In the age where governmental agencies are trying to change “mothers” to “birthing people” and the esteem of the family unit has been demeaned and diminished by progressives, President Biden is to be commended for his stand, or perhaps his lack of standing, as he kneeled out of respect for the frum mother of 12 children who would not even shake his hand.
When the outgoing Israeli President Rivlin met with President Biden in the White House on June 28, 2021, his longtime bureau chief, an Orthodox woman named Rivka Ravitz, was also present. President Rivlin explained to President Biden that his aide, who is strictly Orthodox, does not shake hands with men, which in this day and age would seem to make her an outlier in modern society.
Yet the surprise did not end there. Rivlin then told Biden that as the mother of 12 children, Mrs. Ravitz runs a bustling household. President Rivlin clasped his hands in wonder as, in deference to the mother of a dozen children, President Biden dropped to his knee and kneeled before her out of respect.
This gesture by the leader of the free world was unexpected for several reasons. First, dropping to one’s knee, once considered a symbol of veneration, has been transformed into a sign of disrespect, contempt and scorn. By displaying his admiration in this manner, the President may have inadvertently invalidated the use of this gesture as a way of showing disapproval of America. However, the reason he went down on his knees may be even more disappointing to his fellow progressives, and perhaps give comfort to the heroic parents who work so hard to raise their children properly in these tumultuous times.
Several weeks ago, the Biden administration presented a budget which canceled motherhood. “The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, with an unacceptably high mortality rate for Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and other women of color. To help end this high rate of maternal mortality and race-based disparities in outcomes among birthing people…” (emphasis added), the 2022 White House fiscal year budget includes various proposals.
While conservative groups were up in arms about the ludicrous term, progressives hailed it as a new milestone in the path towards inclusion. “When we talk about birthing people, we’re being inclusive. It’s that simple,” one group wrote.
While the term “mother” may be limited in some circles to the greeting card industry on the second Monday in May, Torah Jews revere our parents, mothers and fathers. We are in awe of both our mothers and our fathers, and we honor both our parents. We do that because we place parenthood on a pedestal as one of the highest callings available to humans.
President Biden displayed his own admiration and awe for Mrs. Ravitz, and he was undeterred by her not shaking his hand. He realized that she was not doing this out of disrespect, but rather out of respect for a Higher calling. He soon realized that her calling included her devotion to her family. And in deference to her raising her large family, the President lowered himself to his knees out of respect.
He earned our respect for this simple gesture.