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Cantor's Message

Cantor Moses' weekly email message for May 10.

IN Joy Shabbat! (5/10/18)

As much as I love leading Shabbat morning services, every Saturday morning I leave my house with a heavy heart yearning to stay with my husband and sons who are usually sitting around the breakfast table engaging in "parasha time." "Parsha (otherwise known as the Torah portion of the week) time" is the time of the week that my family sits around a table laden with cereal and fruit, coffee and juice surrounded by the five books of Moses and Torah commentaries from great scholars and Rabbis.  

They talk about our mythical stories, raise questions about our matriarchs and patriarchs and lately have been studying Torah commentary from Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known by the acronym Rashi. Rashi was a medieval French Rabbi and author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud and commentary on the Tanakh,  (another acronym for the books of the Torah, Nevi'im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).

Just last Shabbat, they were discussing a "machlochet," otherwise known as an argument or disagreement between Rabbis, regarding the mitzvah of honoring one's mother and father. Just like the great Rabbis in the Talmud, my husband and children were arguing over the issue of which parent it is more important to honor! This was clearly a perfect time for me to take my last sip of tea, give Shabbat kisses and walk out the door. 

The commandment of honoring our parents is found in more than one place in the Torah. In the Ten Commandments it mentions the father first as in, "honor your father and your mother," with the use of the verb, "kavod", translated as honor and respect. However, in the portion of Kedoshim in the book of Leviticus, the mitzvah is mentioned again but places the mother first, with the use of the verb "tir'u"  from the root of of the word "yirah" meaning awe or fear. Why were there different juxtapositions of mother and father and different words used such as respect and awe? 

In discovering the rationale for this difference, we learned that Rashi believed that both mothers and fathers were of equal importance to honor with respect, awe, and reverence. However, Rashi essentially says that a child will naturally fear his father more than his mother, as a mother wins a child's favor by speaking more kind and loving words, and thereby mentioning the father in the first context of honor, the scripture emphasized the duty of honoring him as well, not only ruled by fear. 

Another reason was because the Torah was clearly written at a time when there were distinct  roles that fathers and mothers played in the lives of their children, such as fathers being responsible for the circumcisions of their own sons or to find them brides! 

Thank goodness we don't live in a world where certain roles and expectations are meant for only fathers or only for mothers, with the exception of birthing and nursing!  On the contrary, standing side by side as equal parents we are commanded to love our children by giving them the very same honor, respect, awe and reverence to them as we only hope to receive from them, equally. 

All that being said, I encourage and give permission to bring special attention and put "mothers" first, to treat them with special respect and awe for perhaps this one Shabbat weekend, as we honor all of the mothers in our lives celebrating Mother's Day. One of the few women who are named and quoted in the Talmud in the first century is Ima Shalom,  a name that literally means "Mother of Peace." May we all be blessed to give our mothers some well deserved shalom, love, honor and reverence this Shabbat. 

May we thank our mothers with reverence and  "IN" joy, and "IN" joy all things that give us a peaceful shabbat. 
Shabbat Shalom! 
Cantor Bat-Ami Moses

Wed, May 23 2018 9 Sivan 5778