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Asking the Clergy: How does your religion honor mothers who have passed away?

Rabbi Mendy Goldberg, associate director of Lubavitch of

Rabbi Mendy Goldberg, associate director of Lubavitch of the East End Photo Credit: Lubavitch of the East End

Flowers, cards and perhaps accompanying Mom to her house of worship can be fitting gifts on Mother’s Day. But not all moms are with us to feel the extra bit of love sent their way on the second Sunday of May. This week’s clergy discuss how they pay tribute to moms who remain forever in our hearts.

Rabbi Mendy Goldberg

Lubavitch of the East End, Coram

Your mother in Judaism is probably your most important asset. For starters, Judaism lineage is matrilineal descent, so it’s your mother who makes you Jewish. If your mom’s Jewish, you’re Jewish, no questions asked. It’s more than just that, however. The very basics of Jewish thought and ideas, looking back to the fifth of the Ten Commandments, is “honor thy father and mother.” Why are we commanded to honor our parents? The Mystics point out that the Fifth Commandment is the hybrid of connecting the commandment between man and God and man and his fellows. By honoring our parents, we are in essence honoring God. For two reasons, we are grateful for all the things our parents have done and do for us. Moreover we need to be grateful for the very fact that they chose to bring us into this world and give us the opportunities we have and live for. Being grateful is a godly disposition and a core principle in Jewish belief. Gratefulness does not end, and continues even after one’s mother is no longer with them here in this world. The Zohar (the primary text of the Kabbalah) tells us that parents, especially our mothers, continue to intercede on their children’s behalf even after their passing. Mother’s Day is your chance to be grateful for what your mother did and continues to do on your behalf. Pay it forward and do something of quality, a good deed for someone else in honor of your mother, and let her memory continue to be a blessing for you and her family for eternity.

Anu Bindra

Volunteer, Long Island Multi-Faith Forum

An anchor, a shield, a light, a mother is forever protecting her children, guiding them till her last breath. Immortalized in their memories, smiling from the heavens above with so much love, never taking that doting gaze from upon them till their last breaths. Every moment is celebrated and is filled with gratitude in Sikhism. The recital undertaken to mark a happy occasion is the same that is performed at a memorial — reading all the verses in the Guru Granth Sahib, from beginning to end. This ritual is considered very holy and is said to bring peace and solace to the participants and the passive listeners of the recital. During the reading, it is tradition for langar (a communal kitchen that offers free food for all) to be available at all times. Barsi, a word for the anniversary of a death, marks the completion of a year. Salana Path, the annual reading of scripture, is completed. Family, friends and loved ones gather in the gurdwara, a place of worship for Sikhs. They give donations to the communal kitchen in memory of the departed soul, organize devotional music programs and arrange services outside their community by offering food, blankets and clothing to the poor and homeless. Just as we remember our creator every single moment, we remember our mothers all our life. We learn from the total unconditional love she gave us and pass it on to everyone around us.

Hai-Dee Lee

Buddhist representative, board of Long Island Multi-Faith Forum

Buddhism has stressed the importance of the cycle of life and death. Awareness of death is what prompted the Buddha to perceive the ultimate futility of worldly concerns, desires and pleasures, thus it gives a different way to look at our life as impermanent and nonsubstantiated. In Japanese Zen and Chinese Chan Buddhism tradition, after the death of a mother, we chant and pray for her eternal bliss in the Western Pure Land. We honor her dedication to the family, loving kindness, generosity, selfless caring, courage and contributions to the society. In Theravada Buddhist tradition, a ceremonial service may be arranged by family members. Monks chant prayers to honor a beloved mother and ask that she be free from suffering and be enlightened. In Tibetan Buddhism tradition, the family members may invite a respectful lama to their home to do chanting and a fire offering to honor a deceased loving mother. In the fire offering, family member will prepare a variety of herbs, grains, beans and flowers to be burned in a fire pit as an offering asking that a deceased mother be free from obstacles. In all Buddhist tradition, the role of a mother will always be respected and honored in memory of the love she gave to the family, friends, the community and our country.

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