IMPORTANT DATES IN
11 Cheshvan - Rachel Imeinu
On the eleventh of Cheshvan, while giving birth
to her 2nd son, Binyamin, Rachel, the beloved wife of Ya'akov, died, and was buried
on the road to Bethlehem.
The site of her burial in Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem, known to us by tradition, is
covered by a stone edifice.
For millennia, Jews have come to this site to pour forth their hearts in prayer, and to
awaken her merit in any time of travail, for the community as well as for the individual.
Our mother Rachel was not buried in the tile cave of Machpelah in Hevron together with the
other Matriarchs and Patriarchs of our people. Instead, she was buried on the road to
Jerusalem, exactly where she died, while coming back to Jerusalem from the House of Lavan
Why did our Father Ya'akov bury Rachel on the road in Bethlehem?
According to Rabbi Eliyahu Ki Tov's Book of Our Heritage, Ya'akov saw prophetically that
in the future, Jewish exiles would pass by on that road and she might seek mercy for them.
When Nebuzaradan exiled the Jews from Israel, and they in fact passed her grave, Rachel
emerged to weep and to ask for mercy in their behalf, (Yirmeyahu 3l): "Thus did the
Lord say, a voice is heard on high, lamentation and hitter weeping, Rachel weeps for her
children, she refuses to be consoled for her children, for they are not." And God in
fact answers: "Thus did the Lord say, refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes
from tears, for there is reward for your labor, said the Lord, and the children shall
return to their boundary" (Rashi Va'yechi, and Midrashim quoted by Radak, Yirmeyahu
Another Midrash relates: When the Patriarchs and Matriarchs went to intercede with God
over the image which Menasheh placed in the Temple, God was not reconciled. Rachel entered
and said before Him: Lord of the universe! Whose mercy is greater? Yours? Or the mercy of
a person of flesh and blood. Surely, Your mercy is greater. Have I not brought my rival
(Leah) into my house? For all the work which Yaakov did for my father, was done by him,
only for my sake. When I came to enter the chupah, my sister was brought in my place. And
not only did I keep silent, but I even gave her my signs. You too -- though Your children
have brought Your enemy into Your House - be silent towards them! He said to her: You have
defended them well, there is reward for your labor, for your righteousness in having given
your signs to your sister (Rashi Yirmeyahu 31).
From the time when the People of Israel went into their first exile until Yirmeyahu's
prophecy of redemption ('and the children shall return to their boundary'), the grave of
our mother Rachel has always been and will always remain a House of Prayer to Israel, for
she is a mother to all Israel, and always awakens mercy in their behalf.