The Torah doesn’t command us to honor the perfect parents. It commands us to honor our parents. The Rebbe showed that sometimes we need to be creative in finding ways of fulfilling this mitzvah even when it’s difficult.
By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier – The Beis Medrash
“Rosh Yeshiva,” the distraught father began, “my son really needs a talking-to regarding his kibbud av va’eim.”
The next day, the Rosh yeshiva called the bachur and said that he’d like to set up a time to learn together. The bachur was excited about the invitation and asked which material he should prepare.
“How about if we learn some halacha from the section of yoreh deah?”
“Which specific halachos does the rosh yeshiva have in mind?”
“I was thinking that we should learn the halachos of kibud av va’em.”
Visibly disappointed, the bachur respectfully responded, “I was hoping that we could learn something that’s relevant these days.”
The fifth of the aseres hadibros is “Honor your father and your mother.” In today’s society there are those who would rather read this as, “Honor your parents with the blame for all your issues.”
But baruch Hashem we have a Torah to keep our heads clear.
A woman wrote to the Rebbe complaining about the strained relationship with her mother, apparently justifying her disrespect for her mother. The Rebbe replied (free translation):
“Even if your mother’s relationship with you isn’t as it should be, you should reflect on the great deal of pain parents endure in raising children, beginning from childbirth, then caring for them, etc. After reflecting on this it becomes easier for children to be maavir al middoseihem (i.e. be more forgiving) and restrain their feelings towards the faults they find in their parents. If there are indeed any faults, how much more so if these are imagined or exaggerated.
“However, given the fact that we can’t always have our minds control our hearts, it would be a good idea to have other people present when you visit your parents. It’s less likely to get into arguments in public, and this can help you and your parents become accustomed to having peaceful times together.”
The Torah doesn’t command us to honor the perfect parents. It commands us to honor our parents. The Rebbe showed this woman that sometimes we need to be creative and practical in finding ways of fulfilling this mitzvah even when it’s difficult.
The Torah’s way is the right way and with Hashem’s help we’ll all live a better and happier life by promoting His ways.
 Igros Kodesh vol 9, pg. 320
 In extreme cases of abuse or the like, R”l, one should seek the guidance of a competent rav who will guide them in the Torah way.
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