The Mother of Emuna
Passover is the “Rosh Hashana for Faith,”* when we Jews remember the miracles Hashem made for us in Egypt, and get a Divine injection of faith to last us all year long.
This is why seder night is called seder night, literally “The Night of Order,” since this was the night the Israelites learned that Hashem is running the universe with perfect order, even at the darkest moments of our lives and of our people.
And mothers play a large role in this annual injection of emuna.
Rav Shach taught that the Hebrew word for mother “Em” comes from the word “Emuna” (faith). The Jewish mother builds her home with faith and passes it on to her children by living example. As she has throughout history…
In Egypt, Hashem redeemed the Israelites from slavery years before the predetermined time…in the merit of the righteous women who BELIEVED that, despite the darkness that reigned all around them, that Hashem would save them.
Hashem saw the faith of the Jewish midwives in Egypt who risked their lives and disobeyed Pharaoh’s decree to murder the newborn boys, and instead nurtured them and saved their lives.
Hashem saw the faith of the Jewish women who refused to give their jewelry to create the Golden Calf, but rushed instead to donate it to create the Tabernacle and its vessels.
Hashem saw the faith and heroism of Devorah the Prophetess as she led Am Yisrael into battle, Chana whose prayers during her years of childlessness would serve as the model for Jewish prayer, Ruth and Naomi who trusted in Hashem even when they were destitute and alone…and so many other Jewish women throughout history.
During the Spanish Inquisition, when thousands of Jews were being tortured and put to death for living as Jews, the Chassid Yosef Yaavetz noted that it was the Jewish women with their simple faith who displayed the greatest unwavering strength and courage.
This is one of the reasons, Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch teaches, that there is no greater praise than the title of “Jewish woman.”
And to this day, we Jewish mothers constantly pass on faith to our children.
When our children see us taking frustrations in stride, and insisting “everything is for the best.”
When our children see us living a Jewish life, praying, dressing modestly, preparing for and observing Shabbat and so many other holidays and mitzvot.
And one of the greatest times of year to pass on faith to our children is during the pre-Passover rush. Rabbi Dov Weller, author of the Eishes Chayil Haggadah (Artscroll) writes:
“In the weeks before Pesach, children observe their fathers and mothers preparing for a holiday that is the foundation of the Jewish nation…Pesach, the holiday of faith, is the key to the rest of the Jewish calendar.
“But sometimes the day-to-day preparations and stresses involved in cleaning the house, cooking the food, and getting everyone ready for the holiday can cause us to forget why we are sweating, running around, and working so hard.
“But when we see all these preparations as a means of fortifying our faith in Hashem’s love for us, our preparations become less onerous and more joyous.
“When our children see us prepare for Pesach with joy, they will also internalize the resonant message of faith that scrubbing and shopping and cooking for the right reasons can transmit.
“Then our homes, our families, and we ourselves are transformed into bastions of holiness and faith.
“The best lesson a mother can teach her child comes from real-life demonstrations of how she works to be close to Hashem and to perform His will.
“Pesach and all its preparations are a proven wonderful and opportune time for such education.”
Chag Emuna Sameach!
–Most of the ideas in this post come from the wonderful Eishes Chayil Hagaddah by Rabbi Dov Weller (Artscroll) which I am enjoying immensely, and will definitely be using this seder night!