The approach of Mother’s Day in the US reminds us of some different perspectives on motherhood that a TorahTutors student encountered in her studies of Biblical women.
Devorah, the prophetess and judge, is not known as a biological mother at all; her marital status is unclear, and tradition preserves no information about any children she may have had. However, she describes herself as a “mother” to all Israel. What does that mean? What is implied by the maternal relationship, and how did Devorah see that in her relationship with her people?
Delving into commentaries on the verse, the student encountered two vastly differing perspectives. According to Abarbanel, Devorah meant that she is “merciful upon them like a mother who has mercy on her children.” Alternatively, Metzudat David writes, “Like a mother who chastises her child to straighten his path; thus I am to Israel.”
These different perspectives can of course complement each other, but the contrast opens valuable lines of analysis about the workings of biblical commentary, motherhood, leadership, and the personality of Devorah.
Want to learn more? Check us out and start learning what you want, when you want.
A Tuesday TorahTutors tidbit: real Torah, from real TorahTutors sessions.