Excerpt from Genesis 29:31—30:24
“In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.’ But she said to her, ‘Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?’ Rachel said, ‘Then he may lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.’”
Reflection by Donna Schaper
Have you ever noticed that what people really want is respect? The mandrake of respect. They can put up with poverty, but can’t live without respect. They can put up with not being recognized for their labor, but not live a minute without respect. When Rachel and Leah squabble about the adultery, they are saying something more than they no longer like each other. One is saying to the other. Enough. “R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me,” as only Aretha Franklin can sing it.
Everybody has a breaking point. Your partner can leave the dishtowel on the floor 99 times and the 100th time you declare the most intimate of catastrophes. Your child can throw 15 tantrums on Wednesday only to be screamed at for the first one on Thursday. Everybody has a mandrake. The shrinks like to call these things triggers. Don’t you love gun metaphors?
War will stop if we learn how to give respect. Street crime will decrease if young men find someone who understands that they don’t really like school and that they need a little respect. And as St. Francis fully understood, you need to notice to be noticed, love to be loved – and respect to be respected. Respect is the avant-garde of issues, the early soldier on the field. It is not the rear guard of matters. Take my husband, but for God’s sake at least leave me a mandrake.
Whatever happens between us and our friends and family, O God, let it issue in respect, first given, and then received. We know you will take it from there. Amen.
About the Author
Donna Schaper is the Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is Sacred Chow: a Guide to Holy Eating.
Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.
“The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; [the Lord] upholds the orphan and the widow.”
– Psalm 146:7-9
“I trace the rainbow through the rain and see the promise is not in vain.”
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