I looked at my dear friend as she braced herself for another contraction. She closed her eyes and her face flushed red. She had never looked so natural and beautiful.

"You are doing great," I told her, putting my hand on her round belly.

It was tight with a contraction. She opened her eyes wide and looked at me for a moment.

"I'm scared," she said.

"I know."

She must embrace the pain to reach her ultimate joyIt is so moving to see a woman about to give birth. It is like watching a butterfly in a state of metamorphosis. She is experiencing a pain like no other she has known – and yet, she must embrace the pain to reach her ultimate joy. It is that mix of emotions that I saw on my friend's face - fear, pain, excitement, joy and love.

The ancient Chinese word for "mother love" is teng ai, which is written by combining the characters for "pain" and "love." This seems to allude to two different interpretations. One is to the tough love that a mother must, at times, show her children. The second evokes the feelings of pain and suffering that concern the mother herself.

It is with pain and suffering that G‑d curses Eve after she eats from the forbidden fruit, saying to her, "I will greatly increase your suffering and your pregnancy; in pain shall you bear children." According to the classic Jewish commentator, Rashi, this curse is three-fold. "Suffering" refers to the pain of raising children, "pregnancy" refers to the pains of the pregnancy itself, and "in pain shall you bear children" is referring to the pain of giving birth.

The first part of the curse, regarding the pain in child-rearing, is the most complex of the three. G‑d is not petty. He is not telling Eve that she will be stressed out by the incessant whining and fighting of her children. He is not telling her that she'll be tired and annoyed and overworked. That is not the curse of raising children. The curse of raising children is deeper. The curse of Eve is teng ai, pain and love – her mother love. G‑d is telling Eve that she will spend the rest of her days worrying about the fruits of her womb.

The second part of the curse refers to the pain of birth itself. In Eve's curse, G‑d said, "Btsa'ar teldi banim"- with suffering you shall bear children. Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, a master of Kabbalistic thought, teaches that it is the responsibility of every woman to try to birth in joy, and specifically the aspect of joy which is called chedva. Chedva is the initial "point" of joy and is able to pierce through the hardest of situations. Rabbi Ginsburgh discusses that when a woman is able to experience chedva during childbirth, she is able to bring rectification for the transgression of Eve. It is in each woman's power to reverse the aspect of the curse that refers to pregnancy and labor. Only when we birth through joy can we rectify the sin of Eve and help to bring the redemption. The third Lubavitcher Rebbe, The Tzemach Tzedek,taught "tracht gut vet zain gut," a Yiddish maxim for "think good and it will be good." Only we are responsible for our own realities, and only by truly believing in something will it come to be.

With those six screams, Sarah departed this worldDuring the Rosh Hashanah service, we are commanded to blow six uninterrupted shofar blasts called tekiyot. According to our Sages, these correspond to the six times our foremother, Sarah, cried out when she was told of her son Isaac's death. The truth was that her husband, Abraham, had not slaughtered their child, but the strength of her mother love was so intense that when the adversarial angel told her Isaac had died, it was too much to bear. With those six screams, Sarah departed this world, and we commemorate her love for her son with the cries of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.

When I gave birth to my daughter, the midwife congratulated me on giving birth to all my future generations. Because the female is born with all of her eggs, all of our potential children and grandchildren are carried within each one of us. This, indeed, gives new meaning to a life being worth an entire world. So, those of us who are not yet mothers - or those of us who may never be mothers – are still born with this mother love. It is innate within each of us.

And along with the pain, there is beauty in that love. It is a connection between mother and child that cannot be broken. It is deeper than any other love that can exist. It is a unique love. In Jeremiah (31:15), the prophet speaks of our foremother Rachel weeping by the side of the road, waiting for her children - the Jewish nation - to come home from exile. It is said that her husband Jacob buried her at the side of the road for this very reason. He knew that the connection to her children could not be broken, even in her death.

The Secondary Torah Reading, the Haftorah, for the first day of Rosh Hashanah centers on Chana, a barren woman who comes to the mishkan, the tabernacle in Shiloh. With immense grief, she prays to her Creator for a child, weeping profusely. She had not yet borne a child, yet the mother love within her defined her existence. But how is this connected to Rosh Hashanah? Why is this mother love, this curse of Eve, so important that it is included in the liturgy on this holy day?

We come a little bit closer to knowing the love that G‑d has for usOur answer is that Rosh Hashanah is not just the first day of a new year, but the birthday of the original man, Adam. It is the day that G‑d decided to bring forth human life – to create man. It is also the day when He began to rear that child. Furthermore, it is said that G‑d must decide each Rosh Hashanah to recreate the world anew and continue to rear His children.

So when the Jewish people gather to hear the cries of the shofar - the cries of our mother Sarah that proclaimed her deepest love - and we stand together and read the story of Chana, we recognize and emphasize the love of a mother. And through the experience of that love, we come a little bit closer to knowing the love that G‑d has for us.

For only once we see how central this love is to Rosh Hashanah, and to Judaism at its core, can we begin to see how the concept of chedva, of birthing in joy, can be extended to our lives beyond the birthing experience. It must be applied throughout the process of raising a child… even if that child is an inner one. Because we are all commanded to live in joy, and the greatest joy comes from the reversal of pain, we must turn "Btsa'ar teldi banim," with suffering you shall bear children, into "B'chedva teldi banim," with Joy you shall bear/rear children. This is how we can change the curse into a blessing.