I've asked a lot of questions about the seemingly inferior position of the Mitzvas of honoring parents in Judaism despite its importance, and this is another one:

The Torah clearly annexes being Kadosh and honoring (revering from) the parents (Lev 19:1):

קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי ה"א׃ ...
אישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ ...׃

...You shall be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy. You shall each revere his mother and his father...

Different interpreters explain the concept of being holy differently (for instance, withholding from adultery - " הֱווּ פְרוּשִׁים מִן הָעֲרָיוֹת וּמִן הָעֲבֵרָה," Rashi) but I didn't see anyone defining the evident link between being Kadosh and revering one's parents.

Are there any prominent interpreters that do see the connection, and if there aren't any, why is that so?

  • @JoelK Thank you, that's the closest one. It does not, however, say that by physical honoring one's parents one Zoche to become Kadosh. I don't understand how it works by OH"C - if you feel an urge you picture your father and immediately repent? What about your mother?
    – Al Berko
    May 5, 2019 at 16:10

3 Answers 3


If you use Rabbi Micha Berger's approach in his Sefer Widen your Tent, then you will have an answer.

If I can paraphrase it correctly (I doubt that I can):

Kedusha is dedication, specifically -- when referring to Hashem -- dedication to bestowing goodness.

So, to answer your question:

קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ - become people dedicated to bestowing goodness on others

כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי - for I am dedicated to bestowing goodness on others (as this is the purpose for which I created the world)


  • Rever your parents; it makes them feel good to be appreciated and honored - especially after all the dedicated kindness they did for you as a kid.

Same for Arayot, which you refer to:

  • Don't cheat on your wife; that's extremely unkind. That takes care of most Arayot, at some level.
  • Let's take it one by one: 1. Kedusha is dedication - where from? 2. dedication to bestowing goodness - contradicts פרושים מעריות ועבירות - cause it's about סור מרע and not עשה טוב. Also 4. Does it mean one who revers his parents can be called Kadosh? Never heard of.
    – Al Berko
    May 5, 2019 at 14:39
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    @AlBerko, R Shimon's definition of Qedushah is something like consecration. Someone who dedicates their life to be of benefit to others is qadosh. You skipped over the dedication part of the answer. Rav Shimon addresses your question about the medrash and Ramban on perishus. He argues that it is impossible for this to be the definition of Qedushah because of the end of the pasuq "ki Qadosh Ani". What would G-d need separation from? Rather, for humans, the path to being consecrated for one goal is to separate from those things that you are likely to turn into distracting goals.... Mar 7, 2022 at 20:16
  • 1
    ... the mitzvah of becoming holy is very cenrtally about separation. But any definition of holiness itself couldn't be based on separation if it is in emulation of Hashem's Qedushah. Mar 7, 2022 at 20:17

The Alshich makes a nice link.

He writes:

איש אמו ואביו תיראו וכו'. הנה צויתי תהיו קדושים להביאכם לחיי העה"ב והנה אביכם ואמכם הביאו אתכם לעולם הזה כי הם נתנו החומר עם כל זה אם לא באתם על ידם אל העולם הזה לא הייתם זוכים לעולם הבא.

You shall each revere his mother and his father - Behold the command that you shall be holy is to bring you to Olam Habo (the Next World) and your father and your mother bring you to Olam HaZeh (this world), i.e. they give you the means/materials with all of this (i.e. how to live a Jewish life etc.). If you don't come through their hands to Olam HaZeh you will not merit Olam Habo.

The implication is that parents raise a child in a way that gives them the tools to live a Jewish life. Through their training of Mitzvos and middos a child builds a firm foundation. It is only through their nurturing and care that one arrives at a state of קדושים תהיו, an exulted state of holiness with which one is right for Olam Habo.


The Ohr Hachayim explains that honoring one's parents helps one withstand temptation, and that giving into temptation embarrasses one's parents.

"Each one of you shall fear his mother and father." The reason the Torah wrote this commandment next to the commandment to be holy is also related to the legislation about forbidden sexual unions. Our sages in Sotah 36 interpret Genesis 49,24: "and his arms were made firm by the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob" as a reference to how his father's image helped save Joseph from the temptation he experienced at the hands of the wife of Potiphar. At the critical moment, when Mrs Potiphar grabbed hold of Joseph's tunic, he saw a vision of his father's face outside the window. This caused him to resist the advances of Mrs Potiphar and to leave the tunic in her hand and flee her presence. According to the Talmud, Joseph's semen escaped via his hands instead of via his male organ, etc. I have heard it said in the name of Kabbalists (Kav Hayashar chapter 2) that the image of one's father's face strengthens the forces of sanctity within his son and helps him resist becoming a victim to temptation involving sexual abominations. The reason the Torah speaks about "his mother and his father you shall fear," at this juncture close to chapter 18 is that anyone in the throes of carnal temptation should summon up the image of his parents before his eyes. He will find that this will help him resist the temptation. 2We also have a hint here that if someone indulges in forbidden sex he shames the honour of his father. This is why the Torah wrote the commandment to fear mother and father so close to the legislation dealing with fordidden sex. In other words, indulgence in forbidden sex is equivalent to a violation of the commandment to fear one's mother and father. The parents would curse a son who commits such an act because they feel ashamed to have brought such a son into the world. This is also the reason the mother is mentioned here first as she feels the shame more deeply than her husband. Solomon explained this in Proverbs 10,1 when he wrote: "and a foolish son is his mother's sorrow."

  • See @JoelK's comment above....
    – Dov
    Sep 27, 2020 at 8:44

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