I just lost my grandmother. She raised her 5 children alone. I am looking for things in the Tanakh or Talmud to cheer my dad up. Is there anything in the Tanakh or Talmud about a woman that raises her children alone?

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    I'm sorry for your loss. May God comfort you and your family, along with everyone else who mourns for Zion and Jerusalem. You know your father and I do not, but it may be worth bearing in mind that not every mourner wants to be cheered up.
    – msh210
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 14:32

5 Answers 5

  • Chiram, the craftsman who designed much of the first Beis Hamikdash, was the son of a widow (1 Melachim 7:14).

  • The woman from Tzorfas who hosted Eliyahu was a widow with a son (1 Melachim 17:9-24), and there's a Midrash (don't remember the location) that he grew up to be the prophet Yona

  • Also the "wife of one of the disciples of the prophets" (2 Melachim 4:1) was a widow with children whom she raised.

  • Reish Lakish's wife raised their son after he passed away, and this son was able to tell R' Yochanan a new explanation of a posuk (Taanis 9a).

  • Yeyasher kochacha. Each of these is likely to be a more useful example than the one I wrote up.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 13:25

It may be worth investigating Tzipora, the wife of Moshe Rabbeinu. She raised their sons without him between the time that he returned to Egypt at God's command and when Yitro brought her and the boys to join the Israelites in the desert (Exodus 18:1-4), which was either after the Exodus or after the Assembly at Sinai when the Torah was given. So, she definitely single-parented for a while, there.

Her agency was highlighted right before that separation period, when she circumcised her son (Exodus 4:24-26), presumably having to do so because Moshe had not done it himself, for whatever reason.

Finally, according to Rashi's comment on Numbers 12:1, Moshe separated from Tzipora essentially permanently, so that he could be constantly ready to receive prophecy. This refers, I believe, specifically to abstaining from sexual relations, but one might speculate that similarly, Moshe's duties as prophet for the ages, teacher of a nation, chief justice, and leader also kept him away from other family involvement, including child-rearing.

  • But as you not, the circumcision took place before they were yet separated, so it has nothing to do with single-mothering.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 21:28
  • @mevaqesh, she wasn't alone, but it was a single-mother-ish thing to have to do.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 21:31
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    This is good, but I think there is contention whether those children ended good or not.
    – user6591
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 23:11
  • @user6591 Moshe's grandson was the priest for Micha's idol (Shoftim 18:30, Bava Basra 109b-110a), but I've never heard of any suggestion that Moshe's own children Gershom and Eliezer turned out bad. Sources?
    – Shamiach
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 5:27
  • @Shamiach in drashos chassam soffer page 168 s.v.ki he builds off Rashi in yisro 19 14 לא פנה אל ביתו and writes ובאמת בני משה רבינו לא נתגדלו בתורה ובמעשים טובים כל כך כשארי תלמידיו. see also his Toras Moshe Bamidbar 4 s.v. vi'ela. However he seemingly contradicts himself in his tshuvos או׳ח סי׳ י׳ב ד.ה. וכעת where he writes they were perfect and as good as Yehoshua.
    – user6591
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 11:18

I understand by raising children you mean to teach them mitzvot

Yes there is in the Talmud a queen ( Queen Helena in Lydda) that taught (rose) her sons to sit in a suka

See suka 2b

If you will answer [with regard to her seven sons] that her sons were minors and minors are free from [the obligation of] the sukkah, since [however] she had seven, there must have been at least one who was [old enough] not to be dependent on his mother; and if you will object that [the duty of educating] a child who is not dependent on his mother is merely a Rabbinical injunction, and she took no heed of a Rabbinical injunction,



  • evidence she was a single mother?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 19:22
  • Hagar raised Yishma'el alone after the two were exiled from Abrtaham's house

(You didn't indicate that you were seeking only "Jewish" sources).

  • Naomi raised Machlon and Kilion after Elimelech died

Chana and her seven sons in the Chanuka story

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    While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 19:57
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    What @NoachmiFrankfurt said. Plus, how do you know she raised her children alone?
    – msh210
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 20:33

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