My Mother’s Unintentional Gift

March 4, 2016


I have often thought that people should write their own obituaries. Toward that end, I have even started writing my own. Why should I leave it to others to decide what’s important to share about my life? But, my mother didn’t do that, and it’s impossible to condense my perception of her life into one coherent blog post, so I’ll share a couple of points about her now. She will surely be in future posts as she will always be with me. Some might even say she is within me.

I never knew how my father felt when my mother would outright say that she only wanted to get married in order to have children. But as her daughter, that statement translated to mean that my two siblings and I were the most important people in the world to her. Only now that I’m a parent do I appreciate the endless hours she put into my life, especially counseling me regarding friends that weren’t really friends, and more importantly, what came to be known as my “bad thoughts.” My friends who weren’t really friends had no idea that I thought obsessively about why some kids were in wheelchairs or why some people were unhealthy, but my parents knew all about my inner turmoil. It was never, “why are you still thinking about this?” I had their full attention as often as I needed it for as long as I needed it. I cry now when I think how grateful I am for the comfort they provided.

I know now that my difficult inner world was the stirring of my Jewish soul. It was troubled by existential questions that my life’s trajectory had yet to provide answers for. But that soul was an inheritance from my mother– a pintele Yid, a soul that is literally a part of G-d.  And when I say I’m eternally grateful to her for it, I mean it.

Now that I finally understand what to do with it.

When we became observant, I was relieved and somehow sure that Torah and Chassidus provided answers to everything that anguished me as a child. But there was so much to learn and just as much to unlearn that I occasionally wished my soul could have been more like those of the people I grew up with.

Almost thirty years later, it’s hard not to see G-d’s involvement in my life’s transformation–not just mine, but my husband’s and our children’s–but the truth is that it came at a price.

Every time the going would get rough, my parents were the go-to people to blame for not teaching me how to read Hebrew or how to love a fellow Jew. Which made me feel guilty for not being grateful enough for all they did give me.  When I stood before my mother’s aron, her casket, one week ago, I sobbed as I begged her for forgiveness for anything I ever did that hurt her. For me as a ba’alas teshuvah, a returnee to Torah observance, honoring my parents was a challenging mitzvah.

And my parents were wonderfully supportive, especially compared to some other parents of ba’alei teshuva. My mother dressed up for Purim and my father was instrumental in raising money for the new Yeshiva in Pittsburgh. Still, I know it caused my parents pain that we couldn’t celebrate Pesach together or eat in the same restaurants. They loved their grandchildren and great grandchildren who raided their “kosher cabinet” and were proud of the rabbis in the family. Still, our lifestyle choice mystified them. Their friends whose children had intermarried had an easier road, at least on the surface.

My mother may have lived primarily in the material world, but she was equally comfortable with pnimiyus, the inner dimension of life. She was diligent about lighting her Shabbos candles, going to shul for yizkor, visiting her parents and later, my father, at the cemetery. And when I talked about Moshiach’s imminent arrival, she answered unequivocally: “I’m ready.”

One of the customs that officially ends shiva, the seven day mourning process, is to walk around the block, which my brother Robert and I did yesterday. As we walked against a cold March wind, I told him our mother is now in the World of Truth, Olam ha Emes. The outer shell of her body has been shed and the inner light of her G-dly soul now shines completely, without constraint. I assured him our parents are very much with us, even though they’re not physically here. They can help us, especially in our G-dly endeavors. (I told him I wasn’t sure what they could do for his golf game though.) And because this material world is the place where G-d wants us to make His presence felt, we should do more mitzvos in our parents’ memory, because they’re no longer here to do them.

I know my mother loved hearing about my blog, even if she called it a “glob.” So if you had a special appreciation for this “glob” post, well, maybe she’s helping already.

My sister-in-law Deborah wrote an obituary for Pittsburgh’s Jewish Chronicle. To read it, please click on the link below.








  1. Reply

    Shaina S

    What a beautiful tribute, sentiments that are too profound to express.

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Thank you, Shaina…may we have all our loved ones back with the coming of Moshiach NOW!

  2. Reply


    I loved this. So touching and such a beautiful tribute.

    This was indeed a special “glob” post. And what I will take away from it is your mother’s simple truth about Moshiach: “I’m ready.”

    Wishing you much love and comfort,

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      It was a hard one to write, of course, and even harder since I couldn’t start until yesterday. We Jewish mothers confer the gift of G-dliness–what could be better?
      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Leah…

  3. Reply


    Probably the deepest and most complex of relationships is the mother-daughter relationship.
    I found your post to be commensurate with the depth and complexity of your own relationship with your mom.
    Your words were heart felt and moving. She is basking in your love…..BH

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Thanks, Shells. I know she’s helping…I hope I make her proud!

  4. Reply

    Fay Kranz Greene

    Lieba…what a beautiful glob, job and blog! You offered us a glimpse into your mother’s spiritual life in such a loving way and your sister’s obit gave us an insight into her physical life in an equally beautiful way. She was lucky to have such devoted daughters and undoubtedly a devoted son.

    I hope you will put aside any guilt feelings you may have harbored and just enjoy the memories, strength, wit and wisdom of a wonderful mother. May she have a ‘lichtegen Gan Eden,” and may your family continue to bring her much Yiddishe Nachas. (Is there any other kind?)

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Amen, amen. Thanks, Fay. May have Yiddishe nachas together with Moshiach NOW!

  5. Reply

    Helene Wishnev

    Having lost my mother at a very young age, I have often thought, that it must have been my mother on the “other side” who was looking out for me especially when I was about to make a “wrong” turn. As your dear mother cared so deeply and looked out for her family while she was physically here, that love and caring will surely continue – as you in turn continue to give her so much naches with your “globs” and all the other beautiful mitzvos that you and your family do.
    Much love, Helene

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Jewish mothers never stop, so I hope my dear mother will be no different in her new location. Thank you for your beautiful words, Helene.

  6. Reply

    Barbara Shear

    So very lovely
    It touched me on so many levels

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      So very glad, Barb. Thanks for commenting…

  7. Reply


    So very well written. I am sure it is tough like you said to only list a couple things about your mother when there are so many. It is very indicative of what you write on this blog, which I feel is do something small, one step at a time. You got to say something small here and I can;t wait to read more in the future. One step, one story one lesson at a time.

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Thank you, Shaya. I’m so glad you appreciated this post. And that you took the time to let me know…

  8. Reply

    Cheryl Weisberg

    Thank you Leiba, once again for sharing your most personal and intimate thoughts at such a difficult time. A truly beautiful and very moving tribute to your mother.
    I can only imagine that all the joy and nachos that you and your beautiful family gave to your parents far exceeded any ‘pain’ that you felt they may have endured with the differing lifestyles.

    1. Reply

      Lieba Rudolph

      Thank you for your kind words, Cheryl. I certainly tried to do the mitzva satisfactorily. (But, now that they’re both on the other side, they have a whole new perspective of things!)

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