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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Rachel’

Two Very Different Jews Memorialized on Saturday

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Memorials for two memorable Jews took place this weekend, though they stood, perhaps, on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

The Matriarch Rachel, wife of the Patriarch Jacob and mother to biblical figures Joseph and Benjamin, was remembered on the 11th of the Jewish month of Cheshvan, being visited by a reported 70,000+ of her and her husband’s descendants.  Jews from all over Israel and all walks of life came on Friday and Saturday night to pay their respects to the beloved matriarch, who is considered to be the mother of aliyah, said to be weeping for her exiled children by the prophet Jeremiah.

On Saturday night, a somewhat different Jew was also remembered, albeit by a significantly smaller and less pious crowd.  Less than 25,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to remember former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.  Less a celebration of his life and accomplishments than a nostalgic gathering for Oslo and reflection on his murder, the Rabin memorial this year was themed “Remembering the Murder: Fighting for Democracy”.

Jewish Press Staff

Rachel is Weeping Over You!

Friday, October 26th, 2012

The yartzeit of our Matriarch, Rachel, falls this year on Shabbat. Every year, more and more people gather at Rachel’s Tomb to pay respects to the Matriarch who is known as Rachel Emanu – Rachel Our Mother.

Thousands of pilgrims will travel there today and tomorrow from all over the country, and perhaps 200,000 more will make the annual pilgrimage the day after Shabbat, every type of Jew there is, religious and non-religious, Haredim, Hasidim, and Dati Leumi, men, women, and children, busload after busload after busload, from far and near, waiting long hours for their turn to enter the small but beautifully renovated tomb near Betlechem on the way to Efrata .

Rachel’s Tomb is also a very frequented site during the year. The new enclosure houses a Kollel, and while men fill their side of the Tomb around the clock, learning and praying throughout the night, they are outnumbered by the enormous number of women who visit the Tomb, to identify with the mother of the Jewish People and to cry out their prayers for themselves, their families, their children, and for all of the Nation, beseeching the Almighty to grant health and happiness, blessing and salvation, shiduchim-tovim and children, to everyone in distress and need, all in the merit of Rachel Emanu.

While Sarah, Rivka, and Leah are also Matriarchs of the Jewish People, why did Rachel merit the special calling of Rachel Emanu, our mother? On one hand, as the last Matriarch in the chain, we are most directly descended from her. But the reason goes deeper than that. In the Kabbalah, Rachel is identified with the Shechinah, and with the sefirah of Malchut. In her spiritual capacity as the Shechinah, Rachel is truly the mother and provider of the Jewish People, caring, like a mother, for all of her children.

The famous verse of the Prophet Yirmeyahu regarding Rachel declares:

“Thus says the Lord: A voice was heard in Rama, lamentation and bitter weeping – Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted for her children because they are not” (Yirmeyahu, 31:14). What does it mean – “they are not”? It means that Rachel’s children are not in the Land of Israel. It means they have been exiled from the Land. Our Sages tell us that Rachel is not buried with the other Matriarchs in Hevron, but rather “on the way” so that when the Jewish People were exiled from Yerushalayim, as they passed by her Tomb on the way to foreign gentile lands, Rachel would cry over them and beg Hashem to have mercy on them and return them to the Land.

Make no mistake. Rachel’s bitter weeping, still heard today at her Tomb, is over her children in exile. She weeps over you – that’s right – you, the Jews in Brooklyn, and the Jews inLakewood, and her children in LA. You may think things are wonderful, but Rachel’s lamentation and bitter tears are shed over you, filling almost two-thousand years of exile and weeping.

Rachel Emanu weeps over the presidents of Jewish Federations who marry gentiles, and she weeps over the directors of the major Diaspora Jewish organizations who marry Jews. She weeps over the Diaspora rabbis and yeshivas and pop singers and Hollywood directors and stars. Rachel weeps over Sarah Silverman and the tzaddikim who condemn her. She weeps over The Jewish Press and The Jewish News. She weeps over you, you, and you, and yes, she weeps over me, and all of the Jews of Eretz Yisrael who can’t be complete until all of our brothers and sisters return home from their adulterous sojourning in alien gentile lands.

But all is not lost. The Prophet has words of comfort for us and for Rachel:

“Thus says the Lord: Keep thy voice from weeping, and thy eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy; and there is hope for thy future, says the Lord, and thy children shall come back again to their own border” (Yirmeyahu, 31:15-16).

There is hope for the future. You can end Rachel’s tears. You can put an end to your mother’s pain and sorrow. You may believe things are as “colossal” and “gevaltik” as can be in Boro Park, Monsey, the Five Towns, Boca, and Palm Beach, but the Shechinah is weeping over you, and the Holy One Blessed Be He roars out like a lion in the middle of the night over the exile of his children who prefer America to Eretz Yisrael!

Tzvi Fishman

Torah Lengthens Life

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Chazal tell us that Torah is our life and the length of our days. Here is a story that proves this statement quite literally.

In Yerushalayim there lived a family in which all the children passed away at an early age. Everything possible was done to protect the children from illness and the slightest danger, however, it was to no avail. Not one child lived past the age of 18.

The family finally appealed to Rabi Yochanan:

“Please help us, help us to have children who will live to an old age like all normal children.”

Rabi Yochanan responded: “It is possible that you are descendants of Eli Kohen Gadol, whose family was cursed with death before old age. There is only one possible method of help. You must study Torah and make sure that your children study Torah. This is the only assurance of life, as it says: ‘For it is your life and the length of your days.’”

The family heard the words of Rabi Yochanan and all of the members began to study Torah day and night. Baruch Hashem, things changed and their children began living.

Overjoyed, the family met to discuss how to repay Rabi Yochanan.

“What can we give the great Rabi Yochanan for giving us this great lifesaving advice? We know that he will not accept money as he lives simply and is satisfied with what he has. Let us, therefore, repay him by naming our children after him.”

And that is exactly what they did, so much so that they eventually came to be known as the Family of Yochanan.

Rachel, Wife of Rabi Akiva

How often does a wife have the dominant influence over her husband, helping to guide him along the correct path? One woman who did was Rachel, daughter of Kalba Savua, the wife of the great Rabi Akiva.

In Yerushalayim there once lived a very wealthy man by the name of Kalba Savua. He not only possessed great riches, but was also honored greatly by the Jews of his time for he took part in all communal affairs. He had been blessed with a daughter, Rachel, who had great beauty and wisdom.

All the important families in Yerushalayim admired her and wanted her for their sons. They offered a great deal – all that any young maiden could desire. Rachel, however, was persistent in her refusal.

“Wealth is false and mere family lineage is vanity; what is truly important is to find a man who is truthful and of high moral character and principles,” she would say.

Days went by and Rachel continued to refuse the tempting offers of the wealthy families, looking instead for the one person who filled the requirements she considered important.

Her father owned vast numbers of sheep and cattle and Rachel was used to going out in the fields and looking over her father’s property. One time, as she walked she met one of the shepherds. Over time they got to know each other and Rachel was sure that this was the man she wanted to marry.

His name was Akiva the son of Yosef, and he was possessed of wonderful character and moral traits. Unfortunately, he had never been given the opportunity to learn and so he remained woefully ignorant of the Holy Torah. He promised Rachel, however, that if they married he would go and study Torah.

Rachel approached her father: “Father, I have found the man whom I desire to marry and I wish your blessings.”

When Kalba Savua heard these words he was overjoyed.

“I am very happy for you. Who is the man that is to be your future husband?”

“His name is Akiva Ben Yosef, and he is a shepherd who takes care of some of your flocks.”

Kalba Savua turned pale.

“What? I can hardly believe my ears. Do you mean to say that you have refused the hands of so many worthy young men and want to marry an ignorant and worthless shepherd? Stop talking such nonsense and put the thoughts out of your mind lest you bring shame down upon your head and upon that of your family.”

But Rachel only shook her head and said: “No, I have made up my mind and I intend to marry Akiva.”

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Dear Rachel,

It’s been over 40 years and I am still haunted by the ugly memories. As I relive some of the worst moments of my life, I hurt all over again. The crippling wave of emotions that washes over me does a number on me… again and again I am torn between feelings of guilt and rage. Why did I allow it? What was I thinking? How could he have?!

Somehow with the help of G-d I acquired the coping skills to enable me, baruch Hashem, to raise a family and become a doting grandmother. But the intense pain seared into my psyche still surfaces, and when it does it burns with unbearable intensity.

When I see abusers and molesters, disguised as leaders and counselors, being coddled – while their victims are scorned and their claims discredited, it’s as if I am that young girl again, used and abused at the whim of a recognized and supposedly respectable mechanech.

Therapists I’ve seen over the years have assured me that I have nothing to feel guilty about. But I argue that I wasn’t a child anymore – at eighteen I should have known better and could have spurned the come-ons. Okay, maybe a savvy, street-smart, self-assured 18-year old would have done just that. But with my lack of sophistication and self-confidence, I was easily conned and blinded by his wit and charm. And he had plenty of both, with intelligence thrown in for good measure.

He also had a lovely family. And his wife must have been the envy of every teenager who had a crush on her husband and who would line up at the door of his office every chance they got, hoping to catch a private audience with their rebbe/teacher/principal.

He wasn’t handsome in a striking way, but he oozed charisma. And in his low-key, unassuming and easygoing manner he actually had me convinced that he cared about me, that his sole concern was my wellbeing and happiness, and that there was nothing inherently wrong with our relationship.

It began when my high school years were behind me. I was no longer under his tutelage when I chanced on getting a ride with him from my small hometown to the big city where I worked. We weren’t alone on our lengthy drive, at least not at first. On the second or third round, we were. Then came the convenient “to rest up a bit” overnight stops. He was sweet, gentle, persuasive and he knew just what to say.

It lasted a few months, during which time I would often commute by bus to meet up with him and spend a leisurely Sunday together. Weirdly, he once invited me to spend a Shabbos in his home where I was warmly welcomed by his family, where he behaved of course and acted as the perfect family man practicing hachnassas orchim.

So what made me so gullible? Trust me, Rachel, no one would have believed it of me. I was the studious, no-nonsense, goody-goody type, a conservative dresser, and not particularly outgoing. In fact, my idea of a good time was to curl up with a book rather than hang out with friends. Besides, as a middle child I had always felt upstaged by my older sister whom I considered to be way smarter and better looking than I, while my youngest sib was adorable and deserved all the attention she got.

Our holocaust-survivor parents were devoted to a fault but were mainly focused on making ends meet, serving wholesome meals on time and dutifully attending PTA meetings. Obviously deeply pained about having lost large segments of their families to the gas chambers, they didn’t seem to have the strength or inclination to demonstrate their love for us in a tangible way. Hugs and kisses were reserved for those rare occasions when they would be reunited with kin following years of separation.

So maybe I needed to be needed, to be loved, to be complimented… and to be hugged. And this man, at least 25 years my senior, knew exactly who would be unable to resist his appeal and withstand the nisayon — the net he so cleverly laid out to ensnare his vulnerable prey.

Rachel

Artifact Found in Time for Shavuot Proves Bethlehem Existed During First Temple

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Ir David Foundation announced that a clay seal was discovered bearing the name of the city of Bethlehem, evidence that the city existed during the period of the First Temple in Jerusalem.  The find fortuitously coincides with the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, during which time Jews from around the world focus on the story of the biblical figure Ruth, set in the city of Bethlehem.

The 1.5cm seal – called a bulla – was discovered during sifting of soil removed from the archeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the City of David, just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.  The sifting is underwritten by the Ir David Foundation, which treated The Jewish Press to a private tour.

The clay bulla was meant to seal a document or object, used as a way of showing that the private item had not been tampered with.

The new bulla bears the words:   בשבעת   Bishv’at    בת לים    Bat Lechem [למל[ך   [Lemel]ekh

Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “it seems that in the seventh year of the reign of a king (either Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah), a shipment was dispatched from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem.”

“The bulla we found belongs to the group of “fiscal” bullae – administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE,” Shukron said.  “The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat”.

According to Shukron, this is the first time the name Bethlehem has appeared in an inscription from the First Temple period, proving that Bethlehem was a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly in earlier periods.”

The first mention of Bethlehem in the Bible occurs in regard to the matriarch Rachel, wife of Jacob, sister of Leah, and mother of Joseph, who died while giving birth to Benjamin “in Ephrat, which is Bethlehem, and was buried there (Genesis 35:19; 48:7).

In later generations, when the region was settled by the descendants of Jacob and Leah’s son Judah, a man named Boaz made Ruth, a Moabite convert and daughter-in-law of Naomi, his wife (Book of Ruth).  The couple’s great-grandson, David, became the most celebrated king in Jewish history, and made his capital in Jerusalem, on the site of the modern day “Ir David” – City of David.

Malkah Fleisher

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.

Evelyn Haies

Marriage

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

What’s more important – love or money? Let’s hear what a 90-year-old woman sitting in front of two elevators in a nursing home had to say. I asked her, “If both elevator doors opened at the same time, and out of one came the richest man in the world, and out of the other came the nicest man in the world, who would you want to marry?”

She thought about it for a good while and then answered, “Both of them.”

Yes, in marriage love is important, but so is the ability to buy life’s necessities and even some nice things. However, I don’t think that two people who love each other and are committed to a religious life together should put aside the chuppah because they’re not wealthy enough to buy all those things that other newlyweds seem to be getting.

Also, I don’t think a person should choose their marriage partner based on how much money he or she brings to the table.

The Torah offers interesting lessons on what qualities one should look for in a potential spouse.

Yaakov fled from his brother Esav who had murder on his mind. He headed to his mother’s family in Charan to look for a wife. According to a Midrash, Esav’s son intercepted Yaakov along the way, and although he didn’t have the heart to kill him as his father had sent him to do, he did take his material possessions.

What kind of marriageable man would Yaakov be now? And how did he feel, as he most probably knew that when his grandfather, Avraham, had sent his servant Eliezer to the very same place to look for a wife for Yitzchak he had sent him with very impressive gifts laden on ten camels?

Imagine this scene. Yaakov comes to the well at Charan, penniless. A lesser person might have put off the pursuit of a wife, reasoning that he had nothing to offer a prospective mate. But Yaakov did have something of GREAT VALUE TO OFFER – far greater than any material gift – and that was his exemplary middos, his good character traits.

Yaakov sees Rachel at the well where she has come to get water. She would have to wait there until enough men came to move the stone off of the top of the well. But Yaakov didn’t want her to have to spend any more time there than she had to. He himself moved the stone and watered her flock, no doubt making a deep impression on Rachel.

When it came time to marry her, he was willing to work for seven years. Yaakov’s gifts to Rachel were not material in nature, but rather came from a higher place – his entire being.

Another example. When Ruth, a Moavite accompanied her mother-in-law Naomi back to her homeland, it was a great kindness. She was under no obligation to do so. No one would have expected her to. Eventually, she bears a child with Boaz, and many generations later would come David, and we believe that Moshiach will ultimately descend from this union. What was there about this Moavite woman that attracted Boaz to him and would cause such great lineage to come from them? HER KINDNESS.

When making a decision to get married, it’s important to have emunah. You cannot predict the future; you can’t know that all will be well. You need to have faith. I know of a man who was engaged to a woman whom he was deeply committed to. Both of them had jobs, but the man wished he was making more money and as he got closer to the wedding and began to think of all the upcoming expenses he began to wonder if he was financially stable enough to get married. He called a friend who was a rabbi and expressed his concerns. The rabbi responded, “You have to be like Nachshon ben Aminadav who walked forward into the Red Sea before it had split, until the water was up to his neck and then the water parted.”

The rabbi’s overriding message was that before everything is in place, have the courage to go forward with what’s important to you and know that things have a way of working out. The man was heartened by these words and better opportunities for employment have come their way since they were married.

I remember hearing the following story from my parents, may they rest in peace, when they were recounting my father’s proposal to my mother. I asked my mother what she answered. “I asked him,” she said smiling, “if he had the two dollars for the marriage license.” It was said partially facetiously, but there was some truth to it. Money was hard to come by for them at the time. But they saw in each other a life-long commitment and they were married for 50 years until my father’s passing. And they never wanted for anything.

Alan Magill

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/marriage/2012/03/15/

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