Rambling ...

I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Weeping Woman .... Rachel Immeniu!

"Rachel cries for her children, she will not be comforted…"

This Shabbat, Saturday, the 11th day of Cheshvan in the Hebrew calendar, is traditionally observed as the Yahrzeit of Rachel Immeniu, marking the anniversary of her death some 3,600 years ago. Rachel's husband Yaakov buried her on the side of the road, and according to the prophet Yerimayhu,  Rachel later wept as "her children" were exiled from the land of Israel.  Rachel was Yaakov's most beloved wife and was the principal of his household and thus the principal of the entire house of Israel.  Thus, Rachel is considered a special figure for Segulot & Davening.  'Mama Rochel'  is such a special lady that not only do we light a yahrzeit candle in her honour ~ it is a Mitzvah to honour our parents ~ but we commemerate the 11th of Chesvan as Jewish Mothers Day in her honour and we recommit to her guidance in our lives as Jewish women.

From the first day of the year, the 1st day of Tishrei, the 11th day of Cheshvan is the 41st day. 41 is the numerical value of the Hebrew word "eim," which means "mother," thus the 11th of Cheshvan is truly the Jewish Mother's Day.  Also , it is significant that conception is actualised in Shamayim as a reality on the 40th day from conception.  This is the day the soul enters the child and the 'sex' is determined.   This is also the day the bashert , or life 'match' or partner ~ of the same neshama ~ is chosen in Shamayim.  It is the day the pregnancy ~ life is breathed into the embryo & it becomes a fetus is actualised and acknowledged in Judaism.

The figure of our matriarch Rachel is the one most associated in Kabbalah with the building of Jewish nature, the inbred character of an individual who walks willingly and naturally in the Ha'Shems Derech.   Jewish nature and character, best exemplified by the patriarchs and matriarchs, calls upon an individual to perform G‑d's will out of his or her own accord, a state described by the sages as "acting without dictation [from Above]."   Just as our matriarch Ahava, "the mother of all life,"   is the mother of human nature,   so our matriarch Rachel is the mother of our unique Jewish nature.  The month of Cheshvan is thus the time to recommit to our mother's guidance and reconstitute our Jewish nature and character.

And so, at least 100,000 Jews ~ mostly women ~ are expected to visit Kever Rachel  ~ Rachel's Tomb ~  this weekend.  Her burial site,  located between Y'rushalayim  and Beit l'chem,  has been venerated by Jews for centuries.  Rachel's tomb is Judaism's third-holiest site, has been the scene of prayer and pilgrimage for more than three thousand years.  In 1622,  the Ottoman governor of Jerusalem permitted Jews to build walls and a dome over the grave, and they still stand today .... although further fortified and enclosed today.  

Rachel constantly mourns over the exile of her children, the Jewish people,  in fact, Rachel lost her own spiritual luxury ~ She gave up her place next to her husband a second time when, instead of a burial spot in the family plot in Hevron, she accepted a lonely burial,  on the side of a deserted road. She did this in order to be there for her children who would live tens of centuries later ....... Rachel is the quintessential Jewish mother, sacrificing for our well-being and security. This feeling of limitless love and motherly concern is what draws people to her tomb to this day.   In addition, Rachel herself was childless for many years before she was granted children. Women who are suffering from infertility, in particular, travel to her tomb to pray.


Rachel, the beloved wife of the third Patriarch, Ya'acov,  actually died in child birth on the way to Hevron returning to his family's home. They set out from Bayt-El,  but when they were still some distance from Efrat, Rachel went into childbirth, and she had hard labour. When her labour was at it's hardest, the midwife said to her, "Have no fear, for it's a living child you bear, another boy for you." But as she breathed her last, as she was dying, she named him Ben-Oni, but his father called him Benyamin.  So Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Efrat ~ now Beit l'chem.  Over her grave Ya'acov set up a pillar, it is the pillar at Rachel's grave to this day.  ~ Torah, Parshat Vayishlach  ~ Bereshis 35:16-21 ~

Ya'acov buried Rachel at this spot, rather than a the family burial plot at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron, (which has incidentally also been declared a 'mosque' by the UN) because he foresaw that his descendants would pass this site during the the forced exile to Babylon in the year 423 B.C.E.  And then Rachel would pray for their safety and ultimate return, as it's written ~ Rachel, weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children who are gone. Thus said HaShem ~ 'Restrain your voice from weeping, your eyes from shedding tears for there is reward for your labour' declares HaShem. 'They shall return from the enemy's land and there is hope for the future' declares HaShem  'Your children shall return to their own country'   ~  Yiramiyahy 3:15-17 ~

So Ya'acov set up a monument over her lonely grave site so that exiled Jews would recognize it and pray and be comforted as they were being led into captivity. Ancient writings describe the grave marker as 12 stones that represented the 12 tribes of Israel with one large stone that symbolized Ya'akov.

Since the time of her burial the Tomb of Rachel has always been a special place for prayer. To this very day, men and women go to Rachel's Tomb to shed tears and beg "Momma Rochel" to intercede with Ha'Shem on their behalf ~ for the health of a loved one or for Divine intervention for those in need. Rachel, the childless woman who ultimately became mother of the Jewish People, has become a special symbol of hope for childless women ~ teaching them the power of prayer. Hundreds of requests are sent every month to the Committee For Rachel's Tomb from Jews world wide, requesting prayers to be said on behalf of the ill, the childless and those in need of a special blessing.

The palestinian authority has claimed that Rachel's Tomb is holy to Muslims as the site of a mosque called the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque.   Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, Rabbi of the Western Wall, has termed the decision “outrageous”.  “They have never said in the past that this was a Muslim holy site. The [UN] organization responsible for heritage has turned heritage into politics.”   Israel should think carefully about whether or not to cooperate with UNESCO in the future, he said.  Israel's Foreign Ministry has also denounced the UNESCO ruling.  Danny Ayalon will have no truck with this trash.  Under Ottoman rule, Rachel's Tomb was a Jewish site.  Only in 1996 did the PA begin to call the site the 'Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque', he said.

 From the Byzantine period until the 1800's Rachel's Tomb consisted of a tiny domed structure. It was Sir Moses Montifeori who renovated the Tomb in 1841 and added on an anteroom and enclosed the dome over the grave marker so that pilgrims could find shelter from the elements. The town of Bethlehem has grown several fold and where once Mother Rachel's Tomb was in an open area on the road side, today it stands in the centre of the town with one of the main streets passing right next to it.

Since 1948 Muslims have created their own cemetery surrounding the building on three sides. For political purposes, Muslims claim that Rachel's Tomb is one of their burial plots and that it contains a Muslim notable rather than Mother Rachel. This is absolute hogwash ..... it is a fabrication made up after the Jewish State of Israel was declared & stands alongside that other fiction, the 'palestinian' people!!

 This land has treasonably been granted to Arafat & the 'palestinian' people. The tomb has been enlarged & encased for it's protection as we see in the modern photograph above. The new Rachel's Tomb consists of the previous structure housed within the expanded and reinforced edifice. New additions include the 2 guard towers in the above picture. This new Rachel's Tomb complex is a modern and stately building that has been designed to protect the tomb and those inside, yet it's interior retains the intimacy and unique serenity that has been characteristic of Rachel's Tomb.

Tens of thousands of Jews will today visit Rachel's Tomb to mark the Matriarch's Yartheit  The tomb is located within Bethlehem city limits, but remained under Israeli control when the rest of Bethlehem was transferred to Palestinian Authority control.  Journalist Nadav Shragai, writing for Yisrael Hayom, noted that Muslims living in the land of Israel have historically referred to Rachel's Tomb as “Kubat Rahel,” the Arabic term for “Rachel's Tomb.”

Rachel's Tomb is a living symbol of Ha'Shem's promise to Rachel that her children will return to the Land Of Israel. Jewish life today thrives in Rachel's Tomb. In these days, despite the on-going war of attrition people still go to recite Tehillim, daven and learn Torah. Classes by renowned Jewish speakers are held there. Rachel's Tomb has also become a place of joy as Britot and Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations are held within it's walls. The Committee For Rachel's Tomb is sponsoring the Rachel's Tomb Educational Centre which reaches out to the thousands of teenagers visiting Israel and to Israeli students,  teaching Jewish heritage through the legacy of the Matriarch Rachel and the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

And Ha'Shem answered Rachel's tears .... "Restrain your voice from weeping,  "Hold back your eyes from their tears.  For your work has its reward and your children shall return to their border."
~ Yirmiayhau 31.16 ~

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