Photo Credit: Jewish Press

This past week was the yahrzeit of our beloved Rachel Imeinu.

Our matriarch Rachel’s day of passing is the 11th of Cheshvan, which has been established as Jewish Mother’s Day.

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Rachel is the spiritual matriarch of the Jewish people who are scattered throughout the world. Rachel is the example of the cry for the spiritual and physical return of all Jews. Rachel is she who refuses to be comforted until the ingathering of her children is realized (see Jeremiah 31:14).

For the Jewish people, our matriarch Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife, exemplifies the innate power of the soul and its conscious devotion to arouse God’s mercy to redeem His children from exile and bring them to the promised land. This she does, with tears and heartfelt prayer.

In the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

So says God: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel weeps for her children, she refuses to be comforted, for her children who are not.” So says God: “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is reward for your effort, says God; and they shall return from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for your future, says God, and the children shall return to their border.”

We recite this prophecy as the haftarah of the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah, the “day of remembrance,” is the day that Rachel, after having been barren for many years, was remembered by God to bear a son. Thirty years afterwards, on the very day of Rosh Hashanah, her son, Joseph, was released from prison and appointed ruler of Egypt, second in command.

The word “tear,” 119 in gematriya, in turn equals the word for “little” or “small.” God promises the Jewish people that He will banish our enemies from our land, that we may inherit and settle it, “little by little.” Though the Torah precisely states that this means “not in one year…,” the process can surely be sped up, dependent upon our merit.

Furthermore, the phrase “little by little” itself refers to the spiritual service which aids to hasten our redemption and the inheriting of our land. To the extent that the Jewish soul (as a people, the children of Rachel) recognizes its existential “smallness,” its selflessness in facing God and receiving His blessing, so will God speedily answer our prayers and reunite us with our homeland, to fulfill our destiny and His purpose in creation. And so do we find that God loves us and chooses us for “you are the smallest [me’at] of all the nations,” which the Sages interpret as: “you consider yourselves small.”

Each tear of our mother Rachel nurtures in our, her children’s, consciousness the sense of “smallness.” She “nurses” us with her tears.

Not only does she nurture our consciousness with her tears, but she washes us – cleansing us from all our spiritual blemishes – with her tears:

It is also stated that since the destruction of the temple the holy Shechinah (God’s spiritual presence) never leaves the Western Wall and the gravesite of Rachel.

At the gravesite of our mother, Rachel, there are always women, girls and children crying.

One might think to themselves that a place that always has people crying can be very depressing, and not a place to go to voluntarily, and surely not frequently.

Well, this is not the case by our dear mother Rachel. When visiting her gravesite you feel alive as if Rachel is actually standing right next to you and giving you a great big hug.

One always has this wonderful feeling that Rachel is hugging you and was waiting until you arrived, and now her day is cheery and full of sunlight, and yours is seven times more cheerful This is the same feeling we would get if we were pouring our hearts out to our own mothers. And we would feel relieved and hugged and encouraged afterwards to go on with our day. This is the feeling after visiting Rachel Imeinu.

May we all believe that the tears of our beloved mother Rachel and her constant prayers for us all to continue in the path of the fathers and mothers of our nation will bring about the speedy redemption to us all.

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Michal can be reached at michal@jewishpress.com