Turn all her mother’s pains and benefits
To laughter and contempt that she may feel
How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
To have a thankless child!”
William Shakespeare’s “King Lear”
One of the easiest things to do is break a mother’s heart. Shel Silverstein wrote a wonderful book that has now become a classic and a must read for children entitled ‘The Giving Tree.’ It is a story about a tree that gives and gives, its leaves, branches and all it possesses until it becomes no more than a stump. Yet the child continues to want more from the tree, never satisfied or appreciative for the sacrifices the tree has made out of selfless, unconditional love.
It is a brilliant and poignant book because it is so grounded in reality.
A mother lives to love her children. Hers is a true and remarkable love. Yet there are children who cannot see the love, dismiss it or cast it aside.
Nothing is sadder than a mother who has given her life and love to her children only to find their hearts hardened and critical. This is the greatest sorrow. The sting of a child, their anger and refusal to forgive is true heartbreak.
What has this to do with Israel one may ask?
I have a friend whose son has cast her aside and turned a deaf ear as she now suffers alone and unwanted. When once she reveled in the love of her granddaughter, she now feels the distance between them and a lack of love and compassion. The tone and chill in her voice is a dagger.
Living far away, her son ignores her illness and poverty and turns a deaf ear to her plight. Sadly, this is not an uncommon story, but one that comes to too many mothers.
After World War II, Jewish people were in mourning. Few families were unscathed and exempt from sitting Shiva for six million who had been brutally murdered and sacrificed for evil’s sake.
Where could they go? Who would help? Then, Israel opened her arms to her children and welcomed them home. It took the blood of many to secure their homeland, blood that still flows through her veins and has become a part of the land itself.
She gave them land to cultivate, the coolness and shade of her sheltering trees and a calm wind blowing to cool them on a summer day or provide energy for their inspirations. She provided them nourishment, Kibbutzim where the sweetest fruits and vegetables soothed the years of starvation and emptiness they had suffered. Her warm deserts provided comfort and her family nurtured and sustained those who sought her.
American Jews came to Mother and brought gifts. They applauded and endeared precious Israel to their hearts and protected and supported her.
And she flourished under her children’s loving gaze. The land grew plentiful. Jewish minds set to work once again creating and enhancing the worlds of science and medicine. Her children were home and under her wing once more, safe, secure and now able to be the best they could be. They thrived bathed in her love.
American relatives were proud, loving and diligent. They fought to strengthen her, sent money to sustain her and through it all burst with pride at her accomplishments. They understood their role in her wellbeing while relatives were there caring for her daily.
If she was a wonderful mother, so too were her children.
They called, sent gifts, remembered her on holidays and wept when her song was sung, inspiring joy and awe in their very souls.
They came for dinner regularly. They had not forgotten her birthday every year, marking it with enormous celebrations.
No Jew allowed anyone to speak against Israel. She was the parent, the heart, and the soul of the Jewish people. She was God’s promise fulfilled.
Suddenly, something happened and her children changed. They became sophisticated and decided mother was too old fashioned. She acted in ways they could not condone. They became critical of her every move and began to avoid contact. They were busy with too many obligations and could not visit or support her. Birthdays no longer were a priority and often Israel sat alone with a cake filled with candles and no one to help blow them out.
Outwardly she still seemed strong, yet her heart was about to break, her very being to explode to pieces.
She wondered what she had done to incur such wrath, such anger from her children. Had she committed some egregious, unforgivable mistake? Even if she unknowingly did, did she not deserve forgiveness? Did she deserve their accusations of wrongdoing and untoward actions?
She would never knowingly do anything to drive her children away. What mother ever would?
What errors could have caused the hearts of her children to harden against her?
Now Israel is alone. Infected with an enemy that wishes to destroy her. She has nothing left to give but the love for her children they no longer accept. Staring out a window and remembering how good life was when her family was around only creates an unbearable pain in her heart.
It is this very moment, when she is most weak and fragile, that she needs the support and love to embrace her. Anything else will ultimately destroy her.
Now her children join in the chorus of critics as she reels from the blows of former friends who turn against her in their folly.
As she withers away, her children castigate and turn a deaf ear to her suffering. They have forgotten the mother, who took them in, cleaned, nurtured, fed and sustained them with a pure, selfless love.
Now they are selfish, unforgiving and ungrateful children.
One always wishes when they attend a funeral for one who has suffered at the hands of their children, should I speak up and call them to task?
Shall I ask why when their mother was in pain alone and suffering they turned a deaf ear? Why they cry now when it is too late for her to hear? Or just pray that in the next life there is appreciation and unconditional love for a mother who needs to heal a broken heart?
Why ask when it is too late?
This time I cannot turn a blind eye to Israel’s children and their selfishness in breaking her heart. I am calling them to task and telling them how thoughtless and wrong thinking they are before it is too late.
Israel was there for her children, now it is time to be there for her. This is the undisputable reality, and every Jewish person on earth must be held accountable. There will be no forgiveness at the graveside for these ungrateful children nor do I believe there will be any forgiveness in heaven. The mercy they have failed to show will be held from them.
God gave the gift of Israel to His children and it must be nurtured, loved and protected. Or one day we may awake and the loving and forgiving arms of our mother will be in heaven, and we shall no longer have any protection from the hell here on earth.
This point”and often”counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.
(c) Postcards from Israel”Postcards from America,”