Wednesday, December 16, 2009

“One Honors His Parents in Life and in Death”

Every morning we are reminded that honoring parents is one of the mitzvos for which one enjoys the fruits in this world while the principle is preserved for the world to come. Our sages teach that this mitzvah applies not only when parents are still alive, but even after they leave the world. Rav Itzele Peterburger, zt”l, even said that the main time to honor one’s parents is specifically after they have left the world and are helpless because of their powerlessness to do mitzvos. It is precisely after death, when their child’s every action redeems them from Gehinom and elevates them in Gan Eden, that a dedicated child will always strive to do everything possible to give the departed true nachas.
The gaon and tzaddik, Rav Yosef Tausig zt”l once told a story about how a certain gadol once traveled to Mattersdorf, and he asked Rav Tausig to come along with him to the cemetery to pray at his late mother’s grave. When they got there, this gadol took out his walking stick and laid it on the grave, saying, “Mama, I’m here with the silver stick.” It was customary in those days for prominent Rabbonim to walk with a silver-headed cane. To Rav Tausig’s wonder, this gadol then explained that he wanted to fulfill the mitzvah of honoring his mother and bringing her joy, because during her lifetime she had always been pained over the fact that her son had yet to serve as a prominent Rav. Even though he only took the position after her petirah, he had traveled a great distance to her grave to give her the news and honor her even in death, to let her know that, with Hashem’s help, her desires had been fulfilled and her son has received his “silver stick.”

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