I am uncomfortable with the fact that in our prayers we refer to “the G‑d of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” while making no mention of our mothers, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. Why do we claim descent from our patriarchs and leave out the matriarchs? Do women not count? Are they supposed to just be quietly left in the background?


Anyone who thinks mothers are supposed to be quiet has never been around a Jewish family.

And if you read Genesis, you can see the pivotal role each of the matriarchs played in shaping the Jewish nation.

Yet, in the Book of Exodus, when G‑d first reveals Himself to Moses, he tells him to proclaim to the Israelites that He had been sent to them by “the G‑d of Abraham, the G‑d of Isaac, and the G‑d of Jacob.”1

This is evoked every time when we say the same formula in our daily prayers,2 which were compiled with Divine inspiration by Ezra and the Men of the Great Assembly.

But why? Why didn’t G‑d reveal Himself as the G‑d of Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca and Leah? Perhaps this is because there is something unique about our forefathers—something the mothers did not have.

They were an unbroken chain.

Abraham’s son was Isaac. Isaac’s son was Jacob. That’s three generations of commitment to Judaism. Abraham was the first Jew. Isaac was the first to be born Jewish. And Jacob was the first grandchild to follow the Jewish path.

The mothers were all first-generation Jews. The fathers were a continuum of holiness, tradition and faith.

This is profoundly significant. When faith survives for three consecutive generations, it leaves a permanent mark. Until then, it still remains precarious. Abraham’s path was followed by only one of his sons, Isaac—not Ishmael. Isaac’s legacy was passed on to Jacob, but not Esau. It was Jacob, the third generation, who bequeathed his spiritual heritage to all of his children.

There have been many visionaries, saints and revolutionaries throughout history who have walked the world’s stage with big ideas to change humanity. But Abraham was the first to make it into a family business. And that’s what made his revolution an eternal one.

So we mention the patriarchs in our prayers. Here we are, 4,000 years later, still praying to the same G‑d as they did. All because of one man who not only lived a meaningful life, but taught it to his children and grandchildren.