In some families, dinner time is a helter-skelter affair where everyone grabs what they want on their way to their next event. In other families, dinner is a set time when everyone gathers together and shares a meal.
No matter what your family’s mealtimes look like, one custom that seems universal is dad or mom’s seat. While it may seem logical that the father or the mother sit at the head of the table, there is actually a Torah ruling concerning the status of the parental seat.
Everyone is familiar with the Fifth Commandment to honor one's father and mother. But just how are children expected to show honor to their parents?
One way is by not sitting in a parent’s designated chair without his or her permission. A seat at the head of the table or a parent’s special chair in the living room is one way to honor parents, who work hard to support the family and run the household. Be it a rocking chair or a lazyboy, mom and dad deserve that special seat.
The laws of honoring our parents are surprisingly broad. They range from the obvious, like helping them when they are sick, to the subtle, such as standing up when a parent walks into the room. It is even considered a breach of honor for a child to call or refer to a parent by the parent’s first name.
So next time the dinner bell rings in your family, Goldilocks, remember it’s not just papa and mama bear who have designated seats.