June 18, 2015
Dear Friend of Israel,
This Sunday, people in the U.S. and other countries throughout the world will observe Father's Day. On this day, I again recognize how fortunate I am to live in Israel near my 95-year-old father and my wonderful mother, who made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. I'm also the proud father of three grown daughters, and a grandfather to five.
Both Father's Day and Mother's Day are relatively recent creations. But they are based on an ancient truth stated clearly in the Bible. When Moses went up Mount Sinai, he received the Ten Commandments. Right in the middle of this list that enumerates how we should conduct ourselves toward God and our neighbors is this instruction: "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).
Jewish teaching says there are three partners in the creation of a new life: a mother, a father, and God. Because of this partnership, we are to look at our parents not only with love, but with a sense of reverence. They were laborers, with God, in our creation – the co-authors of our life. In honoring our parents, we also honor God.
More than just an act of obedience, honoring our father and mother is also a sign of gratitude. Our parents gave us the most precious gift, the gift of life. Without them, we would not be who we are. Honoring our earthly parents is one way that we begin to understand the importance of the One who is the source of all life: God, our heavenly Father, who sustains us with His provision, protection, and love.
It is interesting to note that the commandment to honor one's father and mother is one of only two commandments that comes with a promise: a long life in the land God gives us. How meaningful this is to me, when I see that my own father has come to live the last years of his rich and full life in the land that God gave the Jewish people. On Father's Day, and every day, I give thanks for his life, and pray that he knows how much his godly example has meant to me throughout mine.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President