Why the Jewish identity follows the mother

Rashi says that Yaakov knew that Yosef was upset with him (Yaakov) that he buried his mother Rochel near Beit Lechem rather than in the Cave of Macpheilah where Yaakov wanted to be buried.

The Chumash Gutnick edition says that Rochel lost her own spiritual luxury – the privilege of being buried in the Cave of Macpheilah – in order to help her children. This represnts the unparalleled quality of the ‘Jewish mother’ who is always willing to sacrifice her own needs, spiritual or physical, for the sake of helping her children.

And this is the inner reason why Jewish identity follows the maternal and not the paternal route. For even though the father possesses a greater degree of spiritualiy – since he has the privilege of observing more mitzvot than a woman – the quality of a Jewish mother is nevertheless greater. She is willing to forego much of that spirituality in order to enable her to raise a family with tender loving care. And since this quality is even more quintessentially Jewish than the spirituality of the man, it is the mother that actually makes her children Jewish.

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1 Comment

  1. melissa

     /  December 25, 2012

    Of course being female one could argue that I am biased in responding positively to this although it is crystal clear now being a mother how that journey is more natural, a woman is naturally in tune to give and sacrifice herself selflessly yet the male, husband has to work with extreme effort at all times in order to produce merely 10% of the same effort……


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