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Shabbat Nugget: Rachel

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the death of Rachel, the wife of Jacob. The Torah tells us that Rachel died and was buried in Bethlehem.

Later on in the Torah when Jacob is about to die, he asks Joseph to bury him in Israel at the site of the resting place of his parents and grandparents at the Machpelah grave in Hebron.  Jacob tells Joseph that you might harbor resentment for not burying your mother at the Machpela grave in Hebron but you should know that it was upon G-d’s instruction that I buried her in Bethlehem so that she could help the Jewish people when they were being led into captivity to Babylon at the time of the destruction of the First Temple.

When the Jews were passing Rachel’s grave, tormented, exhausted and hungry Rachel’s soul came to her grave and wept pleading for G-d to have mercy on his children.  The prophet Jeremiah tells us that G-d heard her prayers and Promised her that “Your children will return to their borders”.

Why was it specifically Rachel that was able to bring the salvation for the Jews?

The Midrash tells us that Rachel said to G-d, “Why have you exiled the Jews?  Since they served other G-d’s!  When I was supposed to get married to Jacob and my father tricked Jacob and gave him my sister Leah instead, there was a secret code that Jacob had given to me to make sure that he was marrying me and not someone else. Jacob suspected my father of being a trickster and substituting someone else.

I gave that code to my sister Leah so that Jacob should not stop the wedding proceedings which would cause great shame to my sister Leah.  Therefore, I ask you G-d that just like I was not jealous of my sister Leah for taking away my husband, you should not be jealous of your children Israel serving other Gods.

About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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