When we visited Israel last Sukkot (2013), we sat in a sukkah at a beautiful gourmet meal, and as it very regularly happens, the story of our Jewish conversion came up… We told it for the first time in Israel, in Yerushalayim, in the Holy City, and I will never forget our hostess’s response.
“Wow, and now think about it, the Moshiach (Messiah) could come from you!”
My first thought – “Well that’s a stretch.” I mean, we are definitely not worthy of THAT! Then I began to chew on her meaning, and I felt honored that I’m as much a part of the Jewish family as anyone, by birth or by choice. That Hashem could use any of us to bring His leader of peace into the world.
And then three weeks later, I had Bentzi. We named him Bentzion Shalom, Son of Zion, Peace, memories fresh from the holiness of the kotel, the feel of the air. And, y’all, I wasn’t planning to tell anyone this and I’m for sure not proclaiming it, but I kept whispering to Yisrael (my husband), “Oh my gosh, I think he’s the Moshiach.” Y’all, I am not saying he is. Don’t freak out or send me to a crazy house or report me to the rabbis. I would never claim that. And I laugh as I type it now. But holding him, he was so holy. Beyond holy. And our Sukkot hostess’s words were echoing in my ears.
Now it comes to me that one of us Jewish women may be mothering the Moshiach right now. Let it be so! G-d willing, he’s all grown up and moved out on his own and ready to get this peace party started, if you know what I mean! He is here every generation, but are we ready?
I always talk about my Christian past, because it’s my frame of reference, and I have scores of friends and family who have the same frame of reference, and I want them to understand what I’m talking about. So in Christianity, this idea is both extremely scandalous, and now that I think about it, part of the very doctrine itself. The idea that Moshiach could come from a woman.
And either that scandal has trickled into Jewish thought or we all just think we’re unworthy.
But in Judaism, Moshiach is just a man. Not part-man, part-G-d (or excuse me let me get my doctrine straight – not “fully man, fully G-d”). Not G-d in the flesh. The mouthpiece of G-d, sure. The hands of G-d, of course. But he’s human. And that means, ladies, that he’s coming from one of us. Or maybe he already has.
Mothering is a head-shakingly hard job. Many days I scream, cry, sigh, or throw my hands up. Yesterday I felt like I was possibly the worst mother on the earth. I really did. But today I went to my mommy parenting support group and reminded myself of tools from this book we’re studying (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk – I highly recommend it and thank Sara Weingot for introducing me to is, as well as Aliza Bookman for getting our support study group going)…
I left empowered to empathize with my kids. All a human wants is to be understood and validated. And I picked my boys up from camp differently, and I gave them dinner differently, and I cleaned up vomit differently after I squeezed one of their full tummies too hard trying to hold him between my knees to brush his hair. And I sung Twinkle Twinkle Little Star many more times than I normally would at bed time. With pleasure.
I am really truly working on being a better mother, the mother my kids deserve. And in this world that is blowing my mind and instilling hopelessness every day, I want to encourage all of you tired mommies reading this that one step we can all take to bring peace – is to work on ourselves to be the best mother we can be.
Because your son might be the one.
by Rina Bethea www.rinameansjoy.com