Serving and honoring one’s parents with a positive attitude and a happy spirit

* This article is an excerpt from the above Sefer

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Serving and honoring one’s parents with a positive attitude and a happy spirit:[1]

One is to serve his parents with a positive and happy attitude [i.e., Sever Panim Yafos]. One who serves and honors their parents with a negative attitude [i.e., Panim Zoafos] is [not considered to have fulfilled the mitzvah of honoring his parents at all[2] and is] punished for doing so [as serving them in such a manner causes pain to the parent[3]]. This applies even if he provides them with the best of foods [i.e., Petumos/Pisyonim], nonetheless if he does so with a negative attitude he is punished. However, in contrast to the above, if one shows a positive attitude and has good intentions, then he gets reward, even if the service itself appears negative, as explained next.[4] [Thus, the main thing is not the quality of the service, but the attitude and intent of the child. Based on this it is understood that the attitude one has while attending to his father and mother and the way he speaks to them is of the essence of the mitzvah of honoring them.]

Greeting one’s parents:[5] Upon the arrival of one’s parents, one should greet them with a smile and happy countenance make them feel welcome and at home.

Serving them with honor and dignity:[6] Based on the above, one must be careful to serve his parents in an honorable and dignified manner and everything that he does on their behalf  should be done in a way of respect.

Running to fulfill their wishes:[7] When a parent asks one to do something on their behalf it is a mitzvah to perform the deed with alacrity.


[1] Michaber 240:4; Avimai Breih Derebbe Avahu in Kiddushin 31b “Avimi, the son of Rebbe Avahu taught: It is possible for one to feed his father the best poultry meat [i.e. Petumos] and nonetheless be punished, and on the other hand it is possible for one to force one’s father to work in a flour mill and be rewarded with the world to come [if he does it with a good spirit and for good intents-Rashi].”; Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:7; Rabbeinu Yona end of Igeres Hateshuva; Rabbeinu Yerucham 1:4; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:17; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 381-382

[2] Rabbeinu Yerucham Nesiv 1:4; Meiri Kiddushin 31b; See Michaber 249:3 regarding charity that he is lost out of the mitzvah

[3] Likkutei Sichos 19:197 printed in Shulchan Menachem 4:173 footnote 4

[4] Rama ibid

[5] Menoras Hamaor 9:4; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 380

[6] Sefer Hayirah of Rabbeinu Yona 94

[7] Chareidim 12 Asei 4:1 and 18:6-1; Midrash Raba Naso 14:11 regarding Naftali; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 382

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