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ב"ה

A Mother’s Touch

Thursday, 31 January, 2013 - 4:00 pm

As a single parent for nearly a week, I recognize the challenges that my children must have without their mother home. My wife, Esther, is in New York for the annual Shluchos Conference. And I can only imagine the hardships that children and parents in single-parent families endure.

Yes, I cooked dinner last night. Yes, I ferried my children to school, basketball practice, and the library. Yes, I bathed the little ones.

In fact, I do all of those things frequently. But this week it’s just me. My children had their father perform all those tasks (err, privileges). The point is not how many responsibilities I completed. Rather, it’s the fact that my children only receive my masculine energy this week.

Usually they benefit from a duality of parental perspectives. At times, the fatherly figure is needed and at times, the motherly touch is necessary. But when I am Mr. Mom (or is it Rabbi Mom?), they get dad for everything.

One thing I have learned – I may perform the duties of a mother, but a mother I am not.

***

In this week’s parsha Yitro, the Almighty delivers the Torah to the Jewish people. When informing Moshe of the necessary preparations for revelation at Sinai, He says, “So shall you say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel.”

The Midrash explains that the verbiage is not redundant. The house of Jacob refers to the women. Say it to them in a gentle language. The sons of Israel concerns the men. Speak harshly to them and explain the punishments and the details.

We can all recognize that there is a different language required for men and women. And we can all agree etiquette demands that ladies go first.  But here, G-d is laying down the law. Shouldn’t the hard facts come before the mushy soft-speak? Don’t we want to make sure the message is loud and clear and only afterwards give some wiggle room?

***

Perhaps the Torah is teaching us the power of women. One should never mistake the soft-spoken words of a mother for weakness. Women come first not because they are weaker or less capable and need the extra appeasement. Women come first because that is how it ought to be, not to placate them. Indeed, G-d is laying down the law. And that law is digested in its full glory by the soft words spoken to or by a woman.

As for us gentlemen, that’s a different story altogether…

***

While I am enjoying my special bonding time with my kids, I know that their mother is irreplaceable.  Factor in her role in the community, and I am certain there are many others saluting her and all the Shluchos as they gather for a weekend of well-deserved inspiration, bonding and spiritual growth.

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