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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kever Rachel’

Tales of Rachel’s Tomb, a Strange Fire, the Golden Graft, the True Foundation

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

BREAKING NEWS:  An illegal and unauthorized group tried to forcibly enter Beit Bnei Rachel in the Rachel Tomb walled complex today, reported Dov Shurin, a radio host who serves as the house manager.  The police were forced to respond and prevent the trespass, as the group which has made previous attempts to remove any trace of the rightful owner of the building, Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation (RCRF), continued in their efforts to destroy the foundation. The group accosted one of the women who studies with RCRF for the building key and resorted to trying to break the locks on the back door to enter the building. The group tried to break in again with an axe at  1:30am Israel time and the police have responded again. Damages to doors today are $1000. Damages since their occupation are immeasurable.

The police ultimately denied access to the unauthorized group and instructed them that they must take all of their claims to court.  This sends a strong message to the group that has long evaded the legal process that they cannot continue their strong-arm tactics and invade the property that was purchased by RCRF in 2001.

Despite today’s confrontation, Dov Shurin announced that all RCRF activities will continue as they have for the past decade and encouraged the public to come to Beit Lechem to study, pray, and learn the ancient but timely lessons of Rachel Imeinu.

_________________ Rachel Imeinu, the Jewish Mother par excellence, was – according to Biblical sources – buried “on the way” from Jerusalem to Hebron, in Bethlehem to plead for her children going into exile and to welcome them back upon their return. Bethlehem was the home of Boaz, Ruth, Naomi, and King David. King Solomon exempted the residents of Bethlehem from taxes because of his personal attachment to the place where King David was a shepherd and wrote the Tehillim that we read with passion today when we encounter problems and the need for tikkun. Rachel has always been a symbol of the unity of the Jewish people, whose sacrifice on behalf of her sister has inspired Jewish women to emulate her as a role model.

Helping to protect and reclaim the burial site of Rachel Imeinu became my mission in 1995.  I formed Rachel’s Children Reclamation Foundation (RCRF), a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation when Rachel’s Tomb was on the Oslo chopping block. Some government officials suggested giving away Rachel’s Tomb (“Kever Rachel”) or even moving it. Klal Yisrael rallied; Rabbi Menachem Porush and Chanan Porat cried. My organization was instrumental in having hundreds of petitions, proclamations from US officials, as well as children’s letters sent daily in support of retaining Rachel’s Tomb for the Jewish people. PM Rabin responded to the outcry by adding an amendment to the September 28, 1995 Oslo Agreement that put Rachel’s Tomb in area C, completely under Israel control as part of the larger designated area which reaches beyond the area where the separation fence was constructed.

On the day of PM Rabin’s Assassination, 50,000 people were visiting Ima Rachel’s kever on her yahrzeit. On that weekend, I chaired a 3-day Conference of the Women’s Branch of the OU in Washington, DC. The theme of the event was “Breaking the Silence” and the theme song, “We are Rachel’s Children” was introduced that day.

From rallying Rachel’s children to reclaim their identity and holy roots, to purchasing and delivering a Sefer Torah to the empty un-walled streets in front of Rachel’s Tomb, to petitioning to have regular scheduled trips of Egged buses eight times daily, RCRF now finds itself in a dilemma: whether to be silent like Rachel or cry like Rachel. I have learned to have savlanut, patience, but during  the last year and a half conditions at the property for which my foundation provided the majority of funds to purchase and establish Beit Bnei Rachel adjacent to Kever Rachel have continually deteriorated. This has required me to deal with one obstacle after another. I have given not just money, but my heart and soul, and my activities are for all Bnei Rachel.  I work five months a year in Israel doing programming, events, and teaching Derech Eretz in the Rachel’s Tomb complex. While in America I work many hours throughout the night coordinating with the staff and officials in Israel. We had the most lofty dreams when we partnered together to build the Rachel’s Tomb complex, and my foundation originally purchased the valuable property next to Kever Rachel to build a Beit Bnei Rachel in partnership with a group that contributed no funds, but was responsible for purchasing, maintaining and improving the property and assisting us in realizing our dream and establishing a proper yeshivah at the site. The leaders of that group have seemingly abandoned those ideals in an attempt to seize title and control of the valuable land adjacent to Kever Rachel.

My Machberes

Friday, February 10th, 2012

The Red Strings Of Kever Rachel

Many question the alleged powers of the red strings from Kever Rachel. Supposedly, one who wears a red string that was wound around Rachel’s tomb is protected from the evil eye as well as other negative influences. Some men carry red strings in their wallets, and women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant sometimes wear red strings around their waists.

Kever Rachel

Dubious peddlers of Kabbalah promise all types of mystical powers for anyone willing to pay exorbitant prices for their red stings guaranteed to have come from Kever Rachel. These same impostors recently organized a “mystical” dance by men and women, Jewish and non-Jewish, together on the rooftop of Kever Shimon bar Yochai (Kever Rashbi) in Meron, where they also recited the Kaddish, making it into a mockery.

Some have likened the red strings of Kever Rachel to superstitious practices resembling idol worship as described in Tosefta Shabbos 7:1, where certain practices, including tying a red string around one’s finger, are prohibited because of “darchei emori.” The practice of having the string wound around Kever Rachel seven times is cited as “traditional,” with out any specifics.

In a responsum published in 1987, Rabbi Moshe Stern, zt”l (1914-1997), Debretziner Rav and author of Beer Moshe, responded to an inquiry regarding tying strings on children to ward of the evil eye. He wrote: “That was the common practice; they were careful to tie a red string on the carriage or the crib of a child because of the evil eye. All of these are the practices of elderly women, regarding which the Rashba wrote that we should not mock their words and practices, for they are certainly founded in the sacred origins, even if we have forgotten the reasons.”

In a letter to the editor of Der Blatt, the popular Satmar Yiddish weekly, a reader, responding to an article on the history of Kever Rachel in which the author stated that the segulah of the red string has no Jewish source and that the practice is a non-Jewish one, claimed to have asked a respected chassidishe rebbe about this and was given a number of citations, among which were the following:

Sefer Yesod Likra, by Rabbi Aryeh Leib Liphshitz and Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Lipshitz-Halberstam, published in Jerusalem in 1927, and republished in 2003 by the Kever Rachel Institute: “The custom of winding red string around Kever Rachel becomes blessed and …it is an established segulah to ward off pains and the evil eye, for fertility, easy birth, and more.”

Sefer V’zeh Shaar Hashamayim by Rabbi Dovid Rozoff: “That it is an old custom to tie the red string around the neck or wrist, as a protection against many dangers, especially for pregnant women. First one should wind the string around the monument at Kever Rachel, thus transforming it to a segulah, proven effective time after time.”

Sefer Shut Meoros Noson by Rabbi Noson Geshtetner, zt”l (1932-2010), rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ponim Me’iros and rav of Kiryas Agudas Yisroel in Bnei Brak: “Red string is wound around the monument of our Mother Rachel and is tied around the wrist for a segulah and for a yeshuah. It is well known that our mothers and grandmothers did so from the earliest times, and that it is a tradition passed down from generation to generation….”

Expanded Simcha Of The Vishnitzer Chassunah

On Wednesday, February 1, Yoel Yesochor Dov Berish Shneibalg married the daughter of Rabbi Meir Teitelbaum, son of Rabbi Yosef Teitelbaum, Neplemitzer Rav in Boro Park. Rabbi Meir is the son-in-law of Rabbi Yisroel Eliezer Fish, Biksader Rebbe; who is a son of Rabbi Nochum Zvi Fish, zt”l (d. 2003), Biksader Rebbe; son of Rabbi Eliezer Fish zt”l Hy”d(1880-1944), Biksader Rebbe and author of Shem Eliezer murdered in the Holocaust. Rabbi Yisroel Eliezer is a son-in-law of Rabbi Mordechai Hager, Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe.

Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe

The chassan is the son of Rabbi Yisroel Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Rav in Boro Park; son of Rabbi Moshe Shneibalg, Chernowitzer Rebbe in Williamsburg; son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shneibalg, Manchester Rav. Rabbi Moshe is the son-in-law of Rabbi Eliyahu Aryeh Terkeltaub, zt”l, Asho Rav. Rabbi Menachem Mendel is the son of Rabbi Dovid Shneibalg, zt”l (1894-1969), Vishnitzer dayan and rosh yeshiva in Grossverdein. Rabbi Dovid was appointed rosh yeshiva at the yeshiva’s inception in 1918. Surviving the Holocaust, he established Beis Medrash Machzike Hadaas in Manchester, England.

Rabbi Yisroel Shneibalg is the son-in-law of Rabbi Pinchas Hager, Boro Park Vishnitzer Rav and son of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe. Thus both chassan and kallah are great-grandchildren of the Monsey Vishnitzer Rebbe.

Rising Above Aggravation (Part Two)

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

In last week’s column I described some of the nerve-wracking aggravation inherent to travel. Going to Eretz Yisrael, however, is different. There, everything is different, because Eretz Yisrael is our land. Hashem gave it to us to be our eternal inheritance. So no matter how long we may have been away from her, the land remains as close to us as it was thousands of years ago. We have a teaching, “Whatever happened to our forefathers is a sign for us, their children. In other words, everything is replay.

When our father Jacob, after many years of exile, returned to Eretz Yisrael, he sent a message to Esau that he had been delayed, but was now coming – meaning he had never relinquished ownership of the land, but was merely delayed.

Similarly, for almost two thousand years, we too have been delayed, but throughout, the land was engraved on our hearts and souls. So yes, going to Eretz Yisrael is different, and that which we would find aggravating in other countries somehow does not affect us in the same way in the Holy Land. It’s not that I have some Pollyanna outlook. I am fully aware of the challenges that come with living there, and yet I still maintain that it is different.Allow me to share with you just one example:

Whenever I speak in Israel, I am careful to set time aside to visit the gravesites of our ancestors. So we engaged a taxi and asked the driver to take us to Kever Rachel and to wait for us. Now, taking taxi in Israel is, in and of itself, an experience. Nowhere else can you have a conversation with a driver as you can in Israel.

I am in the habit of asking the driver his name and this usually leads to a big discussion. When I asked this particular driver his name, he replied, “Benjy.”

“You mean Binyamin,” I said.

“What’s the difference, Binyamin or Benjy?” he asked.

“There’s a huge difference,” I responded. “Binyamin has a history; Binyamin has roots. Binyamin represents glory and splendor – the Holy Temple itself was in the territory of Binyamin. But what is Benjy? What history does a Benjy have?”

So we got into a whole discussion about Torah and Judaism, something that can only happen in Israel, and in the end he conceded that Binyamin does represent a legacy that Benjy does not have. Where else but in Israel can this happen?

Before we knew it, we had arrived at Kever Rachel and designated a spot where he should wait for us. There were about a dozen women at the Kever, each engrossed in her individual prayer, shedding tears and pleading for G-d’s mercy. What better place can there be to make such supplications? Regarding Rachel it is written, Kol b’Ramah nishma – a voice is heard above…Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be consoled, and Hashem assures her, “Cease your weeping; wipe your tears. There is reward for your labor. Your children shall come home….”

When we pray at the grave of Mother Rachel, when we shed tears there, we know Rachel is praying with us. She feels our pain and weeps with us, and even as she does so, she gathers our tears and places them in front of G-d’s Throne. Mother Rachel refuses to be consoled until our salvation comes, and that knowledge fortifies us. So I found a place for myself right near her catafalque and started to pray.

I was pouring out my heart – I was in another world – when suddenly I was jarred. A busload of Sephardic women arrived. They made their way into the small room in which we were praying, and as more and more of them entered, I felt as if I were being crushed. I couldn’t move – neither to the right nor to the left.

Since I am slight of build, it doesn’t take much to knock me over, and here I was, being pushed and shoved until I felt I was on the brink of falling. If this had happened to me in any other country, in any other place, I would have been outraged…. At the very least, I would have said, “Ladies, watch where you are going. You are crushing me!” And I must admit that my natural reaction was to voice my protest here as well.

But then I started to think about where I was, and all the pushing and shoving took on a different dimension. I recalled the teaching of our sages that when the Jewish people gathered from throughout the land and ascended to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage festivals, no one ever complained “Tzar lee hamakom – there is no room for me here.” This despite the fact that there were multitudes of people gathered there. So here we were, thousands of years later, at Kever Rachel, and we could not move – but even as our forefathers did, we all found room and prayed as one.

“Mama Rachel, ” I whispered, “behold your children. Millennia have passed since you ascended above and during those thousands of years we, your children, have been cast to the four corners of the world. We were tortured and oppressed. We experienced the barbaric savagery of the nations. Our children were torn from our arms, our blood flowed freely all over the world, and the skies became dark from the smoke of the fires that consumed our people, but despite it all, we, your children never forgot you. We kept your memory alive in our hearts and souls. We knew exactly where you were buried, and now, when Hashem in His infinite mercy allowed us to return to our land, we fought and gave our lives to be able to come to your resting place to pray, to thank you for your endless tears that testify that you never gave up on us.

So, Mother Rachel, just behold these women coming from different parts of the land, pushing and shoving – not for a bargain on a sales day, not to see a rock star, or any of the other attractions that have become synonymous with the 20th or 21st century. None of that would bring these women out. They all came to give you honor and to ask you to pray with them and intercede on their behalf in front of Hashem’s Throne.

It was those thoughts that ran through my mind as I was jostled to and fro in a sea of women. And as if by magic, annoyance turned into inspiration, aggravation into appreciation. And then I whispered yet another prayer: “Who is like Your people Israel, Oh G-d?”

“Hashem,” I prayed, “look down upon Your people and remember that, despite everything, we never forgot You! We never forgot that You commanded our father Jacob to bury our mother Rachel on the roadside so that she might always be accessible to us, her children. And now, thousands of years later, here we are, pouring out our hearts. Yes, “Who is like Your people Israel?”

I finished my davening and tried to make my way out, but no sooner had I emerged from the crowd than another lady approached me. “Come,” she said, “let’s say Nishmas together.”

We had already stayed an inordinate amount of time and were very much behind schedule. The taxi that had brought us and was supposed to be waiting had left long ago. Here we were in Bethlehem (not the friendliest of towns) and we wondered how we would get another taxi – but we could not resist such an amazing invitation, to say Nishmas on the way out of Kever Rachel – “Nishmas kol chai – The soul of every living being blesses and praises You.”

Can there be a more spectacular, meaningful prayer to recite on taking leave of Kever Rachel?

To be sure, if I had been delayed at any other place I would have politely declined. “I’m sorry,” I would have said, “but there is a meeting I have to make.” But here I had all the time in the world and instead of being annoyed my heart was filled with joy. What a zechus – merit – to say Nishmas at Kever Rachel with a group of women who had come from the four corners of the world, who spoke different languages, but who all united as one because they were all the children of Mama Rochel.

It was late when we finally got into another taxi, but I felt like singing with joy. What a magnificent day it had been – to pray as one with Am Yisrael and to be immersed in the fervor that has kept our people alive throughout the centuries.

Kever Rachel Fund Reception

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

A special gathering was held recently in Los Angeles celebrating the continued preservation of Kever Rachel. Miriam Adani, the founder and director of the Kever Rachel Fund, addressed the audience (with the assistance of the translator, Rabbi Korobkin) and showed a video on the present state of Kever Rachel and how it has been a source of comfort and joy for thousands of Jews who visit and pray at this makom kadosh. The evening’s MC, Sandy Kalinsky, introduced Rabbi Boruch Gradon, rosh kollel of the Los Angeles Merkaz Hatorah Community Kollel, who delivered words of chizuk.

 

Some of the projects supported by the Kever Rachel Fund include providing bulletproof buses traveling to the kever, coordinating simchas at the site (including simchas for victims of terror), arranging prayer gatherings, and outreach to Israeli soldiers.

 

The event’s hosts were Jacob and Esther Blaich. Gifts were presented to the Tribute Committee, Rabbi Gradon, the Blaichs, and all those who assisted in the evening’s event.

 

 

 

(L-R) Miriam Adani presenting gift to Esther and Jacob Blaich, hosts of L.A.’s

reception for the Kever Rachel Fund. (Photo credit: Rabbi Arye D. Gordon

Kever Rachel Fund Reception

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

A special gathering was held recently in Los Angeles celebrating the continued preservation of Kever Rachel. Miriam Adani, the founder and director of the Kever Rachel Fund, addressed the audience (with the assistance of the translator, Rabbi Korobkin) and showed a video on the present state of Kever Rachel and how it has been a source of comfort and joy for thousands of Jews who visit and pray at this makom kadosh. The evening’s MC, Sandy Kalinsky, introduced Rabbi Boruch Gradon, rosh kollel of the Los Angeles Merkaz Hatorah Community Kollel, who delivered words of chizuk.

 

Some of the projects supported by the Kever Rachel Fund include providing bulletproof buses traveling to the kever, coordinating simchas at the site (including simchas for victims of terror), arranging prayer gatherings, and outreach to Israeli soldiers.

 

The event’s hosts were Jacob and Esther Blaich. Gifts were presented to the Tribute Committee, Rabbi Gradon, the Blaichs, and all those who assisted in the evening’s event.

 

 

 


(L-R) Miriam Adani presenting gift to Esther and Jacob Blaich, hosts of L.A.’s

reception for the Kever Rachel Fund. (Photo credit: Rabbi Arye D. Gordon

‘Why Do We Have To Leave?’

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Anyone who has been to Israel is familiar with the countless religious, spiritual, and aesthetic attributes the land holds. The country is rich in Jewish tradition and historical significance abounds. There are awe-inspiring sights that leave indelible marks in our minds and souls. Israel is a land that has a special place in all of our hearts.

I have been extremely fortunate to travel to Israel on many occasions. While every trip is special in its own unique way, my most recent trip was the most meaningful one for me yet. I just returned home after traveling to Israel with my eleven-year-old daughter. This was my daughter’s first visit to Israel, and the effect the experience had on her was nothing short of spectacular.

She fell in love with the land the moment we stepped off the plane. Clearly exhausted after the long flight, during which time she was too excited about her journey to sleep, my daughter immediately perked up as her eyes took in the sights around her. Just walking through Ben Gurion Airport on the way to retrieve our luggage and viewing all of the Hebrew signage was exciting for her.

During our time in Israel, we stayed with close family friends who live in Efrat. To the international community, Efrat is simply another one of the “settlements” that many perceive to be an impediment to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. In reality, Efrat is a flourishing and vibrant city that serves as a home to 10,000 residents.

My daughter immediately fell in love with Efrat. It was not just the city’s beauty that captivated her attention; it was the sense of community and camaraderie that permeated the air. The warmth of the families who make Efrat their home and the sense that you are in the midst of a community where Torah and a love for Eretz Yisrael is a fundamental part of people’s lives was not lost on my daughter. Although the rest of the world may consider a community like Efrat to be a nuisance due to its characterization as a “settlement,” to the Jewish people it is one of the backbones of our homeland.

According to my daughter, one of the highlights of our trip was the time we spent in Jerusalem. Whether it was walking through the streets in the center of town, perusing the wares at the Machane Yehuda open-air market, or strolling down the streets of Mea Shearim and Geulah, she thoroughly enjoyed it.

And then there was the Old City. Walking through its streets with my daughter was an experience I will treasure the rest of my life. Visiting the Kotel with her was extraordinary. We stood together at the crossroads of the Jewish universe and watched as Jews from all walks of life, hailing from all over the globe, came together to pray. My daughter was acutely aware of the fact that though people may have been speaking in many different languages, when they stood at that Wall they were all speaking to the same God.

Another highlight of the trip was our journey to Kever Rachel and the city of Hebron. Now that control of Bethlehem has been relinquished to the Palestinians, it has become somewhat of an adventure to access the holy site where our matriarch Rachel is buried. After passing through a security checkpoint and traveling through a colossal corridor of concrete barriers that separate the Jews traveling to Kever Rachel from the Arab residents of Bethlehem, we were fortunate to be able to enter the site and pray that our Mama Rachel will continue safeguarding the Jewish people.

The memory of our time in Hebron is something that will stay with my daughter and me for a long time. Thanks to the Hebron Fund, we were able to visit with some of the residents of Hebron. These people are true Jewish heroes who are on the front line of our ongoing battle to maintain control of a holy site that rightfully belongs to the Jewish people.

Walking with our heads held high through the streets of a city where the small Jewish community is surrounded on all sides by a huge Arab community, and where the signs that adorn many of the storefronts are in Arabic, was a special experience for my daughter. When the voice of the local muezzin shattered the silence with the Islamic call to prayer just as we were ascending the steps leading up to Mearat Hamachpela where our forefathers are buried, it was a stark reminder that though Jews are a minority in Hebron today, they remain an integral part of this holy city that somehow, some way, must always remain in the hands of the Jewish nation.

Rachel Imeinu Cries For Her Children

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

A young man and 12 of his friends went to Kever Rachel to daven for his very sick mother. She had leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. The mother’s family was tested to see if someone was a match. One relative’s marrow matched with 9 out of 10 factors. This was good, but the optimum was 10 out of 10 factors.

After this young man poured his heart out to Mother Rachel, his mother received a call that a perfect match had been found. The donor lived in Eretz Yisrael. Needless to say, the mother was overwhelmed with joy, and felt fortunate that her personal redemption had been found in the Holy Land.

Before the transplant took place, the mother’s rabbi advised her to add a name, as people do when they are very ill.

The mother discussed this issue with her family and, after a few days, they decided on the name Leora, meaning, “To me, there will be light.” She hoped that the transplant would bring her from darkness to light, from illness to good health. When she called her daughter-in-law to let her know about her new name, the daughter-in-law exclaimed, “Ma, I just thought of the same name!”

The fact that both had independently thought of this name made them feel secure that Hashem was overseeing everything, and that He would bless Leora with a full recovery.

Today Leora is home, recuperating from her long illness and feeling very positive.

All mothers make extraordinary efforts for their children. And Mother Rachel did the same for Leora, her special great-great-granddaughter.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/rachel-imeinu-cries-for-her-children/2010/03/24/

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