By JOSEPH H. PROUSER
Parshat Kedoshim, the weekly Torah Portion to be read on the eve of Mothers Day 2019, includes Leviticus 19:3 – “You shall each revere your mother and father.” Ibn Ezra explains the order in which our parents are here mentioned as signifying that the bond between infant and mother is our very first human relationship… preceding even the ability to recognize one’s father.
From our mothers we first learn safety and love, selflessness and empathy, compassion and care. Perhaps this explains the custom of invoking a patient’s mother’s name when offering a Misheberach – a prayer for renewed strength and restoration of good health – e.g., Yitzchak ben Sarah. Chassidic tradition similarly prescribes use of one’s mother’s name when seeking the blessing of a Tzaddik or Rabbi – a fitting homage to the countless, sacred lessons imparted by our mothers. Or as American poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote:
We search the world for truth; we cull
The good, the pure, the beautiful,
From graven stone and written scroll.
And all old flower-fields of the soul
And, weary seekers of the best,
We come back laden from the quest,
To find that all the sages said
Is in the Book our mothers read.
What a blessing!
(Rabbi Joseph H. Prouser is the rabbi of Temple Emanuel of North Jersey and the National Chaplain of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.)