Sunday, May 08, 2005


Wow, time does fly ... six years since The Downeast Coastal invited me to write the feature article for Mother’s Day: “My Two Mom’s: A Special Mother’s Day Story”. Yep, two fantastic mom’s – a real mitzvah.

Mitzvah is a strange, very meaningful, Judaic term – especially in the context of Mother’s Day. In one sense, it denotes an act good manners deemed pleasing to the deity. In another it is an act of kindness, or obedience to any of the 248 “do’s, or 365 “don’t’s” embodied in Talmudic law.

In 40 BC, Hillel was asked summarized the 613 in a sentence. He response: "What you don't like, don't do to your neighbor – the rest is explanation.”

When know that Paul studied with Gamaliel (Hillel’s grandson and defender of the Apostles); it is reasonable that Jesus, who was about 15 when Hillel died, studied with a master whose teachings he quoted so often.

All three men were drawing on ancient knowledge and principle – we know Talmudic teachings were consolidated during the Babylon exile (587-539BCE); in China, Confucius (551-479BCE) espoused the same knowledge. A universal Mother’s Day lesson – treat your mom the way you want to be treated. The sub-text, “honor your mother and father” as they should honor you.

The Mitzvah? The gift or blessing which yielded two mom’s? Easy – I’m adopted. One very fine woman gave of herself to another equally fine woman. I recall the story of Solomon and the two women claiming to be mother to an infant. Wisdom served as DNA – a “true” mother was willing to forfeit her claim so that the child might live.

Parental love, in one form, surrenders of the body, in another form accepts into the heart. Both sides create the blessing – it is a Mitzvah. You are not blessed by mechanical ritual or words in an alien tongue. You are blessed from the sacrifices of your own heart, or the hearts of others.

Mother’s Day – the quiet blessing of life, love, devotion, and sacrifice. I was doubly blessed – I had two mothers, two wonderful women, and I was fortunate enough to see them together before they passed. But the mitzvah can be in any loving home – be it birth, adoption or foster.

Anyone can use words; so it is their deeds by which you should judge them – it is the deed which is a gift; from that gift the blessing flows. The Mitzvot – multiple mitzvah points scored, blessing received and given – are words in a book: “Care for the least of my people and you care for me.”

What is as least as a child? Two lovely women – tangible, straight-up instruction in accumulating mitzvot (many blessings). It is a blessing to receive a child; a blessing to give a child a home, or better life.

A blessing – protect the parents of children in distant lands, so that they might survive to protect their children. Allow them a mitzvah opportunity; add mitzvot to your Judgement Day account.

Deny a child family, deprive them of parental contact – through greed, or arrogance, launch wars, murder innocents, create orphans, or tolerate those who do; and mitzvot are withdrawn from your salvation day account. Each deceit or deception which results in death reduces mitzvot.

Given with love, and accepted with grace, or humility, mitzvah become the basic, and extra credit, points of life – bestowing benefit on both the giver and the receiver. My parents saw adoption as dual act of love, not a secret to be hidden. Mom said, “Wanted” and “Loved.”

Pop quiz! For a bonus Mitzvah point: Which mom said, “‘Wanted’ and ‘Loved’”? A) Adopted, B) Birth, C) Both. The answer? If, without thinking, you got it right, your family knows it.

We are all children, we are recipients of the gift of life and unconditional love – Mother’s Day is when we acknowledge this and tell mom (in person or prayer) we appreciate the blessing and gift.
To all Mothers, your very act of being is a Mitzvah. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

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