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"Every man - Your mother and father shall you revere…" (Vayikra 19:3).

Rashi records the brilliant declaration of the Talmud that the Torah here mentioned the mother before the father because it is manifest to Him that the child fears the father more than the mother and therefore by mentioning the mother first, Scripture stresses the duty of fearing her too. However, In the case of honoring one's parents, the Torah mentions the father before the mother because it is manifest to Him that the child honors the mother more than the father because she endeavors to win him over by kindly words. Therefore, by mentioning the father first, Scripture emphasizes the duty of honoring him too.

Many of us can attest to the truth of this statement.

I find it interesting that as we read these timely words, I find myself in the USA preparing for the unveiling of the tombstone of my dear father alav hashalom, h.k.m. The Talmud teaches us that the mitzvahs regarding proper honor and reverence towards ones parents apply even after they have passed away. This includes doing lots of mitzvahs and learning Torah in their merit, as well as saying Kaddish in their memory.

The great Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva, Hatzaddik, Reb Chatskyl Levenstein ztvk"l, would illustrate to his students how important this is. "Remember when we were in Shanghai," he would tell them, referring to the time, during World War Two, when the entire Mirrer Yeshiva miraculously escaped to Shaghai and survived the horrors of the Holocaust. "Every day, we waited, with great anticipation, for some of our friends in the Free World to send us 'pekelach' - Care Packages - of food, clothes, cigarettes or money. How we hoped and prayed, each and every day, that a package would arrive. Similarly, a departed soul, who can no longer perform mitzvahs, waits and hopes that a relative or friend will learn Torah or perform a mitzvah in its benefit."

I recently heard a recording of an interview with a ba'al teshuvah (a penitent person) who told scary stories of seances he and his friends would partake in before they became religious. Stressing that he didn't know then, nor would he have cared, that this is strictly forbidden according to the Torah, he relates his conversations with departed souls in order to teach us to believe wholeheartedly in Life after Death.

One of the most interesting things he tells is that they made contact with the father of one of their group who was suffering in Hell. The soul begged his son to attend the synagogue and recite the Kaddish for him. The son complied. The very next day, they failed to find the father's soul. When they asked a neighboring soul where it is, it replied that as soon as the son said just one Kaddish for his father, his soul was freed from its sufferings there and was elevated to a higher status!

How important, indeed, it is for us to help the dearly departed souls of our loved ones as best as we possibly can.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel