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ב"ה

WHAT IS THE POWER OF A MOTHER?

Friday, 21 December, 2018 - 12:29 pm

I was sound asleep when the telephone jarred me awake.

"Hi!" It was my peppy mother-in-law. She proceeded to rattle on about the busy day she had ahead and all the things that awaited her the rest of the week.

"Mom," I interrupted. "It’s five in the morning."

"Really? What are you doing up so early?"

The Torah-reading of this weeks portion Vayechi recounts the culminating events of Jacob’s earthly life: his parting instructions and blessings to his children, his passing, funeral, and burial.

At his deathbed, Jacob suddenly begins telling Joseph about his mother Rachel’s death 50 years earlier. Why now?

Says Rashi: I am asking you to trouble yourself to take me to be buried in the [Holy] Land… even though I did not do the same for your mother. She died near Bethlehem. I know that there is resentment in your heart toward me over this. But know that it was by divine command that I buried her there so that she should be a help for her children when Nevuzaradan will exile them and they will pass by there. Then Rachel will come out upon her grave and weep and plead for mercy for them.

It is a moving idea. As the Jews would be expelled from Jerusalem and enter into exile, they would pass by the Tomb of Rachel. Rachel would cry and pray for them, and G-d would promise her that her children will return back to their homeland. That, explains Jacob, is why he buried Rachel on the road, and he did not bring her body to Hebron.

Why did Jacob not have this conversation with Joseph over all the years till now? Rachel died 50 years earlier!

And the answer, he assumed, must be that Joseph trusted his father. He loved his father, and he also knew how much his father loved Rachel. Jacob would do anything for Rachel. He thus understood that his father must have had a good reason to bury here in Bethlehem and not take her to Hebron.

But then the question is, what happened now? Why did Jacob feel the need now to explain his behavior to Joseph?

Note the words of Rashi: “I know that there is resentment in your heart toward me over this.” Rashi focuses on the heart, not on the mind. Jacob knew that Joseph understands intellectually that Jacob knew what he doing by burring Rachel in Bethlehem. But Jacob also knew that when he is asking Joseph to take his body to Hebron, Joseph’s heart will erupt with pain over the fact that his mother did not merit to be buried in the sacred burial plot of all of the founding fathers and mothers of the Jewish people. Intellectually, he may understand that Jacob must have a good reason; but emotionally he will feel profound pain and hurt. Emotions, we know, don’t follow the dictates of the rational mind. I may understand something to be true, but I still feel pain and hurt. Jacob wanted to remove that emotional pain from Joseph.

Jacob was explaining to Joseph the special quality of his mother Rachel, the quintessential mother of the Jewish people, embodying the timeless quality of the Jewish mother for generations: She puts everything aside, even the deepest spiritual bliss, in order to comfort her children.

She wanted to be the last thing they would see as they enter into exile, to experience that last embrace of a mother before the long difficult journey into exile; an embrace that would empower them and ensure them that they ought to never give up because they will return one day. That is a mother!

Indeed, this is what happened.

Rachel’s Tomb lies on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem, about 460 meters south of the Jerusalem’s border. Throughout all the generations Jews went to visit mother Rachel, they cried, prayed, sang, and meditated at her gravesite, and felt their tears mixing with hers. They felt an embrace of their mother, and they experienced her quiet and confident reassurance that in the end, everything would be alright.

Then came the infamous Oslo accords.

In 1995, it became known that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had agreed to give the Arabs full security and civilian control over Rachel’s Tomb. It was during that time that Prime Minister Rabin created the Palestinian Authority, with its own police force, and gave them full autonomy over the West Bank, Gaza, and much of East Jerusalem. It was a tragic error. Suicide bombers were sent each day to murder as many Jews as possible. Until Israel was forced to re-enter much of these territories.

During that time, Rabin decided to give over also the Toms of Rachel to the PA, since Bethlehem is basically an Arab enclave.

The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Israel Meir Lau, met with Prime Minister Rabin and said these words: “One does not part from one’s mother.”

You don’t give up your mother!

Even Rabin, a staunch secular Jew who at the time surrendered most of the West Bank to Arab control, could not remain passive to Rabbi Lau’s words. Then, in a scene fraught with emotion, Menachem Porush, an old-aged Knesset member, broke down in tears, weeping on the prime minister’s shoulder in his office. He would not leave Rabin in peace until he changed the decision. Finally, Rabin and Shimon Peres, at that time foreign minister, reached a new agreement with Yasser Arafat: Rachel’s Tomb and the road leading to it would remain under Israeli control. However, due to the endless gunfire sprayed by terrorists at the Jews praying there, the little-domed structure has been encased in a sleeve of reinforced concrete with firing holes and defensive trenches and covered with camouflage netting.

This is why Rache’s tears are the ones that bring redemption, more than anyone else. As Jeremiah says: So says the Lord: A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children for they are not. So says the Lord: Refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for your future, says the Lord, and the children shall return to their own border.

In fact, the Midrash says, that all the prayers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah do not have the same effect like Rachel. Why Rachel, more than anyone else?

Because while all of them remained for millennia in Hebron, basking in the Divine sanctity there, Rachel was ready and happy to abandon them all just to be there for her children. And what type of children? Those who were not deserving of remaining in Jerusalem with the Holy Temple. Children who sinned and betrayed the Covenant, for hundreds of years, despite all of the warnings of all of the prophets, and despite open miracles. No matter what type of child, she will be there for them. Rachel will never ever let go of her children. The connection and the love are unconditional.

This is true of Rachel—and so true of countless Jewish mothers.

At 3 in the morning, in absolute exhaustion and fatigue, healthy or sick, relaxed or drained, serene or anxious, the mother gives up all, to be there for her child. It begins with 9 months of pregnancy and continues for years and years, in ways some of us men know, and ways that we men do not even always realize. In times when no one sees and no one notices, she thinks of them, supports them, and is there for them. She gives up everything, just to ensure that her children are taken care of.

Am Yisrael will one day return joyfully and reclaim their land. But if G-d tells you to stop crying, that means your tears have so much power. Do not stop crying till redemption comes!

Shabbat Shalom and Chazak Chazak Venitchazek!!!I was sound asleep when the telephone jarred me awake.

"Hi!" It was my peppy mother-in-law. She proceeded to rattle on about the busy day she had ahead and all the things that awaited her the rest of the week.

"Mom," I interrupted. "It’s five in the morning."

"Really? What are you doing up so early?"

The Torah-reading of this weeks portion Vayechi recounts the culminating events of Jacob’s earthly life: his parting instructions and blessings to his children, his passing, funeral, and burial.

At his deathbed, Jacob suddenly begins telling Joseph about his mother Rachel’s death 50 years earlier. Why now?

Says Rashi: I am asking you to trouble yourself to take me to be buried in the [Holy] Land… even though I did not do the same for your mother. She died near Bethlehem. I know that there is resentment in your heart toward me over this. But know that it was by divine command that I buried her there so that she should be a help for her children when Nevuzaradan will exile them and they will pass by there. Then Rachel will come out upon her grave and weep and plead for mercy for them.

It is a moving idea. As the Jews would be expelled from Jerusalem and enter into exile, they would pass by the Tomb of Rachel. Rachel would cry and pray for them, and G-d would promise her that her children will return back to their homeland. That, explains Jacob, is why he buried Rachel on the road, and he did not bring her body to Hebron.

Why did Jacob not have this conversation with Joseph over all the years till now? Rachel died 50 years earlier!

And the answer, he assumed, must be that Joseph trusted his father. He loved his father, and he also knew how much his father loved Rachel. Jacob would do anything for Rachel. He thus understood that his father must have had a good reason to bury here in Bethlehem and not take her to Hebron.

But then the question is, what happened now? Why did Jacob feel the need now to explain his behavior to Joseph?

Note the words of Rashi: “I know that there is resentment in your heart toward me over this.” Rashi focuses on the heart, not on the mind. Jacob knew that Joseph understands intellectually that Jacob knew what he doing by burring Rachel in Bethlehem. But Jacob also knew that when he is asking Joseph to take his body to Hebron, Joseph’s heart will erupt with pain over the fact that his mother did not merit to be buried in the sacred burial plot of all of the founding fathers and mothers of the Jewish people. Intellectually, he may understand that Jacob must have a good reason; but emotionally he will feel profound pain and hurt. Emotions, we know, don’t follow the dictates of the rational mind. I may understand something to be true, but I still feel pain and hurt. Jacob wanted to remove that emotional pain from Joseph.

Jacob was explaining to Joseph the special quality of his mother Rachel, the quintessential mother of the Jewish people, embodying the timeless quality of the Jewish mother for generations: She puts everything aside, even the deepest spiritual bliss, in order to comfort her children.

She wanted to be the last thing they would see as they enter into exile, to experience that last embrace of a mother before the long difficult journey into exile; an embrace that would empower them and ensure them that they ought to never give up because they will return one day. That is a mother!

Indeed, this is what happened.

Rachel’s Tomb lies on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem, about 460 meters south of the Jerusalem’s border. Throughout all the generations Jews went to visit mother Rachel, they cried, prayed, sang, and meditated at her gravesite, and felt their tears mixing with hers. They felt an embrace of their mother, and they experienced her quiet and confident reassurance that in the end, everything would be alright.

Then came the infamous Oslo accords.

In 1995, it became known that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had agreed to give the Arabs full security and civilian control over Rachel’s Tomb. It was during that time that Prime Minister Rabin created the Palestinian Authority, with its own police force, and gave them full autonomy over the West Bank, Gaza, and much of East Jerusalem. It was a tragic error. Suicide bombers were sent each day to murder as many Jews as possible. Until Israel was forced to re-enter much of these territories.

During that time, Rabin decided to give over also the Toms of Rachel to the PA, since Bethlehem is basically an Arab enclave.

The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Israel Meir Lau, met with Prime Minister Rabin and said these words: “One does not part from one’s mother.”

You don’t give up your mother!

Even Rabin, a staunch secular Jew who at the time surrendered most of the West Bank to Arab control, could not remain passive to Rabbi Lau’s words. Then, in a scene fraught with emotion, Menachem Porush, an old-aged Knesset member, broke down in tears, weeping on the prime minister’s shoulder in his office. He would not leave Rabin in peace until he changed the decision. Finally, Rabin and Shimon Peres, at that time foreign minister, reached a new agreement with Yasser Arafat: Rachel’s Tomb and the road leading to it would remain under Israeli control. However, due to the endless gunfire sprayed by terrorists at the Jews praying there, the little-domed structure has been encased in a sleeve of reinforced concrete with firing holes and defensive trenches and covered with camouflage netting.

This is why Rache’s tears are the ones that bring redemption, more than anyone else. As Jeremiah says: So says the Lord: A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children for they are not. So says the Lord: Refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for your future, says the Lord, and the children shall return to their own border.

In fact, the Midrash says, that all the prayers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah do not have the same effect like Rachel. Why Rachel, more than anyone else?

Because while all of them remained for millennia in Hebron, basking in the Divine sanctity there, Rachel was ready and happy to abandon them all just to be there for her children. And what type of children? Those who were not deserving of remaining in Jerusalem with the Holy Temple. Children who sinned and betrayed the Covenant, for hundreds of years, despite all of the warnings of all of the prophets, and despite open miracles. No matter what type of child, she will be there for them. Rachel will never ever let go of her children. The connection and the love are unconditional.

This is true of Rachel—and so true of countless Jewish mothers.

At 3 in the morning, in absolute exhaustion and fatigue, healthy or sick, relaxed or drained, serene or anxious, the mother gives up all, to be there for her child. It begins with 9 months of pregnancy and continues for years and years, in ways some of us men know, and ways that we men do not even always realize. In times when no one sees and no one notices, she thinks of them, supports them, and is there for them. She gives up everything, just to ensure that her children are taken care of.

Am Yisrael will one day return joyfully and reclaim their land. But if G-d tells you to stop crying, that means your tears have so much power. Do not stop crying till redemption comes!

Shabbat Shalom and Chazak Chazak Venitchazek!!!
Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky

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