What Only Mom Knows
Rabbi Akiva told Bar Yochai, the paradigm, his student —
this, from the Jerusalem Talmud:
it is enough that myself, your mother, and
know your excellence.
First, it’s enough, his teacher says,
I know, your mother knows, God of course.
In a different version, from the Babylonian Talmud:
it is enough that myself, another person
and God know your excellence.
It is uncertain who the other person is —
it could be your sweetheart, your friend,
maybe your father even
— since he is not working the Exile in those times
and spends most of his days tending a garden
studying the holy texts in the sunshine
learning to play an oud-like instrument popular in Babylonia
— yearning to return home to the Land,
but in the Jerusalem Talmud
it is your mother
she is speaking Hebrew
she is totally devoted to your physical and spiritual nature
she knows what you need
you need two — she tells you — but only two
two who know you
other than God
and the two are Akiva
great teacher, brave antagonist, nice to his children
— your Mom.
james stone goodman