Of the Ten Commandments included in this week’s parashah, the mitzvah to “Honor your father and mother” stands out for its central importance. The fifth commandment serves as a balance between the first four which concern our relationship to God and the following commandments that instruct us how we should relate to other people. Our rabbis teach us that “Honoring our father and mother” is in the middle of the commandments because it is through our parents that we first learn about our relationship to God as well as to human beings.
When we are children, it seems easier to honor our parents. Expressions of love may include flowers picked from the garden, a handmade card filled with rainbows, and a surprise breakfast served in bed. But when we are adults, honoring our parents is far more complicated; especially as they age.
As adults, we have a multiplicity of concerns that occupy us including caring for our spouse and children, as well as being productive in our work. Aging parents may have a multitude of issues, including the desire to remain independent for as long as possible though the capacity to do so may be diminishing.
As adult children, we do not wish to deprive our parents of their ability to control their own lives. On the other hand, we may be deeply concerned about issues our parents face – when to stop driving, when to have someone assist at their home, how to make decisions about medical care – and we feel unsure about how to address these concerns with them.
Recognizing the prevalence of these issues in families today, I am pleased that our congregation will be sponsoring a series of three sessions on the subject of “Aging, You, and Your Family.” The first session will take place Tuesday night, February 21, at 7:30pm in the Social Hall. Professionals from the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living will make presentations on topics including:
Aging – our loved ones and ourselves
Parents – nearby and at a distance
Siblings - stress of aiding aging parents
Planning - sooner rather than later
Additional sessions will take place March 7 and 21. There is no charge for these sessions and all are welcome.