Honoring Our Fathers
Yael Eckstein | June 12, 2023
This Sunday, June 18, people in the U.S. and other countries throughout the world will observe Father’s Day. For many, it’s a day to buy dad a gift, to take him out to lunch, or maybe simply to drop him a card or give him a phone call.
These are wonderful and thoughtful gestures. But the idea of honoring fathers goes much deeper—it’s a key value of our Judeo-Christian tradition. When Moses went up Mount Sinai, he received the Ten Commandments—ten guiding principles on how to live a godly life. Right in the middle of this list are these words: “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, and in honoring them we also honor God.
Even if our father is gone, surely there has been someone, perhaps a relative or trusted friend, who acted as a father in our life—a man who has given us good advice when we have faced a difficult decision, who listened when we needed a strong, steadying presence, who gently and compassionately has reproved us when we needed to be set on the right path.
This Father’s Day I will thank God for my abba, my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who loved me unconditionally and taught me that it was my duty to bring goodness and godliness into the world. I will think of all of the fathers in Ukraine who sacrificed by staying behind to fight the Russian invasion as their families fled to safety. And I will also pray for God’s blessing on so many more—all the fathers out there who are working to provide wise guidance and support, both physical and spiritual, to their loved ones, and to keep their families strong.
With blessings from the Holy Land,