How can Shlomo write in Mishlei 1:8b, וְאַל-תִּטֹּשׁ, תּוֹרַת אִמֶּךָ, "don't abandon the Torah of your mother" if the Mitzvah of teaching one's sons - וללמדו תורה אבל לא האם - and learning Torah - ותלמוד תורה - and the Mitzva of having children - פריה ורביה - are exemptions or optional for a woman?

I understand that one can also take "Torah" in this passage to mean "Minhag" or whatever Remez/Drash/Sod it can mean, but my question is simply in the Pshat level of Mishlei 1:8b, וְאַל-תִּטֹּשׁ, תּוֹרַת אִמֶּךָ

This question grew out of the answer of Danny Schoemann in the discussion here: In how many of the 613 mitzvot are women obligated?

  • 1
    I don't understand what the contradiction is. Optional things can be valuable too
    – Double AA
    Aug 30, 2017 at 11:37
  • @DoubleAA do the words of Mishlei 1:8b, וְאַל-תִּטֹּשׁ, תּוֹרַת אִמֶּךָ to be heeded optionally? If yes, and you can source it, then I understand your comment.
    – ninamag
    Aug 30, 2017 at 11:52
  • 1
    No that's not what I meant. It's optional for the woman to have children and teach them as you said, and Mishlei says those teachings are valuable. There is no contradiction or anything not understood in that.
    – Double AA
    Aug 30, 2017 at 11:56
  • 2
    Is there a peshat level to the Book of Allegories?
    – Loewian
    Aug 30, 2017 at 13:11
  • @Loewian allegories or whatever, it is not our Jewish way to violate the pshat level of a passage of Scripture; kosher allegories do not violate the pshat level of a Scriptural passage
    – ninamag
    Sep 1, 2017 at 16:29

2 Answers 2


Rashi says that

your mother: Heb. אמך [like אמתך], your nation, the nation of Israel, as in (Ezek. 19:2): “What a lioness was your mother [meaning your nation]!” These are the words of the Scribes, which they innovated and added and made safeguards for the Torah.

That is, the way that your mother raised you, to follow the Torah and keep the mitzvos of Hashem are the way you are to live your lives. This includes the learning and the minhagim and all the proper practices of life.

  • In view of this fact which you have written ... then it should be mandatory, and not an optional, for women to do the following mitzvoth: of teaching one's sons - וללמדו תורה אבל לא האם - and of learning Torah - ותלמוד תורה - and having children - פריה ורביה - ?
    – ninamag
    Aug 30, 2017 at 11:44
  • @ninamag no. thhis is what the individual should do to learn and act properly. This does not say what the mitzvos require of a woman. Aug 30, 2017 at 12:09
  • i think your answer is yes on the following question, but i just want to make sure, "Do the Mitzvoth say what it requires of a man?"
    – ninamag
    Aug 30, 2017 at 12:21
  • @ninamag There are mitzvos requiring things of men and women , but that is another question. Aug 30, 2017 at 12:26

Mishlei is a book of משלים, parables or figures. The pshat of a figure cannot be its literal meaning or it would not be a parable, it would be a non-figurative statement. Since the whole premise of the book is that it speaks figuratively it would be contrary to pshat to interpret anything in it literally.

The traditional pshat understanding of this verse is that it refers to the same "mother" as does Hosea 5: the identity of the community of Israel. So explains Rashi here, and this is why the verse is taken as a source that we should not forsake our people's practices. This is not a drasha, it is pshat: Do not forsake the teaching of the one who is identified with the משל "mother" -- i.e. your people.

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