Of flag and family

A few years ago I was visiting with my mother A”H in Jerusalem around a week after Pesach.  We were sitting on the porch and she began rummaging through a closet nearby.  I asked, “What are you looking for”? Her reply, “The flag, it’s Iyar, we have to hang the flag up”.

She eventually found the flag with some kind of ‘accessory’ for attaching it which she had probably sewn years prior for something or other.  It seemed that it survived all these years for this purpose alone.  Knowing my mother it was clear that no piece of fabric goes to waste.

Assuming that it was an effort for her, I offered to hang up the flag and began to do so.  But she didn’t let up.  When I placed it down for a second to move a potted plant she grabbed the flag, and with lightning speed characteristic of her movements in better days gone by,  she quickly and efficiently hung up the flag.

All I could do was take a step back and watch.

That’s when I saw the full picture.

Had she relented and not insisted on doing it herself I would have missed the precious picture that says a thousand words:

Between Yom Hashoa and Yom Haatzmaut, a 90-year-old holocaust survivor is hanging the Israeli flag on her porch in Yerushalayim.

Only three words passed through my mind-

Am Yisrael Chai.

What I described above transpired 10 years ago.  I eventually published it in my blog in the Times of Israel.  I cherish this memory and make it my business to reread it every year; and every time I learn something new from the experience.  This year left me with food for thought regarding our relationship with our parents.

As children we are inclined to think that we know better than our parents.  As we age and our parents grow older it becomes even more pronounced. 

But it’s an illusion.

They know what’s better, especially what’s better for them.  So even if we have good intentions, taking a step back and giving them space and the place that they deserve is the way to go.  Taking that step back gives a new outlook and viewpoint.  We can then see them through a ‘lense’ of respect and honor that they so deserve.  

They deserve it simply because they’re our parents.  Honoring them is a privilege, not a burden; and keeping that in mind makes it all the more doable.  Honoring parents is one of the few mitzvot accompanied with a promised reward; but actually the fundamental reward is attained by placing ourselves in the appropriate status in the relationship, that of the child. That’s where we belong, and that’s what gives the ultimate feeling of belonging and connection. 

That’s the key to ‘Am Yisrael Chai’- honoring our parents and their legacy. We wouldn’t  be here without it.

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