When Yoseph names his first son Menashe, the Torah tells us that it was as a reminder that Hashem had "caused him to forget his father" (Genesis 41:51). Usually, when a name is given in the Torah, it is an expression of thanks to G-d; here it seems that the name signals a negative emotion, the forgetting of a parent.

Chazal tell us that, in truth, Yoseph lamented the fact that he could not fulfill the mitzvah of honoring one's parents all the time he was in Egypt. He named his child Menashe, meaning Hashem "caused me to forget," to remind himself of Yaakov, even though Hashem had filled his mind with other thoughts to alleviate his guilt at not fulfilling one of the core mitzvos in Yidishkeit. In other words, Yoseph regretted that he could not give his father the proper kavod, when they were so far apart . He felt bad that he could not take care of Yaakov in his old age, that he could not serve him and provide him with all kinds of attention, that he could not stand up for him when he entered the room. Therefore, the naming of his child Menashe was an occasion to give honor to his father, albeit indirectly.

What this passage reminds us of is our tremendous obligation to serve our parents whenever we have the possibility to do so. We do not have to wait until they get older. We can do it now. Every Friday night, and, for that matter, at every meal that is served in one's house, we can do our utmost to serve our parents by helping set the table, by cleaning it up, by taking out the rubbish, by speaking to our parents in a respectful way, by always smiling when we speak to them and never addressing them in a raised tone of voice.

The reality is that, in all likelihood, we will outlive our parents and will not be able to fulfill this mitzvah during a good part of our adult years. Therefore, we should not lose the opportunity each and every day to do whatever we can to fulfill this important mitzvah for which the Torah tells us the specific reward is long life.

Let us not be casual on how we relate to our parents. Rather let us be diligent in doing the mitzvah of honoring our parents, for by doing so we bring great benefits not only to them, but to ourselves as well.

Good Shabbos and Chanuaka Sameach!

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