A letter from HaRav Shimshon Pincus, zt'l written
in response to a series of articles in which parents
complained about the difficulty of hosting married children
who visited them.
I am writing with regard to the articles that appeared in the
paper, on the topic of hosting married children in their
parents' home for Shabbos, chagim, and the like. I
wish to bring our readers' attention to a very important
point and explain what I understand to be a basic problem,
and even a fundamental error in hashkofoh. I am not
referring to any specific personal incidents. Rather my
remarks are meant to address the Torah's perspective.
In principle, what is the Jewish woman's role? It is well
known that husband and wife are partners and each one has a
defined role in the partnership. It is written: "A man was
born to toil," and our Sages interpreted this to teach that
man was born for toil in the Torah. There is a posuk
that defines this toil clearly: "And you shall meditate in it
day and night" (Yehoshua 1:8).
The man's central role is to learn Torah and he needs to
devote his life to this end. This is expressed in the long
hours and endless nights of learning and toil in Torah, even
in our impoverished generation. And even if there is a
weakening in the implementation of the goal, the aspiration
for it still remains.
What is the women's share in this? If we continue the same
line of thinking we come to the conclusion that the same
principle applies to her role. The woman's role and her share
in the partnership is to raise the children. Consequently, we
must apply the principle: "A man was born to toil," and the
idea of: "And you shall meditate in it day and night" —
to her role as well.
This means the Jewish woman devotes her entire life to
raising the children and creating the Jewish home. In actual
practice this means long hours and endless nights. It is sad
that society recognizes this principle by the men and they
are expected to fulfill their role. Whereas concerning women
this hashkofoh is being resisted.
I was given an article to read written by a chareidi mother,
with Torah values, in which she discusses the "painful"
problem a young mother is confronted with when she wants to
leave the home at night and hire a baby-sitter. What is she
to do when the children protest vehemently with tears and
screams? She wrote very convincing advice and guidance about
how to deal with the problem
Her main point was, in her words: "The children have to know
that the mother is not a slave in subjugation to her
children. She is not a maidservant and she has the right to
her own private life!"
It is difficult for me to say what daas Torah is in
this matter, because everyone speaks their point of view in
the Torah's name. My impression is, though, that in the past
women did feel they were subjugated to their children.
In the past, a mother was proud of this and she saw this as
her role in life. She felt that just as her husband was in
the world for the sake of fulfilling his role and not
physical enjoyments and the `good life,' and this was
expressed in unending devotion to Torah study, so too she is
no different than he!
If someone's son grew up and became, boruch Hashem, a
maggid shiur or rosh yeshiva, would his role in life
change? Should his aspirations change? His role remains the
same! He is always a "talmid" chochom. He continues to
devote all his moments to learning Torah with complete self-
Why should there be any difference with the daughter? Why
should she feel that because she has matured and her children
have grown up and gotten married she no longer has the role
of a Jewish mother?
Is it right to say that now she deserves the right to devote
herself entirely to the pleasure of being a grandmother, to
enjoy nachas from her children and grandchildren
without the unending toil of a mother?
A Jewish father blesses his sons with the brochoh:
"Yesimcho Elokim ke'Ephraim vechiMenashe" — he
blesses them that they should be good children. He hopes that
even when they grow up and become fathers, grandfathers, or
even the godol hador, they will continue to be `good
children' with a fresh desire to toil in Torah every day.
In the same way, he blesses his daughters that they should be
like the Matriarchs of Yisroel: "Yesimeich Elokim keSoroh,
Rivkoh, Rochel, veLeah." Is it possible to say this is
only until they become grandmothers, with all the rights that
accompany this important attainment?
On the contrary, the children should come for Pesach and she
should toil for them night and day, thanking HaKodosh
Boruch Hu that she still has the strength. Then, six
months later she can wholeheartedly say to HaKodosh Boruch
Hu: "Zochreinu lechayim Melech Chofetz bachaim . . .
lema'ancho Elokim Chaim! Remember us for life, O King Who
desires life . . . for Your sake O Living G-d."
"For Your sake" — meaning, for the sake of the purpose
for which we were created and for which we received the gift
We must internalize the proper Torah hashkofoh that
every child is an only child in G-d's eyes, as beloved as
Dovid Hamelech. Then we can understand that we must dedicate
our lives for this most important role.
If a young mother is privileged to participate in that
unending "marathon" of laundry, cooking, and making peace
between feuding siblings, then why should her mother not have
the chance to fulfill the woman's special task [the
counterpart] of "and you shall meditate in them day and
night" for a week — and become a mother again?
Eventually this Kallah will also be a mother of her own home,
and of her own daughter-in-law and grandchildren when the
time comes, and the unbroken chain will continue.
In truth, the generation we live in and our entire
surroundings cry out the opposite of what we have written.
However, just as we labor to educate our sons to the holy
ambition of dedicating their lives to Hashem and His Torah,
and to reject the enticements of modernization, which teaches
morning and night that we are here only for the "good life,"
so too, the women need to be partners in this battle for the
sake of holiness and restoring the crown of Yisroel to its
glory. We must remind all our grandmothers to return the
crown to their heads.
The custom of the bnei yeshivos is to keep a
"mishmar" on Thursday night, to learn the entire night
with special application. I once heard in the name of a
godol that there is a special sod why Thursday
night, of all nights, was chosen.
However, perhaps the custom originates from the impression
made by the Jewish mother as well. Naturally, she is up all
Thursday night with her own "mishmar," and when her
son sees her long Shabbos preparations that take the entire
night, he sits with the gemora all night as well.
No, the Jewish mother is not the "maidservant" of her
children. But she is the maidservant of HaKodosh Boruch
Hu. This was the praise of Moshe Rabbenu — eved
Hashem, G-d's servant. The way of a maidservant in her
employer's home is to faithfully care for the homeowner's
Sometimes, a baby-sitter is a necessity in our generation's
situation. However, we must at least know the basic
principles: The nursery maid in the king's palace never
brings a baby-sitter in her place: she knows she is caring
for the crown prince. Fortunate is the one that is privileged
to continue this role, until the last day, even at the age of
This is a selection from, Nefesh Chaya, a new
collection of essays by HaRav Shimshon Pincus about