What does Ancient Jewish wisdom aka the Bible say about moms? I am naturally a hard working professional however I am also a relatively new mom.
My husband provides, I stay home with my 1 and 3 year olds. If I did work we could make some upgrades.
This topic wasn’t mentioned in Business Secrets from the Bible. What do you say about it?
What does the Bible say? The assumption underlying the Bible’s prescription for life is that if each person fulfills his or her obligations, the society will prosper. The basic component of the society is the family, not the individual (though of course there are provisions for those who are alone). Together, a man and a woman make a unit where each of them and any associated children can physically, emotionally and economically thrive. The unit suffers if both husband and wife do exactly the same things, just as a business partnership where each partner does exactly the same as the other would make no sense.
To this end, in the Torah, women are not obligated with most of the positive, time-bound commandments. What does this mean? Women, like men, may not murder, steal or gossip. These are negative commandments. The Torah obligates women to observe the Sabbath and eat kosher. But commandments that require one to be somewhere or do things in a time-limited manner, such as appearing at the Temple in Jerusalem (or today in synagogue) or even being forced to testify in a court case, are not incumbent upon women. The idea is that a woman is not asked to do anything that would conflict with her ability to care for her household and children. That is her primary responsibility.
Our culture’s message is quite different. Somehow we have turned work into a woman’s prime responsibility as well as painting it in a rosy glow of self-fulfillment as if we are all highly paid and stimulated CEOs of multi-national corporations. To this end, it is most important that our relationship with our children not be allowed to interfere with our training or career advancement. Our children are secondary to our professional aspirations. Hence the demands that government and business change until that is so. That’s certainly not how we see the world.
Here are some of the questions that we would ask you and your husband to consider. And we reject the idea that a husband should say, “It’s her decision,” about matters that impact the big picture of the family any more than a wife can say, “It’s his decision,” about those same matters.
- Is this entirely a financial matter?
- Are you being swayed by social pressure that tells you that being with your children is betraying your level of intelligence and training?
- Are you feeling unfulfilled at home and if so, why? Do you know other young mothers or do you find yourself sitting in the park with nannies and babysitters?
- How many hours would you need to work to manage those “upgrades” taking into account paying a baby-sitter as well as associated costs like wardrobe upgrade, more prepared food, travel expenses etc.?
- How do the “upgrades” compare with being the prime influence in your children’s lives and being able to focus on your marriage?
- Is there something that you can do that will either bring in some income without upending your home situation or that will provide you with credentials or education for the future?
- Do you crave being a hard working professional or would you prefer to see yourself as a hard working professional wife and mother who does something else on the side?
- What provides you with soul-satisfaction? What can you do to get more of that from an avenue other than career?
- Do both you and your husband value what you are doing as a mother or do either of you take it for granted or disparage it?
The most important thing we think you and your husband should do is to picture your goals and dreams for the future, both for you as a couple and you and your children as a family. What is important to you in terms of who your children become? Whatever you do in the short-term should build towards that long-term vision. In that way, you will remain true to your responsibility where family is your primary concern.
Enjoy all the different stages of your life,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
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