Geshem: Verses for Our Mothers

Found In: Shemini Atzeret

Tags: tefillat hageshem

By Mark Frydenberg, Translated by Rabbi Simhcha Roth | Prayer

Sarah:

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.

Rebecca:

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.

Rachel:

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.

Leah:

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.

Miriam:

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.

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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.