He was just elected to the Israeli parliament and when he greeted his mother he bent down to kiss his mother’s feet. This image went crazy viral.
Why is the video of new Knesset member Gadi Yevarkan kissing his mother’s feet so moving?
Why, after a full day of ceremonies and speeches honoring the opening of the newest session of the Knesset, is this photograph especially seared into our memory? In the photograph you see a lawyer, a Knesset member, wearing a suit, kissing the feet of his elderly mother who is holding a stick and dressed in traditional Ethiopian garb. At the gates of the Knesset, Gadi did something that is not connected to political parties or legislation, but rather to spirit, culture, values, tradition. It’s true, most of us don’t kiss our parents’ feet like that, and that’s not exactly what must be learned from this photograph. In this era of crumbling boundaries and defiance of authority, the main message this photograph sends is this: we shouldn’t forget where we came from. We shouldn’t be ashamed of our roots, of our ethnic traditions. We owe a big thank you to the previous generation (as Gadi said yesterday: “All of this is thanks to my mother.”) Gadi is reminding us to behave towards the traditions of previous generations with humility rather than arrogance, with love rather than embarrassment. To speak not only about children’s rights, but also about children’s responsibilities.
“Be holy,” these are the words that open this week’s Torah portion, and what follows after is a series of instructions explaining how to attain that holiness we yearn for. Among others, these instructions include: “Every man should have awe for his mother and father,” “Rise up in the presence of a person with gray hair,” and “Show respect for the old.” It turns out that the way to the holiness, first of all, passes by way of our relationship to those who came before us.