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The Power of Mitzvas Kibud Av V’Eim

A personal observation from Rabbi Manfred Gans, the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Machane Chodosh in Forest Hills, NY.

I personally know of the following incident that demonstrates the power of fulfilling the mitzvah of Kibud Av V’Eim that I would like to share. It was recounted to me directly by the person involved.

A successful, well run day camp had the usual hustle and bustle of activity at day’s end with buses lining up for children to board  after a busy day.  Along  comes a policeman who accosts the drivers yelling, “You’re holding up traffic! Move the buses, move the buses!  You’re  blocking the street!”

The operator of the day camp was alerted to the incident and advised  his drivers not to move. Words  were exchanged. The policeman who apparently was new on the beat and  compelled  to exercise his authority, made good on his threat. He handcuffed the operator and took him down to the police station for insubordination.

Upon arrival, the day camp operator asked the captain if he could make a phone call. He was granted the request and called his father. Not long thereafter his father arrives and presents himself to the police captain who escorted him to the detention room. When his father entered the room, the operator, a shomer Torah Umitzvos, stood up. The captain was taken aback. Startled, he asked the operator why he did it. When he explained that it was an expression of Mitzvas Kibud Av V’Eim, of respect for a parent, the captain was so impressed that he released him by saying “Anyone who so honors his father is incapable of breaking the law.”

Now I wouldn’t want to discount the notion that there may have been other mitigating circumstances that contributed to the operator’s ultimate release from the police station. But this is a true story as it was told to me. Fulfilling Mitzvas Kibud Av V’Eim was certainly a factor. The moral: The honoring of parents brings honor to them, as well as recognition and honor to oneself.

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