Torah Portion: Yisro
Honor your father and mother. You will then live long on the land that Hashem, your God is giving you (Shemos 20:12).
It is a positive commandment to honor one’s father and mother, as it is written, Honor your father and mother. Our Sages explain that to “honor” them includes to feed and give them drink, to clothe and cover them, and to escort them [i.e., to attend to all their needs].
Among the roots of this commandment: It is fitting for a man to acknowledge and treat with loving-kindness the person who treated him with goodness, and he should not be a knave, an ingrate who acts like a stranger [to him] — for this is an evil trait, utterly contemptible before God and mankind. [The mitzvah] also helps the person internalize that it his father and mother who are the cause of his being in the world, and therefore it is truly proper for him to give them every honor and every benefit that he can, since they brought him into the world. Plus, they labored through many troubles over him in his early years.
Once this trait is becomes firmly part of one’s character, the person rises from this to recognize the goodness of God, blessed is He, who is the primary Cause of his existence and the existence of all his forebears, back to Adam, the first man. And [he will realize] that it was He Who brought him forth into the world, provided for his needs all his days [on earth], arranged his body perfectly with all his limbs, and gave him a cognitive and intelligent spirit — and if not for this spirit with which God endowed him, he would be no different than an animal without understanding. Then let him reckon in his mind how very, very right it is for him to take care about serving and worshipping Him, be He blessed.
This mitzvah applies in all places and at all times to men and also to women, whenever they (women) are in position to do so. One who transgresses this, violates a positive commandment, and his punishment is very grave, for it is as though he turns his back to his Father in Heaven.