By Ted Roberts
As most of us know, in the beginning the Lord created the heavens and the earth. Through Verse 2 of Genesis, there’s no mention of motherhood. Not a word. He has barely opened the cupboard of creation.
The Creator continues His work. You think concepts like heaven and earth are easy? First you need dry land. Bam: He does it in Verse 9. Then the sun and moon and stars and sea.
Still, no motherhood.
But the Inventor of the universe is on a roll: All the creatures tumble out of His mind onto the land and sea and into the air. As the grand finale, He produces man.
Sadly, still not a word about the invention that allows the perpetuation of the species: motherhood. He has made rain for the thirsty life-forms. He has made the sun to warm their bones. He has told man that the plants and beasts shall be salads and rib roasts for his supper table.
Food but no motherhood.
He creates Eve, the bone of Adam’s bone and flesh of his flesh.
OK, we think we know why she’s there. He’s getting closer to the machinery we need to people the planet. But it is not to be — not yet.
“And the man knew his wife,” says the Torah. Thus Cain was born. Why doesn’t He now tell us about Eve’s love and nurturing — that she comforted and sustained the creature that originated in the flesh of her flesh and the bone of her bone?
Even we humans can see that birth is only half a solution. Birth without nurturing is like dawn without light.
And the brat, Cain, in case you haven’t read Genesis 4, turns out badly; he needs attention. (Spoiler alert: He turns out to be a terrible disappointment to his mama.)
Only after the fall, after the realization that man may be made in “His image” but is not a replica of His ethical goodness, does the Molder of the universe understand what’s missing. He left something out, the missing ingredient in the planetary soup: motherhood.
Only after He notices that the world’s first honeymooners are gullible and rebellious does He remember. Oh, motherhood: I forgot that.
Genesis tells us that “the man called his wife Eve,” Chavah, a Hebrew word whose root means “life.” How appropriate: She is the root of life.
“She was the mother of all the living,” the book of books says.
Now the Creator, whose meditation made the world, sees that man has some instincts in common with the beasts. At heart, without the tending of a mother, man is as wild and high-strung as the wolves that prowl the woods. If the species is going to survive, man needs tending and mending. He needs a soul superior to the beasts, so there has to be motherhood to nurture and instruct him.
That’s why, later in His book, He introduces the great biblical mothers.
First is Sarah, who is worried that Isaac, her son, must compete with the son of Hagar, a concubine. Boldly, she defends the flesh of her flesh. She banishes Hagar. And let’s be even-handed and note that Hagar, the mother of Ismael, progenitor of all Arabs, is also a great mama. That’s why the Lord saves her unruly child.
“He shall be a wild donkey of a man,” Genesis tells us.
And there’s Rebecca, who connives with and for her son to gain the inheritance of Isaac.
Fifty generations later we meet Bathsheva, David’s fascination, you remember. Bathsheva, the beauty who evidently missed most of her Sunday school sessions (not a great wife to husband No. 1, Uriah the Hittite) but turns out to be a supermom to David’s son Solomon.
So He who inspired the book of books, our Torah, finally created and praised the rapturously giving, glowing instinct we call motherhood. Without it, our universe would be an immensely silent, empty heaven and earth.
On Sunday, May 8, tell her you understand and appreciate her contribution. Buy her a flower. Take her to the finest eatery in town. She gave you life, you know.