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Long IslandReligion

Asking the Clergy: How does your faith honor fathers?

The Rev. Henrietta Scott Fullard of Long Island

The Rev. Henrietta Scott Fullard of Long Island District, African Methodist Episcopal Churches, Panna Shah of Long Island Multi-Faith Forum and Rabbi Mendel Teldon of the Chabad of Mid-Suffolk. Photo Credit: African Methodist Episcopal Churches; Panna Shah; Tom Keller

Father’s Day is about more than greeting cards, neckties and restaurant reservations. It honors a figure revered by the world’s religions. This week’s clergy discuss how the faithful should celebrate the fathers among us.

The Rev. Henrietta Scott Fullard

Presiding elder, Long Island District, African Methodist Episcopal Churches

God has given the father the responsibility and the charge to create the generations to come. The father is charged with correcting the ills of the nation, the family and children. God has given fathers the responsibility to inherit land, property, goods, wealth and all the necessities for the care of the family.

Because fathers have such awesome responsibilities, God’s commandments include one that says, “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the earth which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12)

The honor goes to the father first, as Adam was the first created among humans. On this day, we honor fathers because it is God’s commandment to do so. Let us pause on Father’s Day, and on every day, to give them our utmost respect and honor. Even if they have not shouldered their responsibilities as fathers, we must still honor them. God has given fathers the responsibility to guide generations to eternity.

Panna Shah

Member, Long Island Multi-Faith Forum

Honoring your father means being respectful in word and action and having an inward attitude of esteem for their position. Pitru devo bhava is a Sanskrit phrase that Jains are taught that means “to consider your father as God.” That philosophically means to always obey your father, because he, along with your mother, has given you life.

As Jains, we honor fathers who show up, who love, who mentor and who care. One can have many fathers, who truly give them direction through life in a meaningful way. For Jains, the 24 Tirthankaras are saviors who succeeded in life’s stream of rebirths and have made a path for others to follow.

Mahavira in the sixth century BCE and Parshvanatha in the seventh and eight centuries BCE reformed the Jain religion being practiced today. For Jains in North America, such Jain scholars as Gurudev Chitrabhanu and Acharya Sushil Muni paved the way to promote the understanding and practice of Jainism. These scholars of a philosophy of life taught the true value of living and practicing Jainism in our new homeland in America. As his role evolves in our ever-changing world, a father remains a great source of achievement, pride and inspiration.

Rabbi Mendel Teldon

Chabad of Mid-Suffolk, Commack

Last Sunday marked the 3,331st anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. They were inscribed on twin tablets, five on each. One tablet had five commandments regarding the relationship between a person and God, and the second had five commandments for people with other people.

By putting the fifth commandment, "Honor your father and mother," on the first tablet even though it is a commandment between people, God is giving us a deeper understanding of this responsibility. In the procreation process, The Ultimate Designer gives the Godly ability to create something new to His two physical partners in this process, Mom and Dad.

In recognition of that, our respect for our parents should be on par with their third partner: God, hence it finds its place on Tablet No. 1. It’s interesting to note that there is no obligation to love your parents; every relationship is complicated, with myriad sensitivities and history.

While sometimes it is difficult and even impossible to love a parent, there is still an obligation to respect them. For instance, biblical respect means not calling your parents by their first name. The Tenth Commandment, “Do not be jealous,” reminds us that as long as we’re comparing our life, our childhood or our parents to someone else’s and wistful for the life that we think we should have had, we’re not fully accepting or living the one we are given today.

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS you’d like Newsday to ask the clergy? Email them to LILife@newsday.com. Find more LI Life stories at newsday.com/LILife.

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