in-law, but in actuality it is his mother that statistics show that causes the greatest stress on the couple. This is because it is hard for his mother to accept the fact that there is now another woman more important to her son than she is. Almost unconsciously the husband’s mother competes for her son’s attention and takes pride in stating in many subtle ways that she knows her son better than the wife and she can do a better job taking care of him. It is nearly impossible for the new wife to deal with this problem alone with her mother-in-law. This is why in the book of Genesis G-d commands the man to leave his father and mother and to cling to his wife. This word “leave” implies a separation of sorts or a distance between. Failure to obey this command will affect the couple from enjoying the intimacy that G-d wants them to have.
The next thought in this section from parashat Kedoshim is to keep the Shabbat. What is the connection between the order of the commandments in this section? The sages say that although one must fear his parents, if one should order him to desecrate the Shabbat or any other commandment he must refuse. Obeying G-d’s laws always takes a precedent over that of a human being even that of a parent. In the New Covenant there is a similar admonition:
“Children obey your parents in the L-rd, for this is proper.” Ephesians 6:1
Notice the emphasis on the phrase, “…in the L-rd”. This supports the sages’ view that one never should transgress the word of G-d no matter who says to do so. It is also important to note that in Ephesians 6:2 there is the commandment of honoring one’s father and mother; the fact that this appears immediately after the admonition to obey one’s parents in the L-rd, means that obeying one’s parents and honoring them is not the same thing.
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It is interesting how G-d does not command the woman to leave her father & mother to cling to her husband. Perhaps it’s that she does it naturally.