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[Prayer] at a Mother’s Grave, by Rabbi Moritz Mayer (1866)


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My dear, beloved mother, who sleepest beneath this sod, for ever laid at rest in the lap of earth—thy child draws nigh to thee with the tear of mourning in her eyes, burning even as on the day when they brought thee hither. Thy spirit sojourns upon the heights of eternal light, but couldst thou ever forget thy child, still walking in the shadows of earth? No! a mother’s love is everlasting, eternal, even as her soul is eternal, even as God is eternal who implanted that love in her heart! In pain thou gavest me life, and yet thou didst greet me with a gladsome smile when I lay in thy arms;—thus thou didst ever endure the sufferings of life and accept them with a mother’s smile.—What trouble is there,that thou wouldst shun, what care that thou wouldst not endure for me? As thou wouldst watch at my bed of sickness,—as thou wouldst sacrifice all for me,—as thy first and thy last glance at me was full of self sacrificing love,—as thy heart excused even my failings and thy tear shed at my error was at the same time a tear of forgiveness—sacred spirit of my mother! behold the tears flowing forth from the eye of thy child in the memory of thee,—they are all that I can yet offer unto thee, accept them as a sacrifice of thanks and love!—

Didst not thou teach my lips the first word of prayer and direct the child’s emotions up to God? Didst not thou implant pious thoughts in the heart of thy child? Didst not thou guide my first steps in life, and watch over me day and night? Yea, unto thee I am indebted for the germs of all that is good, for the indestructible seeds of piety, religion and virtue! Yea, here I confess it and spread my confession as a lucid shroud upon thy grave.

How couldst thou be separated from me, though removed from this earth? I feel thy presence by the warm stream of feelings flowing through my soul at this moment. Yea, thou dost still bear with me all my grief, rejoicest in my joys, mournest over my aberrations but thou dwellest in the light of knowledge and truth and knowest the end, and the evanescece of all that is earthly, and art conscious of the mercy of God and, therefore, at ease on account of all my destinies, and invisibly inspirest me with comfort and courage. Thus then I will again, near this thy sleeping-place, resolve firmly and solemnly, to live in thy spirit, to walk in the path of duty and virtue, piety and religion, worthy of thee, unto thy honor and satisfaction. Whatever dispensation may come upon me, I will endure it in memory of thee, as though thou still didst walk before me, admonish and warn me, as though thine eye did still see all my actions, until my hour of departure also shall come, and my spirit ascend to yonder heights, there to be received by thee!

Eternal Father in heaven! preserve peace on this consecrated grave which I irrigate with my tears, that the honored remains of my beloved mother may rest therein undisturbed! And unto her glorified soul mayest Thou vouchsafe an eternal abode of bliss, in which the noble, pure spirit may behold Thy countenance in everlasting joy. Amen.

“At a Mother’s Grave” is one of thirty prayers appearing in Rabbi Moritz Mayer’s collection of tehinot, Hours of Devotion (1866), of uncertain provenance and which he may have written. –Aharon Varady







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