Horav S.R. Hirsch, z.l., asserts that respect for parents and Shabbos observance are two critical factors in preparing one for a life of kedushah, holiness. Parents, as the progenitors of the next generation, serve as the repository of Jewish history and the transmittors of this tradition. In this capacity, they herald Hashem’s wishes and are His representatives here on earth. We are adjured here to fear and revere our parents. To accept parental authority, to revere them obediently, is a critical step in the discipline and temperance one needs in order to attain holiness.
Horav Hirsch takes note of the fact that respect for parents and Shabbos observance are mentioned side by side. This underscores the one restriction when a child must not obey his parents. One does not listen to parents who instruct him to desecrate Shabbos. This holds true regarding all mitzvos. Obedience to parents is paramount; Shabbos and mitzvos supersede even this obligation, for both the child and the parents are obligated to Hashem. This gives the Jewish national character its distinct imprimatur: respect for parents and observance of Shabbos. They represent a Jew’s priorities and the pillars upon which our relationship with Hashem maintains its endurance. Indeed, as Horav Hirsch notes, experience has taught us that if either one of these two pillars wavers, the other soon follows.