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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Shalom Rubanowitz

Shmini-Parah, 5779/2019 ~ "I love Mommy Because..."

Tish Talk” by Rabbi Shalom Rubanowitz

Thoughts from your Rabbi for Your Shabbos Table 

Did you know that this Sunday is Irish Mother’s Day? Thanks to an Irish friend, I know! -It's this Sunday, March 31. So if you or your friends are members of the Loyal League of Yiddish Sons of Erin or otherwise have an “OYrish” connection (many believe the Irish, a Celtic nation, descend from the “lost” Tribe of Dan…), you now have ample time to prepare Mum a Colcannon Breakfast or some great Barmbrack to go with her Tea. For the rest of us, it gives us pause to consider a new thought on an oft utilized Mother’s-Father’s Day game called “I love Mommy, I love Daddy because___________?

As a Parent of seven I’ve heard every answer imaginable. Here is a sample of what I might call the “1”, “5” and the “10” scaled answers-without naming kids or ages:

1. “I love Tatty because he buys me stuff”- 1 on a 0-10 scale;

2. “I love Tatty because on Sundays he doesn’t work and takes us on great trips”- 5 on a 0-10 scale;

3. “I love Tatty because he teaches me so many ways how to be a good person” -10 on a 0-10 scale;

Now every one of these great things “Tatty” (or “Mommy”) does are really terrific and display wonderful parental attributes. One might argue that my “ratings” are wrong, however. After all, isn’t a parent really all about providing needs (#1)? Isn’t spending personal time with the children the ultimate sacrifice (#2?) So why did I list #3 as the winningest answer? Sharing lessons and values are critical, but are they less important than #1 and #2?

Our Parasha I believe answers this, in what I share as a novel twist on a Rashi-I have not seen this idea expressed before, and I welcome your comment. Here goes:

In describing the Kashrut, or “impurity” of the “Chasidah” (the bird known as the Stork according to Rashi), Rashi notes its interesting name, which is sourced/related to the word “Chessed” (literally: "Kindness"). Here is how Rashi is most often quoted (Leviticus 11:19):

החסידה:זו דיה לבנה ציגוני"ה [חסידה]. ולמה נקרא שמה חסידה, שעושה חסידות עם חברותיה. Chasidah is the Stork. And why is she called a Chasidah? because she practices kindness with her kind” (Author speaking: I wonder whether this Rashi might be revealing the etymology of the word “kind").

A classic comment on this Rashi by commentaries over the millennia is-if the Stork is so kind, why is she impure? Why isn’t the Stork Kosher!? Answer: Well, as Rashi says, she is kind to her KIND. To Chavroteha”-to her FRIENDS. But if you’re not in her “clique”-forget about it!

Truth be told, I always had a problem with that interpretation. After all, the Stork is identified per Rashi as taking care of her own. Loving her friends, her “peeps”-her family and inner circle. Why is that kindness maligned just because it isn’t complete? Isn’t it natural and normal to worry about our families and inner circle first?