Ki Tetzeh
 
My Yiddishe Parasha
During Zimriot (singing songs) at a Shabbat lunch a while ago, I suggested turning to Yiddish tunes, “how about My Yiddishe Momme, anyone?” One person with a sweet, beautiful voice broke out and by the end everyone was moved by the haunting lyrics with one friend in tears. He said, “I would give everything I have to just have a few more minutes with her.”
What is it in that song that stirs the souls of most who hear it? What is it about our Yiddishe Momme that especially for those who lost her in our lives, causes emotions to swell so, at her not being attached to us anymore?
Allow me to build a case aside from the obvious.
When I was young I admired clever people, now that I am old, I admire kind people”…
Wisdom and Piety are characteristics one can acquire” Abraham Joshua Heschel
A friend, a mentor, someone who is one of the most beloved and respected Rabbis I know once confessed to me;“I will tell you, many decades ago I did Chessed in part for recognition, so people would say oh look at him, such a fine man. I find that Ok, because later those acts became part of my being.” In his senior years his every moment is filled with Chessed, acts of goodness and he truly is a loved man.
While this is worthwhile Vort, what about the conflict posed by the Mishnah in Pirket Avot – that tells us not to perform a Mitzvah for the sake of a Reward? I will address that later as well.
In his introduction to Ki Tetzeh Rabbi Dr. Hertz simply states “Laws Of Domestic Life and Kindness.” I suggest that in most Mitzvot if not all posed in this Parasha one can find the conclusions resulting in kindness, even with the rebellious son where the Torah tells us to stone him. If you follow it’s application in brief, the Jewish response is, the Rabbis tell us that there was never such a boy and in a beautiful Chassidish thought around the notion- if you have a misbehaved child the corrective response should be, love him more.
Clearly, the most evident pious act of kindness in this Parasha, is the Halacha of the Mother bird…“and the dam (mother bird) sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young.” While the sages go back and forth they consistently bring up the idea we do Mitzvot just because they were commanded by G-d, that is reason enough. However, so much is written about the distinct lessons of human behavior, we acquire in treating a creature with sensitivity. Perhaps an animal can’t think, but it can feel. As the Rambam shares, this influences our interaction and sensitivity with other Human beings.
Rabbi Hertz writes “ The ground of sympathy here is the sacredness of the parental relationship. The mother bird is sacred as is the mother; and length of days is promised to those who regard the sanctity of motherhood in this sphere……”
Unfortunately, many Jews do know the pain, the shredding of the soul when children are taken from their mothers and to try and imagine the perspective of the child who is separated, is not thinkable.
What is the role, the purpose of the Mother bird, it’s entire existence centers around the nurturing the baby eggs… to give them warmth, cover, love, life. There is nothing else. The only reason the babies would survive is because of their absolute dependence on NOTHING else other that their mother’s unambiguous love and care. If you take that away, there is only darkness.
My yiddishe momme I need her more then ever now
My yiddishe momme I’d like to kiss that wrinkled brow
I long to hold her hands once more as in days gone by
and ask her to 
forgive me for things I did that made her cry
How few were her pleasures, she never cared for fashion’s styles
Her jewels and treasures she found them in her baby’s smiles
Heschel from a masterful piece on Jewish Piety….. “It (Piety) stands as the champion of something….it is more important than interests & desires, than passion and career.”

We know that about our Yiddishe Momme, innately we perceive that idea, don’t we? We know that it wasn’t things that brought her satisfaction, she knew as Heschel wrote “things are forgeries of happiness”. There was an Ultimate power to her/our connection. Her devotion, that care, that kindness, the very essence of a Pious life that indeed finds a deep and mystical connection to G-d’s ways.
Heschel goes on to reveal that the true Pious person through a sincere pious life has that unbiased connection to G-d that is almost indescribable. We can maybe sense this idea through our emotions towards our Yiddishe Momme. He writes on piety “ Piety is a model of living….an orientation of human inwardness toward the holy….a pious man’s heart overflows as though it were a cup in the hand of G-d.”Mommish Gevaldick
In so much of the sages’ writing there is a consistent rebuke of materialism and it’s consequences. Among others, it’s concern removes one from what truly matters. It is that separation from all things except to our well-being that we sense, we feel, we long for in our Yiddishe Momme. In the mystery of this relationship it leads Ultimately to one of real Kiddusha – Holiness- between us and Hashem, doesn’t it?
This time of year, we draw closer and closer to G-d. We spend hours, days examining our actions, our thoughts, our feelings. We are asking G-d for “forgiveness for the things that made him/her cry.” Through living in the Succah with our entire being involved in the Mitzvah of our attempt of being one with him, of making sure he/she will nurture our shells like the mother bird, covering us, not to be taken away, to keep us warm, to give birth to us again this coming year and STAY with us. On Shemini Atzeret we ask him one more day, stay, oh please G-d would we give everything if you didn’t leave us?…without you there is nothing as our dear ones lost in the Shoah know too well, “thou shall not take the dam...”. Hashem too treasures those treasures from us as well and he gives us the ways to achieve that everlasting relationship. Heschel writes “the pious one ascends step by step a ladder reaching the Ultimate…in aiding a creature, he helps the creator.” My Rabbi from the past used to tell us, he invited the Matriarchs into the Succah first. What a beautiful idea!

So, perhaps we have a resolution to the conflict that arose with my beloved Rebbe regarding not to do a Mitzvah for the sake of the reward. Do the Mitzvot for the sake of our 
connection, our attachment and our sensing and bringing back all that warmth, that cover of well being given to us, by our Yiddishe Momma.
Shabbat Shalom
Harold
A special thanks again for the ongoing encouragement of Rabbi Siff, Josh Rubin and now a few others..
Below are the full lyrics of that magnificent Prayer, My Yiddishe Momme. If you really want to well up, Google My Yiddishe Momme and listen to the many renditions even those by Tom Jones, Billie Holiday, Al Jolson and the classics—an interesting exercise in Teshuva.

Of things I should be thankful for I’ve had a goodly share
And as I sit here in the comfort of my cosy chair
My fancy takes me to a humble eastside tenement
three flights up in the rear to where my childhood days were spent
It wasn’t much like Paradise but ‘mid the dirt and all
There sat the sweetest angel, one that I fondly call

My yiddishe momme I need her more then ever now
My yiddishe momme I’d like to kiss that wrinkled brow
I long to hold her hands once more as in days gone by
and ask her to forgive me for things I did that made her cry
How few were her pleasures, she never cared for fashion’s styles
Her jewels and treasures she found them in her baby’s smiles
oh I know that I owe what I am today
to that dear little lady so old and gray
to that wonderful yiddishe momme of mine

My yiddishe momme I need her more then ever now
My yiddishe momme I’d like to kiss that wrinkled brow
I long to hold her hands once more as in days gone by
and ask her to forgive me for things I did that made her cry
How few were her pleasures, she never cared for fashion’s styles
Her jewels and treasures she found them in her baby’s smiles
oh I know that I owe what I am today
to that dear little lady so old and gray
to that wonderful yiddishe momme of mine