יום רביעי י"ז בשבט תשפ"ב 19/01/2022
Search
  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

    Read More...

בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

    Read More...

Place

  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

    Read More...

Join Our Mailing List!

Please add a Valid Email Address
Join
Thanks!

Reflections

Our Matriarch Rachel

Rachel was the youngest matriarch and hers was a short life of pain and suffering. She is the one who stands before G-d and beseeches Him to end the suffering of His people in the exile and bring about the final redemption.

Motty Meringer 29/10/2009 09:00
Our matriarch Rachel was the younger twin of our matriarch Leah. They were both daughters of Laban of Paddan-Aram. Laban was the son of Bethuel and the brother of our matriarch Rebecca, wife of our patriarch Isaac and mother of our patriarch Jacob. Laban had no sons, which is why his daughters served as the shepherds of his herds – a task usually filled by males. Already at the tender age of fifteen, Rachel would look after her father's sheep, and that is how she came about to meet Jacob for the first time near the well. Jacob had escaped from Beer Sheba out of fear from his brother, Esau, from whom he had taken Isaac's blessings. At the urging of his parents, Jacob escaped to Haran, his mother's country of origin, in order to take a wife from his mother's family. On route to Haran, Jacob stopped at the Yeshiva of Shem and Eber. There he stayed for the next fourteen consecutive years while totally immersing himself in Torah studying. As he left for Haran, he did what Eliezer, Abraham's faithful servant, had done: he searched for a well and settled near it. At the well he met some shepherds and asked them if they might know Laban. They responded that, yes they do, and 'here is Rachel, his daughter, with the sheep'. When he asked them why they were all gathered around the well, they explained that the well was covered with a heavy stone so as to prevent the stealing of its waters, and that several people were needed in order to push away the stone. As they were talking, Rachel approached the well, and Jacob immediately pulled away the stone with such ease as if he had taken off a cap from a bottle. After he had given water to the sheep, he told Rachel that he was her cousin, and Rachel hurried home to inform her father about his arrival.

Following the meeting between Laban and Jacob, Jacob stayed at Laban's house for a whole month, during which he served as a shepherd of Laban's sheep. As the month drew to an end, Laban asked Jacob in which way he wanted to be repaid, to which Jacob replied that he wished the hand of his daughter Rachel. Laban agreed and they came to an agreement that Jacob would work seven years for Laban as a shepherd, after which he would be able to marry Rachel. The seven years passed ever so quickly, and the wedding day was drawing nearer.

Laban had another daughter, Leah, who was Rachel's elder twin. The people of that generation would say that as Rebecca and Isaac have two twin sons and Laban has two twin daughters – the eldest twin son, Esau, should marry the eldest twin daughter, Leah, and the youngest twin son – Jacob - should marry the youngest twin daughter, Rachel. As Leah grew older, she would frequently weep over her fate to be married to the wicked Esau – so much so that her eyes were constantly swollen. Laban, who was a swindler, had planned to deceive Jacob by replacing Rachel with Leah on the night of the wedding so that Jacob would actually marry Leah. However, Jacob knew of his uncle's nature and had prepared himself for such a scenario; therefore, he gave Rachel special signs prior to the wedding, known only to the two of them.

Rachel would show those signs to Jacob on the night of the wedding so that he would be able to know for certain that the bride really is Rachel. During the wedding, it became known to Rachel that her father was to replace her with Leah and she revealed the secret signs to Leah so that she would not be embarrassed. As Jacob heard the signs from Leah, he was certain that he had married the right woman. But alas, the morning after the wedding he discovered that he had married Leah and not Rachel! He quickly made his way to his new father-in-law and confronted him about the deception. Laban responded that it is not customary that the younger sister should marry before the older sister. He then offered Jacob to marry Rachel after the seven days of celebration, after which he would work for an additional seven years as his shepherd. Jacob agreed and married Rachel seven days thereafter, with Rachel being twenty two years old. The Gemara tells us that because of the great modesty that Rachel had demonstrated as she revealed the secret signs to her sister Leah, she merited to have a truly modest descendant – King Saul, who was known for his humbleness and modesty, as well as Queen Esther, who was the descendant of Rachel and Saul.

As time went by, however, it became evident that Rachel would not merit bearing children, whereas her sister Leah's sons were born one after the other in quick succession. Rachel yearned for a child of her own and accused Jacob of not supporting her in her distress. She said to him: "Give me children, and if not I shall die". After a long discussion, Rachel gave Jacob her personal servant Bilhah, and expressed her desire to bear him children through her. And indeed, Rachel had two children through Bilhah whom she called Dan and Naftali.

Rachel demonstrated her heroism and exceptional character traits in the incident with the mandrakes: It all began when Reuben, Leah's son, found some mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother. As Rachel caught sight of the mandrakes, she desired them for herself, and asked Leah to grant her them. Leah responded: "Is it not enough that you have taken my husband – do you also wish to take my son's mandrakes?" Rachel was well aware that Jacob had only desired to marry her, and his marriage to Leah was solely thanks to Rachel's pity on her sister and her revealing the secret signs to Leah. Nevertheless, Rachel did no utter a single word.

Eman

Finally, the time had come and G-d sent Rachel her heart's desire; she gave birth to a boy whom she named Joseph – meaning 'he will gather' – as G-d had gathered her shame and disgrace of not having any children by granting her this son.
After his birth, Jacob and his family left Laban's household. Prior to their departure, Rachel secretly took away her father idols so as to prevent him from idolatry, and packed them in her bags together with her own belongings. Jacob was unaware of this, and as Laban chased after him to regain his idols Jacob swore that whoever would be found with the idols would die.

Laban did not find his idols, however the words of a righteous person are extremely powerful and Jacob's statement eventually led to Rachel's premature death. In the middle of their journey, Rachel gave birth to her second son, Benjamin; however the difficult labor resulted in her tragic death. Before she died, she succeeded in naming her son and called him 'Ben Oni' – meaning 'son of misfortune' as his birth was unbearably difficult. Jacob later changed his name to Benjamin.
Our matriarch Rachel passed away on the 11th of Heshvan at the young age of 36. She was buried by Jacob on the road that led to Ephrata, which is Bethlehem.

Many years after Rachel's death, when Jacob was dying in Egypt, he explained to his son Joseph that he had buried Rachel in Bethlehem, as opposed to the Machpelah cave were the patriarchs and matriarchs were buried, because he had prophesied that the Children of Israel were to be expelled from their land in the future, and on their way to exile they would pass Bethlehem and pray at the gravesite of Rachel, their mother, who will have pity on her children and beseech G-d to redeem them. As the verse in Jeremiah says: "And so said G-d a loud voice is heard, a bitter weeping and bemoaning, Rachel cries for her children and refuses to be consoled, for her children are no more. So said G-d withhold your voice form crying and your eyes from tearing, for you will be rewarded for your effort says G-d and your children will return form the land of the enemy, and there is hope in the final days says G-d, and your children will return to their promised land."
Rachel's burial site has served as a place of prayer and cries for the final redemption throughout the generations to the Jewish People.