Headlines »

May 25, 2024 – 10:48 pm | Comments Off on The Real You22 views

Michelangelo once said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
The essence of every Jew is a beautiful perfect soul. It is unmarred by ego, immaturity, insecurity, obsession, or any other form of human weakness. This beautiful soul, more pristine than the angel in …

Read the full story »
Parsha Insights

Where Biblical law and Torah tale is brought vividly to life


The Jewish perspective on topical and controversial subjects

Life Cycle

Probing for meaning in our journey and its milestones.

Yearly Cycle

Discover depth and mystique in the annual Jewish festivals

Rabbi’s Desk

Seeking life’s lessons in news items and current events

Home » Uncategorized

Every Day is Mother’s Day

Submitted by on February 23, 2005 – 4:02 amNo Comment | 10,623 views

Every Day is Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

When I was growing up my mother discouraged Mother’s Day gifts by saying, “in our home every day is mother’s day.” Until recently I didn’t understand her rationale. Why wouldn’t she accept a day of honor in addition to our year-round love?


In a similar vein we never celebrated Thanksgiving. My mother argued that giving thanks to G-d ought to be personal and spontaneous, not a reaction to societal expectations of Thanksgiving day. Once again I wondered what was wrong with offering gratitude alongside everyone else?


Upon completion of the tabernacle G-d instructed Moses on the protocol of sacrificial worship. This was not the first example of sacrificial worship. Cain and Abel had offered sacrifices nearly two thousands years earlier and in preparing for sacrificial worship our ancestors looked to their model for inspiration.(1)

Of the two, Cain made the first offering. His motivation was pure and carried no ulterior motive, but his offer itself was flawed. Cain was an agriculturist and he made an offering to G-d of his harvest but he offered only the inferior portion of his crop and kept the superior portion for himself.

Abel, a Shepherd, made a superb offering, selecting his finest flock for G-d, but his motivation was flawed. On his own he would not have offered the sacrifice but having witnessed his brother’s offering he had no choice but to follow suit. Anything else would have been unseemly. Thus his intent was not to glorify G-d, but himself.

Rejecting Both Models

In introducing the sacrificial ritual the Torah rejects both models. “When a man from among you offers a sacrifice to G-d, it shall be brought from cattle, the herd or the flock.” (2) First
the Torah points out that a sacrifice must be offered “to G-d.” This means that the offering must glorify G-d not its bearer. (3) Second the Torah insists that the offering must come from our finest possessions, “cattle, herd or flock,” An offering must come from the finest flock, not the inferior crop.

The Torah thus demands a pure motive and a stellar offering. We may look to Cain and Able for inspiration but only if we coalesce their respective lessons and form a positive picture.

Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving

The flaw my mother saw in these holidays parallel the flaws of Cain and Abel. She was intuitively uncomfortable with once-a-year ceremonies that belie the extent of our relationship with her. “I am your mother every day,” she said, “our relationship reaches deeper than an annual gift.”

Gifts of love are always appreciated but they cannot encapsulate the parent/child relationship. This love is constant, it is encapsulated in year-long devotion and every day commitment. In this sense, Mother’s Day is no different from any other, for “in our home every day is mother’s day.”

Mother’s rejection of Thanksgiving was rooted in Abel’s flaw. Abel’s offering was in reaction to expectations raised by his brother. What should have been personal and sincere was made artificial. In a similar sense my mother taught us that thanksgiving to G-d should come from within, personal and spontaneous. It should never result from conditions or pressures created by the expectations of society.

In Conclusion

It is not wrong to thank G-d on Thanksgiving and celebrate our mothers on Mother’s day. It is wrong to thank G-d only on Thanksgiving and to celebrate our mothers only on Mother’s Day. Footnotes

  1. Geneses ch. 4, 3

  2. Leviticus 1, 2

  3. The words “to G-d” are ordinarily understood as a stipulation that the sacrificial rite be hence devoted only to G-d, not to Idol Worship.

  4. This understanding follows the commentary of Kli Yakar ibid (R. Ephraim Shlomo of Luntshitz, 1550-1619)