Dear Readers,

Sometimes, it takes time until the depth of an experience permeates.

I was sitting in shul this past Rosh Hashanah, as were so many others, praying to our Creator for a sweet year for myself, my family and all the Jewish people.

At one point, right before the blowing of the shofar, two women entered the room. One was wheeling her child in a specially equipped wheelchair, and it was noticeable that he was extremely limited in his physical movements and needed support to even hold up his head. The other held her daughter’s hand, and it was obvious that she was severely cognitively disabled, unaware of her surroundings.

To say I was impressed by these mothers would be a huge understatement. They lovingly tended to their children, patiently humming the words of prayer to them, holding their hands or just distracting them so that they would be quiet while the shofar was blown.

Theirs was a job that was nonstop and all-encompassing—requiring infinite patience, compassion and love. But more than that, what touched me was the way that they viewed their children as souls. What little or no awareness that their child had for the prayers, the synagogue or the import of the holy day was immaterial. These mothers recognized a profound truth—that their children’s souls understood something beyond their bodies—and that’s why they made the monumental effort to make sure that their child was present in synagogue.

I remember looking at these special mothers, and their powerful love and dedication to their children, and thinking they were the best advocate for the Jewish people. Look, dear G‑d, how these mothers see beyond the inabilities of their children and view them for the perfect, beautiful and untarnished special soul that they are. Avenu Malkeinu, our Father and King, must surely be able to look at us, His children, similarly and see beyond our faults and inabilities, beyond our sins and failings, and love us for the beautiful potential of our souls.

I am reminded of these mothers as we celebrate the yahrtzeit of Rachel our Mother this week on the 11th of Cheshvan. Rachel, too, epitomized unconditional and unwavering love for her children: the Jewish nation. Looking beyond their imperfections, Rachel waged war against the heavenly accusers, demanding from G‑d that He have mercy on them. And due to her overwhelming, powerful love, only she was capable of eliciting G‑d’s compassion.

Rachel is the quintessential Jewish mother, sacrificing for the sake of her children. Rachel did not see children who strayed and who had fallen, but only children who were worthy of compassion. She saw beyond their inabilities to the innocence of their essence, to the inherent goodness of their souls.

And praying in shul this past Rosh Hashanah, I too, got a glimpse of present-day angelic mothers who, like Rachel, spend their days and nights advocating, caring for and helping their children live their lives to their fullest and best.

It was an awesome and humbling sight to witness.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW