Mother’s Day — 365 Days a Year
Hi Rabbi, I know that Mother’s Day this year is Sunday, May 13th, but wonder if there’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day in the Jewish religion?
Sure there is! It’s called “Honor Thy Father and Mother” Day. It starts on the 1st day of the year and continues on through the 365th. But don’t worry, traditionally it doesn’t last more than 120 years for any individual!
I assume your real question is about the Jewish perspective on what you refer to as the special celebration of “Mother’s Day”, which this year (2018) is on May 13th as you point out.
Judaism has always placed great emphasis on honoring and respecting one’s mother. This includes expressing sincere appreciation, love and affection. This begins with the adulation of Eve, the first Mother, who precipitated bringing all human life into the world. It continues to the holy Matriarchs — Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah — the illustrious founders of the Jewish People, whose moral greatness and purity are to be emulated. With the giving of the Torah, God commanded: “Honor and respect your mother”. In Judaism this is not limited to any specific day. It is a mitzvah to be fulfilled every day.
One might argue: Given the modern commercialization of Mother’s Day, and due to the fact that in Judaism “every day is Mother’s Day,” there is room to question whether it’s appropriate or not to celebrate a “Special Mother’s Day”.
I see absolutely no problem. And if one’s mother would enjoy celebrating the day — and who would object to receiving flowers, chocolate, being invited out to dinner, etc.! — this would almost certainly be a lovely fulfillment of the mitzvah of honoring one’s mother.
Of course, one should ideally be sincere and not excessively dwell on the commercialization of this day. In addition one should realize that even the special attention to Mom on this day probably falls short of what really should be done every day of the year.
In fact, perhaps celebrating Mother’s Day will be a springboard to help one remember to properly keep the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents throughout the entire year. Celebrating a certain theme on a specific date of the year is a common idea in Judaism. For example, we celebrate the Festival of Shavuot for a day (or two in the Diaspora) to recall the giving of the Torah, although we should certainly recall the giving of the Torah every day of the year! By commemorating an occasion or mitzvah even for one day a year we can be inspired to continue to carry with us that occasion or mitzvah throughout the entire year.