Rachel's Tomb
Rachel's TombINN:MB

Cheshvan 11, which falls on Octobr 26 this year, is the yahrzeit of Rachel Imenu, Rachel the Matriarch, or as she is called in Yiddish, Mame Rochel. One that day, many thousands are accustomed to visiting her tomb in Behtlehem, but this year, the IDF has announced that it will not be possible due to the security situation.

Why do so many people, especially women, find comfort in visitng Rachel Imenu's tomb?

Why does Rachel Imenu have such a unique place in the Jewish People’s collective consciousness?

Why do so many women come to pray, weep, and perform the mitzva of 'taking' challah at her grave?

Why was the wedding gown of Nava Applebaum, murdered by terrorists the night before her wedding, hung there?

Perhaps it is because we feel that Rachel Imenu mirrors the essence of women's lives. Rachel's life was filled with the sacrifices and sorrows that women understand: Jacob fell in love with her, yet she gave up her beloved for her sister Leah's sake and made sure that Leah was not humiliated, she was chiildless and then died in childbirth so that she did not raise the two sons she prayed for. She was buried at the wayside and not in Hebron as the other Matriarchs were.

And that is why the midrash says that G-d listened only to her when she prayed to Him at the time of the Temple's destruction.

…רָחֵל מְבַכָּה עַל בָּנֶיהָ מֵאֲנָה לְהִנָּחֵם עַל בָּנֶיהָ כִּי אֵינֶנּוּ

…Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted over her children, who are gone.

Her suffering, her willingness to sacrifice, her love are the reasons she alone among the Matriarchs and Patriarchs succeeds in pleading with God to restore the Jewish People to the Land of Israel

וְיֵשׁ תִּקְוָה לְאַחֲרִיתֵךְ נְאֻם ה’ וְשָׁבוּ בָנִים לִגְבוּלָם

And there is hope for your future —declares Hashem:
Your children shall return to their country

We long to visit Mame Rochel's tomb this year to pray for the return of the over 200 hostages kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on Simchat Torah, but as we cannot, we can light a candle in her memory on the night of her yahrzeit and pray for their safety.

After all, Mame Rochel was promised that her sons would return.

May that promise, fulfilled when the Jews returned to build the Second Temple and once again, when they returned to establish a state, be fulfilled once more when we see our soldiers and all the hostages returned to us safe and sound, with G-d's help.

Light a candle for Mame Rochel's yahrzeit and pray for their safe return.

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Many songs have been written about Rachel, her weeping for her people, and the promise she was given. One of them, written after the Six Day War when Bethlehem returned to the Jewish people, is especially fitting this year. It tells her that we have returned, and will never leave her again.

It was written in Hebrew by Shmuel Rosen and is translated here.

We Will Not Leave Again

See the road dust rising from the City of Shalem

And the iron chariots charging in front of your city

And the whole nation, looking at you as if dreaming

Steel wings circling, circling above your tomb.

Behold Rachel, behold,

Behold, Ruler of the World,

Behold Rachel, behold,

They have returned to their borders.

See the winds of Iyar bearing columns of steel,

Benjamin is with us here, and Joseph as well,

The star over Beth Lekhem tremblingly gleams,

Both the vanguard is with us and the rear.

Restrain your voice, Rachel, hold back your voice from crying,

All of us are here, Rachel, with our backpack on our shoulders.

We won’t leave you again, Rachel, and you will not leave us again,

We won’t leave again, Rachel, from the fields of Beth Lekhem

Arik Lavie's rendering of the song is the classic one here. (There is an English recording,but it is not him singing)