Mother's Day - Mother's Role
As most of us know, “In the beginning” the Lord created the heavens and the earth. There is no mention - and now we’re on verse 2 of Genesis - of Motherhood. Not a word. He hasn’t thought of it yet. He has barely opened the cupboard of creation.
But now the Creator continues his work. You think concepts like heaven and earth are easy? First you need dry land. Bam - He does it in verse 9. Dry land appears. Then the sun and moon and stars and sea.
Still, no mention of motherhood.
But the inventor of the Universe is on a roll - quickly all the creatures tumble out of His mind onto the land and the sea and the air. Then, as the Grand Finale, He produces man.
But sadly, still not a word about that invention that allows the perpetuation of the species: motherhood. He has made rain for the thirsty life forms. He has made the sun to warm their bones. He has even told man that the plants and beasts shall be salads and rib roasts for his supper table. Food. But no motherhood.
He even creates Eve; the bone of Adam’s bone and the flesh of his flesh.
OK, we think. We know why SHE’S there. He’s getting closer to the machinery we need to repeople the planet, our playground. But, it is not to be - not yet. “And the man knew his wife,” says the Book. Thus Cain was born. Why doesn’t He now tell us in these first pages of the Book of Life about Eve’s love and nurturing: that she comforted, sustained the creature that originated in the flesh of her flesh and the bone of her bone? Even we humans can see that birth is only half a solution. Birth without nurturing is like dawn without light.
And the brat, Cain, who in case you haven’t read chapter 4 of Genesis, turns out badly - needs attention. (Let me give away the plot and tell you he turns out to be a terrible disappointment to his mama.)
Only after the Fall, after the realization that man may be made in “his image”, but is not a replica of His ethical goodness does the molder of the universe understand what’s missing. He left something out - the missing ingredient in the planetary soup - Motherhood. Only after He notices that the world’s first honeymooners are self-derving and rebellious, does He remember. Oh - Motherhood - I forgot that.
Genesis tells us that “the man called his wife; Eve,” Chavah, a Hebrew word whose root means “life”. (How appropriate. She IS the root of life.) “She was the MOTHER of all the living,” says the Book of Books.
Now the creator, whose meditation made the world, sees that man has some instincts in common with the beasts. At heart, without the tending of a mother, man is as wild and high-strung as the wolves that prowl the woods. Man needs - if the species is going to survive - tending and mending. He needs a soul superior to the beasts, so there’s gotta be motherhood to nurture and instruct him.
That’s why, later in his book He introduces the great biblical mothers: first, Sarah, who is worried that Isaac, HER son, must compete with the son of Hagar, a concubine. Boldly, she defends the flesh of her flesh. She banishes Hagar. And let’s be evenhanded and note that Hagar - the mother of Ismael, progenitor of all Arabs - is also a great mama. That’s why the Lord saves her unruly child. “He shall be a wild donkey of a man,” Genesis tells us.
And there’s Rebecca, who connives with, and for, her son to gain the inheritance of Isaac.
Fifty generations later we meet Bathsheva, David’s fascination you remember. Bathsheva, the beauty who evidently missed most of her Sunday School sessions (not a great wife to husband No. 1, Uriah the Hittite) but turns out to be a supermom to David’s son, Solomon.
So, He who inspired the Book of Books, our Tanach, finally created and praised the rapturously giving, glowing instinct we call Motherhood. Without it, our universe would be an immensely silent, empty heaven and earth.
On May 9, tell your mother you understand and appreciate her contribution. Take her out for lunch, buy her a flower. She gave you life, you know.