Ladies everywhere, Hillel and I wish you the happiest Mother’s Day. And this is meant for all women – biological/adoptive/foster mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, aunts, sisters, teachers, nurses, pediatricians, nannies, pet mothers, and dear family friends – all of you give so much to our children, and have always done so. If I missed anyone, be sure to let me know in a comment… And gentlemen – please don’t feel excluded. Hillel and I will properly thank you on Father’s Day for all the wonderful things you do.
For mother’s day, I’d like to jump a little into the Talmudic future ahead of Hillel and tell about a wonderful woman who became the foster mother of the great Talmudic Scholar, Abbaye. She presents a glowing example of the respect and love Jewish women received throughout ancient times. It is a common misconception that women were treated as chattels at worst, and as second class citizens at best. In fact, women were very highly regarded. It is true that men and women did not have the same duties and the same lifestyle. At a time when the community as a whole was much more important than the individual, and each person, male and female, young and old, knew that serving the community and the deity was their first goal, life was arranged on different rules than the life we lead. However, each individual valued his or her dignity, and experienced considerable satisfaction as a part of something greater than himself or herself. Division of labor does not necessarily designate a higher or lower value of the labor involved. Is a Biblical presiding judge like Deborah less valuable than a Talmudic rabbi? I doubt it. Queen Esther, saving her people at a risk to her own life, is much more respected than several Biblical kings who had betrayed their people, like, say, King Ahab.
We remember him as the handsome Richard Burton, swept off his feet by the glorious beauty of Elizabeth Taylor, playing the equally immortal Cleopatra. We remember him as the fascinating Marlon Brando, glowering at the camera, and pronouncing "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” in his best Brando voice. But Marc Antony was nothing like that. He was reasonably attractive, but not a sex symbol of the caliber of either of these two stunning gentlemen. And, let’s remember that he was not an actor. He was, through and through, a Roman nobleman, military man, and politician, with all the callous indifference to human life, including his own, the practical approach to money, and the realistic views of humanity in general that such a Roman would have. Personally I find him much more interesting than any movie star, but that is, of course, a matter of taste.