Mother’s Day and Shavuos

Question : What do Mother’s Day and  the upcoming holiday of Shavuos have in common? Interestingly enough, there are several common themes. On a basic level, there’s the theme of honoring one’s mother. As the Torah states in the Ten Commandments (read over the Shavuos holiday), “Honor your father and your mother.”  Although, from a Torah perspective, this mitzvah (commandment) actually applies every day of the year, it has become part of American culture to pay special tribute to mom on this particular day.

However, there is an additional connection between Mother’s Day and Shavuos that I would like to share. Let’s think about it. Why is it that millions of people will be making the special pilgrimage over to mom’s house over this weekend? The answer is very simple. It has become a way of demonstrating love, affection, and appreciation for mom and everything she had done and continues to do for us and our families. With no insult to fellow dads intended, there’s not a single person who loves her children, more than a mother! What wouldn’t a mother do on behalf of her child? In fact, the Torah recognizes the extra-close bond that a mother has with her child. In the commandment to “honor your father and your mother,” note that the father is stated first, and only then does the Torah mention the mother. Contrast this with the mitzvah to revere one’s parents. There, the Torah states, “each man (person) shall revere his mother and his father,” first citing one’s mother and then mentioning the father. Why the reversal? The commentaries explain that there is a natural extraordinary bond between mother and child, and so it’s only natural for a child to want to honor his mother, thus the Torah mentions the father first in this commandment to instruct us to be mindful to honor our fathers, as well.

In Judaism we recognize Hashem (G-d) as our loving Father in Heaven. And although it’s true that there’s no greater love than a mother for her child, when it comes to Hashem loving us, His children – that is the ultimate love! Hashem loves us, cherishes us, and wants the absolute best for us, all the time. And this is one of the fundamental lessons of Shavuos. Shavuos marks the historic day when Hashem gave us, His children, the Ten Commandments. But most importantly, Shavuos marks the day when, by giving us these precious mitzvos  Hashem demonstrated His  extraordinary love towards us, His children, for all generations. Thus, Shavuos is ultimately about the special, caring relationship that Hashem has with us.

And so, this Mother’s Day, yes, let us once again fulfill the daily mitzvah of honoring one’s father and mother. Let us appreciate the incredible sacrifice and love that every mother has for her child.  But let us also remember that the holiday of Shavuos comes only a few short days later – the holiday that marks the ultimate love of a parent for a child, the ultimate love of Hashem for us, His children.

Wishing you a great Shabbos, happy Mother’s Day, and a most meaningful Shavuos holiday.

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