Tradition & Innovation

Geshem: Verses for Our Mothers

By Mark Frydenberg, Translated by Rabbi Simcha Roth
woman with hands together and eyes closed in a outdoor pool


Remember the barren one who prepared
the three [strangers] water [Gen. 18:21]1

At a time when she ceased to be
as living waters [Gen. 18:11]

And God remembered her [Gen. 21:1] in
her old age, in her womb created water2

For her sake don't hold back water.


Remember the kind one who
carried a pitcher of water [Gen. 24:14]

To the servant she gave water [Gen. 24:17]

In Charan for the camels, she drew water [Gen. 24:19]

For her sake, grant water.


Remember the younger one who to the
flock [of Lavan] she gave water [Gen. 29:10]

Her lover kissed her near the well of water [Gen. 29:11]

At Ramah for her children, her eyes wept
tears of water [Lamentations 1:16]

For her sake, don't hold back water.


Remember the Mother of Children
who at Yabbok was first to cross the water
[Gen 32:23 and 33:2]3

Her eyes were tender from crying tears of water [Gen. 29:18]

Her son lived out his days
at the edge of the water [Gen. 49:13]4

For her sake, grant water.


Remember the sister who watched the
baby crying in the water [Ex. 2:6]

She sang and rejoiced after the people
Israel crossed the water [Ex. 15:20]

In Kadesh she was buried
near gurgling water [Num. 20:1]

For her sake, don't hold back water.


1. While Abraham took the water to the three strangers, we suggest that Sarah helped prepare it along with the cakes she prepared in Gen 18:6.
2. 'Shafir' in Hebrew means 'fine' but 'mey shafir' means the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus ('ubbar') in the womb.
3. "Mother of Children" [Ps. 113]. In Gen. 32:23, Leah and her children ford the Yabbok. Preceded by the maidservants and their children, Gen 33:2 explicitly names Leah as first, followed by her offspring, to brave Esau's expected wrath. We suggest that they forded the Yabook first as well.
4. In Gen. 49:13, Leah's son Zvulun is blessed saying he'll dwell at the shore of the sea.


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