Motherly Mitzvot

Motherly Mitzvot

In her newly-released book House of Diamonds, Fay Klein talks about the power of kavana (focus) in our mothering lives. We can change a diaper, serve breakfast, drive carpool and it can be an annoying burden or a mitzvah with eternal reward, depending on our attitude.

Over the last few days, I’ve been trying out Fay Klein’s suggestion to actually state my preparedness to perform a mitzvah before I do something for my family…And it truly is uplifting and empowering, since it enables me to really feel how caring for my children and home are a mitzvah.

Here are a few motherly mitzvah suggestions from Fay Klein:

The mitzvah of “Gidul Yeladim” or “Raising children” (she learned this one from Rav Aryeh Levin)
Any time you are caring for your children, you can say:
הריני מוכן ומזומן לקיים מצוות גידול ילדים
(I am ready and willing to fulfill the mitzvah of raising children)

The mitzvah of “V’Ahavta l’reiacha kamocha” or “Loving your neighbor like yourself”…
For any interactions with your children or husband, you can say:
הריני מוכן ומזומן לקיים מצוות ואהבת לרעך כמוך
(I am ready and willing to fulfill the mitzvah of loving your neighbor as yourself)

The mitzvah of “Ve’Halachta bidrachav” or “You should walk in Hashem’s ways.”
For whenever you are caring for family members, just like Hashem cares for us, you can say:
הריני מוכן ומזומן לקיים מצוות והלכת בדרכיו
(I am ready and willing to fulfill the mitzvah of walking in Hashem’s ways)

The mitzvah of “Malbish Arumim” or “Dressing the naked”
For when we do laundry or clothe our children, you can say:
הריני מוכן ומזומן לקיים מצוות הלבשת ערומים
(I am ready and willing to fulfill the mitzvah of dressing the naked)

The mitzvah of “Bikur Cholim” or Visiting the Sick.
For when we care for sick family members, you can say:
הריני מוכן ומזומן לקיים מצוות ביקור חולים
(I am ready and willing to fulfill the mitzvah of visiting the sick)

The mitzvah of (this is my addition) “ניקיון בית המקדש” or Cleaning the Holy Temple.
For when we are cleaning our homes (sometimes referred to as Temples in miniature), you can say…
הריני מוכן ומזומן לקיים מצוות נקיון בית מקדש המעט שלי
I am ready and willing to fulfill the mitzvah of cleaning my Temple in miniature.

Cool, right? I am planning to put this list on my refrigerator so I can refer to it throughout the day…

You can learn more about how kavana can uplift everyday mothering tasks in this week’s peptalk, Uplifting Humdrum Mothering Tasks.

Related posts:

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The Rebbe who Risked his Life for Mikveh
Raising Proud Jews (6-Minute Mommy Peptalk)

23 comments

  1. I can really use this now. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Claire

    A beautiful practice of mindfulness. Thank you

  3. Jessica

    Hi! I loved the concept… is there any way you could make a short list of the blessings in English?

  4. Chana,
    I seem to remember reading about this idea in one of your books. You described yourself doing a seemingly humdrum or difficult task and using the above words to transform it into something meaningful and holy, thereby giving you strength.
    The image of you scrambling eggs and saying “לשם מצוות ואהת לרעך כמוך” has stayed with me and inspired me through many mothering moments.

    • JewishMom

      that’s funny– i don’t remember this at all! Probably a lot of my “chidushim” are things I’ve learned before, and forgotten. Until I come across them again and again, and (occasionally) they become a part of me

  5. I love this. Just before reading the end, I thought, I’m going to print this out and put it on my fridge.
    I think that this could totally transform my days.

  6. Building Our Sanctuaries

    by Bracha Goetz

    Some major construction was going on,
    That a passerby was viewing.
    Then he got up the nerve to ask one guy
    About what he was doing.

    “I’m just drillin’ some holes
    In this wood here,” the worker darkly grumbled.
    Then the onlooker walked a few more feet.
    He paused, and then he mumbled:

    “What you up to, young fella?”
    To a worker standing near
    Who was wielding a hammer.
    The fellow answered loud and clear:

    “I’m making the frame of a building,”
    The man declared with pride.
    The passerby smiled, then walked on more,
    Still not satisfied.

    So he asked another worker,
    Also drilling away,
    About what he was doing,
    How was he spending his day?

    The man looked up, eyes sparkling.
    His entire face was beaming.
    And he responded with great joy,
    Even though his sweat was streaming:

    “I’m helping build a synagogue!
    So I like my job a lot.
    Me – building a House for G-d!
    It’s a holy job I’ve got!”

    How do I view all that I do,
    Seeing value in each chore?
    And do I see its highest purpose,
    Imbuing each job with much more?

    Changing diapers, or driving carpools,
    Shopping for food, or paying bills,
    Can be demeaning or uplifting,
    Like hammering nails or using drills.

    But the same work can send us sparkling,
    From an enlightened inner core,
    Each time that we can focus
    On what we’re doing all this for.

    http://www.amazon.com/author/spiritualkidsbooks-brachagoetz

  7. Jessica

    Thanks for the translations! It’s all so new to me… now that you did it, I can see that most of you readers probably already knew what the beginning of a blessing would be…thanks for adding it for me so I can join in.

  8. Shavua Tov,
    In your second book, One Baby Step at a Time, Seven Secrets of Jewish Motherhood on pages 30-31 you mention the idea from your teacher Leah Golomb to preface mothering tasks big and small with “Le’shem mitzvat…” or “Leshem yikhud Kudsha…” and you described it as “transformed the mundane tasks…into mitzvot…This is one of the best ways I have found to remain present throughout my day…aware of the the importance of the smallest acts of mothering kindness”
    And I really enjoyed reading the book yet again…

    It is funny, though, how we can

  9. Wow loved this!!! Great idea to copy it and post all over the walls atención home 😊thank u!!

  10. Hadassah

    It remains a mitzvah whether we intend it or not. But if we are conscious of it than we feel uplifted or important. When we prepare meals, make beds, laundry, or even shopping for our family it is a mitzvah so our entire day is chock full of opportunities to make this world more G-dly! much hatzlocha to all moms and wives out there!

    • JewishMom

      the book’s author says that by having kavana when doing a mitzvah, we are “maximizing” the mitzvah. But I don’t really understand what that means.

    • JewishMom

      I just had a long discussion with the site posek, and it turns out that this topic is really complicated. Some poskim (as we see in the introduction to the Chafetz Chaim’s sefer Sefer Mitzvot Hakatsar) say that we don’t get full reward for certain interpersonal mitzvot if we don’t have kavana. And other poskim, such as the Sreedei Haesh, say that we get full reward even if we don’t have kavana.

      • Hadassah

        There is a lot of discussion about Kavana and its importance in the Tanya. Some things need to be done on a physical level whether or not we have the intention. Other things – such as saying Shema – need a minimum of concentration to be considered accomplished. The Alte Rebbe explains that doing the mitzva is like the body of a bird. The love and fear of Hashem with which we should imbue the mitzva are like wings that enable it to fly aloft.
        If we act kind out of our own sense of kindness – it doesn’t detract from the benefit the recipient had of our kindness. If we want to refine ourselves then we have to reach beyond our comfort zone to either act kindly when we are not in the mood – or use the opposite middah of strictness when it is appropriate.

  11. Really beautiful!! I would just add/suggest that, as women, we say “הרני מוכנה ומזומנת…”

  12. It does a terrible disservice to all to even entertain the thought for a second that anything we do that is a mitzvah that might come naturally to us ie being kind and compassionate or even keeping kosher might not count if we do it without thinking just because it is who we are…. what a depressing thought at all that anyone is even thinking about what counts as opposed to just doing and being good JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO and not because “it counts “…. all this mussar about mindfulness and maximising is precisely what almost made me throw away everything…… kudos to anyone who wants to step.up their mitzvah game merely because they want to be better people as opposed to wanting to “make it count”….

    • JewishMom

      thanks so much for your comment, I am running around getting ready for my daughter’s bat mitzvah tonight, but have a story from rav hutner which reminded me of your point which I will share when I have some time

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