“Mothers love and mothers hold
Mothers shape the world we know, mama, ima, mama
Mothers worry mothers feel
Mothers know too well what’s real, mama, ima, mama
And these are the things our mothers teach us…”
-“Limdu Heiteiv” by Beth Schafer (WRJ’s Centennial Anthem)
So begins the beautiful WRJ Centennial Anthem, written by an amazingly talented musician, Beth Schafer. Many congregations heard this song at their own sisterhood Shabbat services, as part of WRJ’s Centennial Celebration.
The fourth commandment directs us to honor one’s father and mother. What does that mean? This may be an easy question to answer if one grew up in an “Ozzie and Harriet” household or even a “Huxtable” one. Somehow, the mother (or father) always seemed to have the right answer or the perfect solution to the dilemma of the day. And, as the lights went off at night, everyone hugged, kissed, and said, “good night.” In reality, however, very few of us had that kind of experience. Regardless of our own realities, we trust that our own parents did the very best that they could – without screenwriters to write their dialogue or directors to dictate their responses.
Maybe the best way we can honor our parents is to do just that – our very best. We will make mistakes, but they are honest mistakes. Children do not come with instruction kits. Each child is different, and requires different handling. There is no one-size-fits-all method of child-rearing. Looking to our foremothers, we get a mixed bag. Sarah, who gave birth to Isaac late in life, appears to have created a very strong, loving bond with her son. Rebecca, however, turned one son against the other, leading to deception and a lifelong feud. Sisters Rachel and Leah bore many of the children of Jacob, some of whom committed unspeakable acts; while others went on to lead the Jewish people to greatness.
Some mothers foster an interest in the performing arts or fine arts. Other mothers encourage their children in athletic endeavors. Some mothers teach their children to prepare the appropriate foods related to Jewish holidays. Mostly, though, mothers try to prepare their children for life – giving them the tools they need to become productive citizens of the world.
It is said that all flowers bloom in their own time and so it is with our own children. We can only give them their start, help nourish them as they grow, and then step back so that the sun can shine on them and help them flourish.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Take a moment to thank your mother for all that she gave you. For some of us, this means picking up the phone, for others it means taking a quiet moment to send loving thoughts to one who is no longer here.