Students of the Reishit Yeshivah (Jewish Seminary for men) in prayer at Rachel’s Tomb [Photo Credit: Reishit]
The Hebrew date which marks the yahrzeit (or anniversary of the death) of Rachel is the 11th day of the month of Cheshvan. Rachel was the wife of the patriarch Jacob, whom he worked tirelessly to marry. The Bible (Genesis 29:18) uses the word ahavah (or love) to describe the feelings that Jacob had for Rachel. This word is seldom used in the bible to describe the connection between man and wife and the commentators make note of this strong word to describe the deep love that Jacob had for Rachel. Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, 2 of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Rachel was buried in Bethlehem and not with her husband Jacob. The Jewish commentators note that the reason why Jacob had decided to bury Rachel in Bethlehem was so that her spirit would pray for her decedents who would one day be captives and be forced to leave the holy land of Israel under impoverished and dreadful circumstances (the aftermath of the destruction of the Temple). Jacob foresaw that the Jewish refugees on their way to captivity in Babylonia would take courage from Rachel’s presence, and that her soul would beseech G-d on their behalf.
In commemorating the passing of Rachel, tens of thousands of worshipers went to Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem on Monday evening, Arutz Sheva reported. Charitable organizations distributed hot food and hot and cold beverages to the worshipers.
Rabbi Tzvi Uziyahu of the Rachel’s Tomb Institutions, who runs a Jewish seminary for students at the site of Rachel’s Tomb throughout the year, said on Monday evening that thousands of worshipers have so far visited the site to pray for the success and salvation of the nation of Israel. “We thank the security forces who have stepped up security around the site,” he said.