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כבוד אב ואם - Kibbud Av Va'Em

Although the town of Hebron is a bit dangerous now for tourist visits, it is a city that should be visited. For archeology lovers, there is the marvelous wall that King Herod (37-4 BCE) built around and on top of the natural cave that is the Cave of the Machpelah (the Cave of the Patriarchs).

The cave plus the field adjacent to it was bought by Abraham from Efron the Hittite, in order to bury his deceased wife Sarah (Genesis 23). Its location lies across from the city of Hebron, which had not encroached upon the cave in those days as it does now.

The cave was a double one, as is mentioned in many texts; the mention of it is seen in the Hebrew word, Machpelah. The root of Machpelah is 'kafal' (double) in the Hebrew word.

The Canaanite city of Hebron, then called Mamre, dates back about 4000 years. Apart from Sarah, Abraham himself was buried in Hebron, followed by Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, whose cenotaphs can be seen today, in addition to the one of Joseph (according to Jewish tradition Joseph is buried near Shechem (Nablus). Jewish tradition also believes that Adam and Eve were buried in Hebron. Rachel, on the other hand, Jacob's second wife who also counts as matriarch, was buried near Bethlehem.

Because of these graves, which are also important for the Christian and Muslim religions, whose functionaries have ruled over the Cave of the Machpelah for centuries, Hebron is the oldest holy place in Israel; even older than Jerusalem.

Seeing as our mommas and papas are buried there - Hevron seems like the perfect place to learn about the mitzvah of Kibbud Av va-Em - honoring your father and mother.

Honor your father and mother is one of the Ten Utterances or Commandments that God gave us at Mount Sinai.  There is actually another mitzvah about how we should treat our parents in the book of Vayikra (Leviticus 19:3).  There it says that we should “have awe for our mother and our father.”

The Talmud (Kiddushin 31b) helps us understand that “awe” means not sitting or standing in a parent’s designated place and not contradicting a parent, while “honor” means feeding parents, clothing parents, and helping them come in and out.


So now it’s your turn.  
How do you show respect and awe for your parents?  What can you do differently this month to show more respect for your parents?
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