The phrase "עטרת ראשי" (ateres roshi == my head's crown) appears in many Hebrew texts to refer to respectable individuals. I heard in a shi'ur recently that it specifically refers to the father of the writer, and some Googling later, it seems to be used in Modern Hebrew discourse to refer to mothers as well.

The connection to respectability is clear, due simply to the meaning of the words, and possibly the phrase's appearance in parallel to "my honor" in the pasuk "כְּבוֹדִי מֵעָלַי הִפְשִׁיט וַיָּסַר עֲטֶרֶת רֹאשִׁי" (Iyov 19:9). But what is the connection to parents? It almost seems disrespectful to refer to one's parent as an object generally used to aggrandize oneself and one's own image.

  • 1
    Not at all clear that children-parenting is appropriate.
    – WAF
    Nov 27 '11 at 13:25
  • WAF, re your comment: meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/482
    – msh210
    Nov 27 '11 at 17:59
  • When you say you heard in a shiur that it refers specifically to the father, does that mean as a general rule for all cases where we find the words used or just in a specific case being discussed in the shiur?
    – jake
    Jan 18 '12 at 22:15
  • The former. Bonus chars.
    – WAF
    Jan 19 '12 at 4:01

The metaphor is used in Mishlei 17:6

עֲטֶרֶת זְקֵנִים, בְּנֵי בָנִים וְתִפְאֶרֶת בָּנִים אֲבוֹתָם

Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

I see it as a child's expression of how proud he is of his parent, rather than self-aggrandisement.

  • But עטרת ראשי is literally the crown (or whatever) on the child's head, not on the father's: the pasuk is turned around.
    – msh210
    Jan 18 '12 at 16:01
  • @msh210 That's not how I was reading the verse. "Grandparents pride themselves in their grandchildren and children pride themselves in their parents." You could ask why isn't parental nachas mentioned?... Jan 19 '12 at 7:11

Perhaps it's based on Lam. 5:16 (נפלה עטרת ראשנו). That would certainly be a complimentary comparison, likening one's parent to the Beis Hamikdash.

  • Does that even work? If ateres rosh is used as a metaphor for the Beis Hamikdash and also for a parent, does that mean that you are likening a parent to the Beis Hamikdash by using that metaphor? They are merely two branches on the same tree.
    – jake
    Jan 18 '12 at 22:13

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