“And his mother said to him, ‘On me is your curse, my son. Only hearken to my voice’” Genesis 27:13

By Rabbi Benjamin Rickman, November 4, 2010

The early narratives in the Torah are an opportunity to learn about and understand human relationships, before humanity's relationship with God takes centre stage.

Mother/son experiences are particularly complex. Men are often embarrassed to admit being able to relate to their mothers and tend to hide any deep feelings of filial love. Mothers learn to step back as their child grows up and will endeavour to act in the best interests of their child, perhaps regardless of the consequences.

Rebecca, desperate to stop her blind and aged husband from blessing Esau, instructs Jacob to deceive his father and to take the firstborn's blessing. Gentle Jacob is scared that he will be discovered in the deceit and observes: "I will bring upon myself a curse and not a blessing."

Determined that Jacob receive the blessing, Rebecca says: "On me is your curse, my son. Only listen to my voice and go, take [them] for me." Rebecca is prepared to suffer punishment for her child's sake, in order to further the spiritual development of mankind. There is an echo here of the punishment God gave Adam :"cursed be the ground for your sake"- mother earth suffering so that her "child" will not have to.

These narratives are essential reading for a thorough understanding of the man/God relationship in which God is the parent, while we are the child. To appreciate and love God, we must learn to appreciate and love our parents. Rebecca's wish that Jacob should succeed demonstrates how deep motherly love is. This Shabbat could become our very own mother's day.

Last updated: 4:28pm, November 4 2010