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R. Avraham of Sochatchov

R. Avraham of Sochatchov, autthor of Avnei Nezer, was a child prodigy. He was so brilliant he had to be taught by his own father, since he had surpassed all the teachers of his town of Biala in learning.

Once the father and son were studying, and R. Avraham answered a question immediately upon being asked. His father answered that R. Avraham was incorrect, and said another answer. Then he slapped R. Avraham, and said that he shouldn't answer his elders without thinking.

After many years, R. Avraham visited his father, who was old.

"My son," said the father, "Remember long ago we were learning and I asked you a difficult question, and I was sure it would take a long time for you to answer. You answered immediately, and I slapped you... I confess that I studied the topic and found that you were correct, but I didn't want to tell you. I was afraid you would become arrogant. I want to apologize for hitting you; do you forgive me?"

R. Avraham replied, "Father, I knew then that I had the right answer. I didn't want to contradict your words. And I forgave you right away for the slap."

The laws of honoring one's parents are interesting, diverse, and challenging. At the heart of the commandment, according to R. Chaim Shmuelevitz, is the following concept (Sichos Mussar 5731:22):

"I have an oral tradition that one does not properly fulfill the mitzvah of honoring his father unless he develops an inordinate respect and even hero worship of his father. One must discover in his father positive qualities in areas where his father shines and in which he might be considered on of the generation's greatest men. If one does not revere and value his father in his heart and soul, he has not fulfilled the mitzvah even if he feeds his father, gives him to drink, and displays other signs of respect."

- adapted from The Fifth Commandment by R. Moshe Lieber

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