Rachel’s Tomb was about to be handed over to PA as part of Oslo Accords. At last moment, PM changed mind and left her in Jewish hands.
1. “Mother’s Day” – the eleventh of Cheshvan, the anniversary of Rachel’s passing – is the forty-first day from the Jewish New Year, with the word for “mother” in Hebrew carrying the gematria value of 41 – the thirty days of Tishrei and another 11 days of Cheshvan.
2. She was 36 years old when she died. Rachel lived the fewest years of all the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, yet she left a great impression on the People of Israel.
3. Rachel and Leah were twins, perhaps even identical. Perhaps this was what enabled Lavan to switch them on the wedding night without Yaakov becoming aware of the trick until morning.
4. Rachel was her father’s shepherdess. When Yaakov undertook to work seven years to win her, he actually replaced her in this demanding role. Perhaps it was because of this that time passed “like a few days because of his love for her”. He reminded himself all the time that any difficulty – heat wave or frost, wolves or bandits, that he had to deal with – was spared his beloved and this gave him strength.
5. She gave up everything. When Rachel gave Leah the secret signs enabling her to marry Yaakov, she didn’t only give up the exclusivity of the relationship with him by allowing another woman to enter the house. She gave up on the prospect of marrying him entirely! She had no way of anticipating that Yaakov would insist on working another seven years to marry her too. Is it possible to imagine a girl on her wedding night willing to give up on her beloved one for someone else?!
6. Six hundred years later, Yehonatan son of Shaul (from the tribe of Binyamin, the son of Rachel!) follows in her footsteps, does the unbelievable, and gives up the royal crown in favor of David (from the tribe of Yehuda son of Leah!). Is it possible that this was hinted at by David in his lamentation of him, “Your love has been more wonderful to me than the love of women” – than that wonderful love of Rachel for her sister?
7. Stealing her father’s idols: Despite Lavan’s cruel wedding night exercise, despite all the years he tried to persecute her and her husband – when Rachel separated from her father she worried about him and tried to rescue him from his idolatrous morass and takes his fetishes. In the end she pays for it with her life when Yaakov, who didn’t know of the story, utters the curse: “Whoever your god is found with, he will not live.”
8. “Give me sons“: At the time of the birth of her first son, at the very moment other women writhing from the agony of childbirth swear never to give birth to another, Rachel gives her son the name Yoseph and begs – “Yoseph – may the L-rd add for me another son.” G-d, give me another one. Please, just another child …
9. Rachel’s Tomb was intended to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords. At the last moment, the Prime Minister changed his mind and left her in Jewish hands. It may have been the words of Knesset Member Menachem Porush, who burst into Rabin’s office and cried out in tears: “Mama Rachel; how can you do this to her? The people of Israel will never forgive you if you abandon your mother…” that touched his heart and caused him to change the decision.
10. Only someone who was willing to give up everything for the sake of others and pay any price to win a child can stand up to the Master of the Universe and claim: “Even if they don’t deserve it, and even though they sinned, they’re Your children. Please bring them back home …”.
And the Blessed Holy One answers: “Stay your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears…The children will return to their borders…”
Translated by Mordechai Sones