On November 18, 2015, I wrote a blog to honor my mother in life. She turned 96 this past November (to 120). Today is the 20th urtzeit of my father (Z”L), Joseph Jacobovici. Today, I write to honor his memory.
On his tombstone is my father’s army dog-tag number 75668. My father took the ship the Pan Crescent from Romania after the war to make Aliyah. The ship was rerouted by the British. My father ended up in a Cyprus detention camp from which he escaped and reached Israel to fight in the 1948 War of Independence.
Our family gathered around his grave site at the cemetery, with his second-oldest granddaughter in uniform.
Thinking of who my father was, I had to smile because, of course he wouldn’t have expected anything less than his family honoring his memory on the day of his passing, but because he used to say he didn’t believe in urzeit. He used to say that it is was there for people who didn’t think of or honor their loved ones during the year and wouldn’t do anything if it weren’t for the obligation to do so on the urzeit.
So in honor of my father I say, “Aba, not one day passes when I don’t think of you.”
The 5th Commandment
I wish I knew more about the order of the Ten Commandments but in my simplicity, I am not surprised that the commandment to honor our parents is number 5, a positive commandment and the first commandment related only to man after the first 4 commandments related to Hashem.
We are not instructed to love our parents. We are instructed to honor. I think the only connection to do so is related to the fact that our parents gave us life. Hashem created us, breathed our soul into our nostrils but after the expulsion, our parents gave us life.
We are not instructed to look at the quality of life we received from our parents and then decide whether or not they deserve to be honored. We are clearly instructed to honor.
So in a way, my father was right. If we take into consideration subjective experiences, everyone would take it upon themselves to decide whether or not to honor their parents. So the commandment is there for those who wouldn’t consider doing so to do it anyway because, whether we like it or not, they gave us life. And in this way at least honor the fact that we are in this world as a result of them.
I am one of the lucky ones. I am grateful to my father for not only giving me life but for the kind of life, for the teaching and for the love.
I invite you to watch the documentary that my brother made of the Romanian Holocaust and the story of our father.