Influence of Mothers

In the Jewish religion, a Jew is one who is born to a Jewish mother. Birth only to a Jewish father does not make one a Jew. This is historically true because while we always know the mother who gave birth, we do not always know who was the father.

Often we hear someone remark “I am a half-Jew; my father is Jewish.” There is no such thing as a halachic half-Jew. One either is or is not a Jew, and only one born from a Jewish mother can be a Jew. Other than by halachic conversion.

Judaism and Islam have very much in common respecting mothers. Our first matriarch (“Sarah imenu”) was the wife of Abraham and his niece by his brother Nahor.. Her name, Sarah, meaning princess or noblewoman, is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible 60 times, more so than the three matriarchs who followed her: Rebecca (wife of her son Isaac) and Rachel and Leah (wives of her grandson Jacob).

Together with her husband, our first patriarch Abraham, she practiced hospitality, love and kindness to strangers. Sarah was the epitome of every great Jewish mother.

Similarly, in pre-historic Islam, Aminah, mother of prophet Muammed, set the standard of morality and family devotion for women living then in the region of Hejaz, later becoming the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The modern founder of the Saudi kingdom, Abdulazziz, when his kingdom was established, emulated the wise teachings of his ancestral matriarch. Aminah bint Wahb.

In Arabic, the name Aminah means faithful, honest and trustworthy.

King ibn Saud early in his reign established essential values necessary for his new state and his people.

He declared “Two things are essential to our state and to our people. They are: religion and the rights inherited from our fathers”.

Those two essentials could  equally be a basis for our Jewish existence in our ancient homeland. We are living in the State of Israel because our Jewish and Zionist loyalty demands it and equally important, we are here by virtue of the rights inherited from our fathers four thousand years ago, thousands of years before the birth of Christianity and Islam.

Mainly due to the loyalty and devotion of our matriarchs Sarah and Aminah,  Jews and Muslims established and preserved  two great monotheistic religions of the world.

Patriarch Abraham had two sons, Ishmael ben Hagar, and Isaac ben Sarah. Prophet Muhammed had one hundred children born to his many wives and concubines, forty-five of them sons.

Each, in his own way, spread the seeds of monotheism and morality, so essential for the life of mankind.

From earliest biblical times it was determined who was to be the “boss”. When Abraham was in doubt, God appeared to him and said “Abraham…listen to the voice of your wife Sarah”.

I doubt that God ever appeared to our Prime Minister, Netanyahu, with the words “Bibi…. listen to the voice of your wife Sara”.

Hopefully not!

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.