Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Mothers Day

At the local Bikur Cholim breakfast this morning one of the speakers alluded to its being Mothers Day today in the secular calendar, and immediately followed that with "of course, for us every day is Mothers Day." We women at the table looked at each other, smiled, and wished each other a happy Mothers Day. One of the men said, "Didn't you hear the speaker? Every day is Mothers Day so no special greeting needed today." Thankfully one of the other women answered, and we all nodded in agreement. As she said, "You have that wrong. Not only do you have to say happy Mothers Day today but on every other day of the year as well. After all, if every day is Mothers Day then every day should have a recognition of that and a fond greeting to your wives and mothers."

So yes, a happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there, today and all the days of the year.


Abba's Rantings said...

i hate that line. with such logic all the jewish holidays are superfluous as well.

i understand people who object to observing secular holidays on halakhic grounds, but this is idiocy.

(happy mother's day)

Louie said...

What halachic grounds Abba? Mothers Day has no religious or pagan connections. It's a government established day. Back when I was young the English teachers in our yeshiva made mothers day cards with us and had us writing little poems for the cards. Same for fathers day. All of a sudden we've gotten all holier than thou and we can't say happy mothers day?

Well happy mothers day to all the mothers out there!

Abba's Rantings said...


for starters, chukos hagoyim

Devora said...

The problem with chukos hagoyim, as we see in a lot of areas, is where do you draw the line? If we are forbidden to copy ANY of the customs of the goyim then we aren't going to vaccinate our kids against all the childhood diseases (and yes there are some religious groups that get exempted from vaccinating on religious grounds), we aren't going to vote in any government elections, we aren't going to leave our kids to study secular studies one second longer than the law makes us (and plenty of circumventing that law as it is), we aren't going to do anything that those in the secular world do. And then a whole bunch of people who use chukos hagoyim and step way over the line, like in fiddling with income reporting, in not paying all the taxes owed, and in generally ignoring secular law except where it benefits them.

Abba said...


there is also a problem of establishing new holidays


there is a wide spectrum of how to interpret chukos hagoyim, from minimalist to maximalist. (let's leave extreme maximalism a la illeglalities aside.) i think we're both on the same page, but that spectrum exists.

alpidarkomama said...

I'm one of those mothers that really does feel like every day (or most every day!) is Mother's Day. So I don't feel the need to treat it any differently from any other day. B"H, I already get all the love, respect, and compliments from my husband and children I need during the whole year, and today is no exception. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, and every day is Thanksgiving Day, blah blah. Beats me why we bother with Shavuos then. Every day we should accept the Torah. And every day we remember the exodus so who needs Pesach?

It would seem to me that we follow chukos hagoyim when it's sensible and brings us benefit. Thus, you could argue, Thanksgiving is superfluous, but democracy is not.

By that logic, one can argue for the adoption of Mothers Day.

Mothers Day isn't exactly a holiday. It's an opportunity to recognize someone special in your life who isn't going to be hurt by a little extra appreciation. It can only bring benefit.

Happy Mothers Day.

And when Fathers Day comes around, I wish a happy one to Abba, who is obviously concerned for the education and upbringing of his family and deserves recognition for that too.

Abba's Rantings said...


"It would seem to me that we follow chukos hagoyim when it's sensible and brings us benefit"

yes, that is exactly one maximalist approach to applying chukos hagoyim. a car brings us benefit, thanksgiving day does not. so we can use the former but abstain from celebrating the latter. (to be sure demoracy brings us benefit, not the day of thanksgiving itself)

you and i might not subscribe to this view of hukos hagoyim, but it has a halachic leg to stand on, as opposed to "we don't need it because everyday is mothers day"

JS said...

What a bunch of holier than thou nonsense. Anyone who stick their nose in the air and derisively sneer how only the GOYIM need a special day to celebrate their mothers is not someone I want to be associating with. Pretty ironic that it's often these same people who supposedly love and appreciate their mothers and wives each and every day that are censoring and photoshopping images of women in newspapers and magazines and relegating them to the back of the bus.

Every Jew picks and chooses what halachot to follow and which are culturally okay to ignore. But, it's absolutely amazing to me which choices people like this make.

Miami Al said...

America took us in, protected us from oppression by the European pogroms and the Jewish leadership's collaboration (in Czarist Russia, one of the Rabbi's jobs was to decide whose sons were sent off to the army, never to be seen again).

America gave us the freedom to establish our religious life without ANY oppression, on relatively equal terms. We can live where ever we want, own property anywhere, and the state won't LET people prohibit property sales to Jews.

Sure, there is absolutely NOTHING to be Thankful for in this country, and no reason for us to celebrate it's NATIONAL holiday of gratitude.

This attitude is ridiculous, disgusting, and part of how Orthodoxy is retreating from what made American Jews successful in America for the past 75 years... And it's NOT based on Jewish law, this is all preference of certain people.

As far as "halachic leg to stand on" is a TOTAL perversion of 1500 years of Jewish jurisprudence. Until this modern invention, the Jewish leadership wrote books JUSTIFYING the behaviors that their people engaged in, and tried to slightly shift their behavior.

The idea of going to your Rabbi for a ruling on something (that isn't a business dispute or familial matter) as though he's a Jewish oracle is NOT authentic Jewish practice and is a completely 20th Century invention.

JS said...

Yes, the lack of gratitude to this country is disgusting as well as mind-boggling. Some people think of America the same way the old joke used to go in Russia - "May God bless and keep the Czar...far away from us." The Mother's Day stuff just takes the cake though. It reminds me of a stubborn little kid who refuses to do something just because someone else asked him to do it. You want me to honor and praise my mother? Just for that I won't do it! How mature. How profound. Like a little kid who won't get himself ready specifically because it's now time to go.

As for the rabbi comment, reminds me of the Simpson's episode about Krusty's Jewish upbringing and his father being the rabbi of the lowest east side of Springfield:

Man 1: Should I finish college?
Rabbi K: Yes. No one is poor except he who lacks knowledge.
Woman: Rabbi, should I have another child?
Rabbi K: Yes. Another child would be a blessing on your house.
Man 2: Rabbi, should I buy a Chrysler?
Rabbi K: Eh, couldn't you rephrase that as a, as an ethical question?
Man 2: Um... Is it right to buy a Chrysler?
Rabbi K: Oh, yes! For great is the car with power steering and dynaflow suspension!

Abba's Rantings said...


there is a difference between abstaining from observing thanksgiving and having disdain for civil/national society. that there is a very large overlap between these 2 populations, particularly among the younger generation*, is a big problem, but there is a difference. (*and it will get worse in the younger generation as memory of the holocaust and what life in europe was really like fades away, and as we move further rightward.)

and honestly, for most people, jews and non-jews, thanksgiving is about getting together with family for a nice meal and perhaps to watch the parade or a football game. not much, if any, "thanksgiving" goes on. same with most of our other national holidays. and the way we observe memorial day is a terrible desecration of the memories of the soldiers who've died for us. so i don't pass judgement just on how we observe 1 day.

this reminds of a conversation i had with the principal of my son's yeshivah. i asked why they don't do more to incorporate ahavas eretz/medinas yisrael into the curriculum. he proudly responded that they march in the parade and observe yom haatzma'ut. big deal. so the school made a show for 2 days out of the year so they could claim they're a zionist yeshivah, but the rest of the year nothing. given a choice, i'd say to skip the parade and yom haatzmaut and instead make a more serious attempt the rest of the year.

leahle said...

My objection to mothers day isn't that it isn't our day to celebrate but goes more to just what this day celebrates. It's a national holiday but tell me if you heard a single Congressional declaration about our wonderful mothers and what they contribute and have contributed. Were there any speeches by politicians or community leaders? Were there any specific programs or community celebrations? Were there articles in all the media talking about mothers? Nope not a one.

Here's what the day has come to--it's a time for consumerism and for retailers to push buying as a celebration of mothers. It's a day that puts together the idea of buying as the appropriate way to show love and appreciation. It substitutes things for emotions.

I'm not against a national mothers day, and my kids and husband did wish me a happy mothers day. But we spent family time together yesterday and my family didn't have to spend money for me to feel valued.

Miami Al said...

Abba's Rantings,

"there is a difference between abstaining from observing thanksgiving and having disdain for civil/national society"

Sorry, I just don't agree. As you pointed out, there is nothing to do to observe one of our two major national holidays other than gather with friends and family, eat turkey (even my vegan friends get something that looks like a turkey to participate), eat American vegetable sides (squash, potatoes, corn), and watch a football game.

We always put out rolls with our Thanksgiving meal so that we wash/bensch, since that is the Jewish custom of giving thanks to Hashem around a meal.

Ignoring Independence Day OR Thanksgiving is a retreat from American society. It is a way of saying "we are NOT really Americans." There is NO way to consider yourself part of American Civil society and not acknowledge those two holidays.

Regarding Halacha and them, it's total BS. Halacha is CLEAR to your DO celebrate a holiday declared by a king. You celebrate a coronation of a secular king as well. Independence Day is America's annual reminded that we claimed Kingship for the people instead of a hereditary Monarch, and Thanksgiving is a nationally declared king by the manifestation of it (Presidential AND Congressional proclamation).

The refusal to acknowledge those days is an attempt to turn Orthodox Jewry from an observant Jewish faith into this weird secluded Amish-style religion, complete with calling secular subjects "English" subjects and other nonsense.

Same with Mother's Day. It's a minor American holiday to recognize the women that take responsibility for the next generation of Americans. There is absolutely no reason to avoid doing so other than the turn toward misogyny that permeates the new 21st Century Frumkeit and also has NO BASIS IN JEWISH TRADITION.

JS said...


I'm not sure what you're referring to, there is tons in the press about Mother's Day every year. Here's President Obama's Mother's Day proclamation for example:

Your complaint about American consumerism is valid. But, I don't think the issue here is about HOW to celebrate the day, but whether it should be celebrated or acknowledged at all. Some people apparently think even wishing their mother a happy Mother's Day is "treif" or a violation of chukas hagoyim. If one person wants to celebrate with Hallmark cards, Godiva chocolates, florist shop flowers, a meal at a restaurant, etc. and another one wants to celebrate with a homemade card or a nice poem or just a simple "thank you" that's their business, but to make this a whole big religious issue is absurd in my view and I question the thought process that leads to that viewpoint.

Abba's Rantings said...


"it's a time for consumerism and for retailers to push buying"

1) oh please, as opposed to our holidays?
2) one need not give in to consumerism to celebrate holidays (ours or "their")

Abba's Rantings said...


"There is absolutely no reason to avoid doing so other than the turn toward misogyny that permeates the new 21st Century Frumkeit"

my initial reaction to PROFK's post was "i'll bet the speaker was a man," but the truth is he would have the same approach to father's day. there is no mysogyny here (don't worry, it's in lot's of other places)

"There is NO way to consider yourself part of American Civil society and not acknowledge those two holidays."

i think we agree overall about the importance of being part of american civil society, but i'm being more nuanced. and i would even agree that my nuance is meaningless in practical terms for large swaths of contemporary orthodoxy. but i can't agree that the sine qua non for being a good american is fressing on these 2 days.

Miami Al said...

Abba's Rantings:

"my initial reaction to PROFK's post was "i'll bet the speaker was a man," but the truth is he would have the same approach to father's day. there is no mysogyny here (don't worry, it's in lot's of other places)"

Except, all American holidays are primarily celebrated with family time, since America has no established religion, there is no religious component.

It's NOT about Mother's Day vs. Father's Day (though the former is a much bigger deal in American society), it's about dismissing women from Jewish life.

Throwing out Father's Day is also part of Frumkeit's Mysogyny.

We're dismissive of the work of women, in and out of the home.

We're dismissive of men as fathers.

Both are mysogynistic, bad for family life, bad for the Jews, and having no basis in Jewish tradition.

Yes, one could be a part of American Civil Society and NOT acknowledge Independence Day and Thanksgiving, and plenty of Baal Teshuva Jews do that.

It's impossible to teach your children the importance of being a part of American Civil Society and shunning America's holidays.

It is no more possible to communicate that to your children than the ability to communicate the importance of being a part of Jewish Society without the Passover Seder.

ProfK_offspring said...

My rav (clearly a Mother's Day observer) on shabbos started off his weekly drasha on this very subject after a man informed him that his son's yeshiva had been telling its kids that Mother's Day is a secular goyishe thing and that they wouldn't be doing anything for his wife. My rav only half-jokingly told him he might want to ask his wife to paskin on that one before he does zip. He then informed us that if we incorporate so much shtus from the secular world nowadays into our everyday lives, it seems nuts not to observe something that actually values an important person in our lives.

And it doesn't always have to be consumerist or expensive either. Back when I was very young (and before we were allowed near an oven), my sister and I got up early and our Mother's Day gift to my mom was breakfast in bed at the crack of dawn (which, much to our parents' amusement consisted of an apple, popcorn, toast, and coffee made from tap water--my dad laughed as my mom gamely consumed it, until she reminded him that Father's Day was only a month later). She may have gotten indigestion, but she very much appreciated the gesture...though not perhaps the early wake-up call.

tesyaa said...

Were there articles in all the media talking about mothers? Nope not a one.

Yes, there was on op-ed in the Sunday NYT by a Jewish man about his relationship with his late mother. A whimsical, lovely little piece. And that's just one I happened across.

Why do you say there were no articles?

Abba's Rantings said...


there are plenty of ways to demonstrate one's patriotism and commitment to civil society.

serve in the military.
observe the laws of the land ab initio.
pray for the country, government, military, etc. (or as what i saw in west orange and i thought was very moving, noting servicemen who were KIA previous week).
live in an intergrated community.
volunteer for non-parochial causes.
work in a profession to contribute for the greater good.
get involved in politics even if not for parochial gain.
be an american abassador when traveling abroad are amongst those who dislike/misunderstand america.
take an interest in america's history, literature, etc.
conserve water and other natural resources.
treat non-jews with respect.
teach your kids to treat non-jews with respect in word and in action.
drashos on american themes.
chinuch that inculcates the above.

"Throwing out Father's Day is also part of Frumkeit's Mysogyny."

while i agree that many in the RW world are dimissive of parenthood (motherhood or fatherhood), this is not mysoginistic (and i'm still not clear how rejecting fatherhood is technically mysoginistic)

i think you're reaching here

ProfK said...

English teacher chiming in for a minute to straighten out a word usage problem.

Misogyny can only be used to talk about a hatred of women. Miso--Greek root for hatred and Gyn--Greek root for women. (Hint: it's why women see a gynocologist and men don't.)

The word for hatred of men, again from the Greek roots, is Misandry.

If you want to talk about someone who seems to hate ALL people in general then you use Misanthrope.

Miami Al said...


Thanks for the reminder on work usage.

I think that the RW dismissal of fatherhood is a function of their dismissal of women. In dismissing women as unimportant, they have liberated men from ANY responsibilities toward their families.

Whether in a classical provider sense OR in a modern co-parenting sense, the RW has decided that men have no obligations in family life, and only sexual privileges lest they be tempted to masturbate. All of this is in clear violation of the Ketubah.

That's how rejecting fatherhood stems from misogyny, it dismisses the father from any obligations, only privileges, and denigrates everything related to home life as "women's work" with a sneer.