Reclaiming the Torah of the Mother | Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita


Reclaiming the Torah of the Mother

By Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

Many of you reading this will be preparing for your annual vacation, tasting the sense of freedom even as you pack your bags. Jews are notorious when it comes to they’re packing prowess; we just take too much with us and end up schlepping around kilos of baggage that we will never need. We feel uncomfortable leaving anything behind, so extra shoes and hats are shoved into bags already stretched beyond capacity. The wandering Yied cant be found wanting for anything; if it were possible, Bubby would take her own kitchen with her.

There is another sort of baggage we carry as well, one that we would prefer to leave behind but cant. Our young are in trouble, and that which causes them pain goes with them wherever they travel. The unfulfilled child doesn’t leave his insecurities at home, nor can he bury the sadness that resides in his heart.

I know I am touching on a subject which I have visited many times in this column, but in my heart of hearts I truly believe this may touch on the key to today’s Golus.

I have wracked my brains many a time to figure out what is at the base of all this baggage, what nugget of spiritual energy is missing in so many lives. You may say I am overreacting and that the situation isn’t all that dire. For those who bask in the land of complacency, I invite them to drive along with me into any heimishe community and look into the eyes of those children who are out on the street, bored, angry and often aggressive. Those youngsters are ours; we have a stake in every neshoma that Hashem has entrusted to us. It would be a disaster if we were speaking of just a minuscule minority, but tragically the numbers are rising.

So where can we begin? How do we find some sort of life-giving elixir that will bring the glint back into the eyes of our sweet and holy children?

Our seforim tell us the the kernel of uniqueness that sets humans apart from other creatures is the natural need to aspire for more. Only humans have a rotzon, a will to obtain something, to grow.

Chickens don’t dream of becoming ducks, (despite that which Walt Disney wants us to believe) nor do horses crave to be cows. Every other creature just accepts what it is; there is never a sense of wanting or aspiring for more.

Humans, on the other hand, are gifted with a drive to reach for the extra, and this can be used for good or, chas vesholom, for bad.

The Hebrew word for the original man is Odom, which is an anagram of the word meod, more.

Thus we see that rotzon was the defining element of the human being from the first moment that he set foot on this earth.

Our Tzaddikim explain that the essence of rotzon is found in women.  The word rotzon has the same numerical value as the word mekor, which means source.  It is also used by Chazal to describe the place from where a woman gives birth.

Rotzon therefore, derives from the source of life, the mother. A perfect example of this is the name which Rochel gave her first-born son. The matriarch had struggled for years until finally her prayers were answered and a boy was born. What is her response? Call him Yosef, because I want another!

Kedusha is found in the soul that wants more attachment to Hashem, and this has always been the unique provenance of our holy mothers. Shlomo Hamelech counsels us: Listen my son to the mussar of your father and don’t neglect the Torah of your mother.What specifically is this Toras Imecha, mothers Torah? We haven’t seen it in any Seminary brochure, nor advertised in a Beis Yaakov.  It is simply this rotzon! It is our holy mothers who have throughout the generations transmitted the will to be a Yied. Even when spouses are depressed and feeling lost, it is the wife who can bring hope.

Chazal tell us: isha keshaira osa lerotzon baaloh, the good wife is one who does the will of her husband. Read literally this doesn’t sound all that politically correct! I wouldn’t advice a bochur to mention it on a shidduch, for example!

The Sfas Emes explains the statement differently, telling us that a good wife is one who makes the rotzon of her husband. When things are difficult, it is she who can create the sense of hope for the husband.

With this we may be able to begin to see some light in terms of our present situation. Society has turned our heads away from the spiritual; we have lost the gift of rotzon in our lives. We have so much, yet it is obvious we have so little. We just don’t yearn for more kedusha; we are in a rut and it shows in our children’s lack of aspirations.

Everything today comes packaged and mass produced. I am certain someone will soon publish a siddur that has pre-shed tears on every page and the siddur will come with a good hechsher.

Toras Imecha isn’t something that can be taught in school; it must be experienced. We must allow the holy mothers of Klal Yisroel to regain their essence, and foster Toras Imecha in our young.

So much is working against this simple need nowadays, and thats why it is so important to regenerate it. The moments a mother spends singing to her child, saying Krias Shema and listening to his or her woes are priceless. A mothers caress, her tears, this is the stuff of Toras Imecha, and it is where it all began.