When a Jewish Mother Gives Birth
I mentioned that my dear friends just had babies last week. And our conversations ever since have reminded me that birth and recovering from birth can range from challenging to downright brutal.
This morning, my friend told me, “You know how we read at the bris, ‘B’Damayich Chayee’– through your blood you will live?’ Well, seriously, that’s what I’m feeling right now. Just look at the pain of birth. Just look at the pain after birth. We create the new life of a new child through his mother’s blood.”
Which reminded me…on the second day of this past Rosh Hashana, late in the afternoon, in desperate need of a break from kids and cleaning, I walked over to Kiryat Belz and made myself an impromptu picnic on a bench with a bag of cookies and a magazine. I got so immersed in my munching and short-story reading that I didn’t even notice that suddenly the empty street I was sitting beside had been transformed into a river flowing with thousands of Chassidim on their way home from mincha.
An elderly rabbi once told my husband that when he was a teenager in the 1950s, the Belzer Chassidim struggled to gather together a minyan in Jerusalem. That was how decimated they had been by the Nazi beasts and the horrors of the Holocaust.
And watching those Chassidim flowing by in their streimels, I thought of the suffering a Jewish mother had endured to bring every single one of those men into the world. So there would be one more Jew. One more Chassid. One more Belzer. To breathe new life into this empire brought to the brink of extinction.
Watching those thousands of men, I imagined I heard a scream, an earthshaking scream, in fact thousands of screams–of mothers, filling Rechov Petach Tikva on that quiet Rosh Hashana afternoon.
And I thought how the Jewish people exists only on account of that self-sacrifice and determination of those and all mothers to endure what they endure. Before birth and during birth and after birth.
Because she knows with every bit of her heart and self and being: Through her blood, we will live.