Sivan Rahav-Meir / The Daily Portion / Why Is She Called "Our Mother Rachel?"

By Sivan Rahav-Meir/Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Posted on 10/17/21

Today, the 11th of Cheshvan is the day that our mother Rachel passed away. The following is what Naomi Levenstein wrote about her - and about us:

"There is something in the personality of our mother Rachel, in the story of her life, that says to us, to every one of her children:  You can tell me everything. You can tell me about every pain, every difficulty, every sorrow, every agony. I understand, I know exactly what you mean.

It seems that our mother Rachel experienced every form of suffering in her life: She was born to Lavan the con artist, and waited years for her wedding. Her sister Leah married Yaakov in her place despite her expecting to marry him first. And after she married him, she had to go wandering with the family.  She did not have children for many years, even as more and more babies were being born around her. And finally, finally she had a son and then another son, Benjamin, but died while giving birth to him. She did not even have a respectable burial, but was interred by the side of the road where her tomb would serve as a symbol of hope for her children.

But I left out one important detail from this sad biography: Rachel's response to whatever happened to her. Because there are two ways to experience suffering: either to sink into bitterness or to rise up to the greatest heights. Rachel was never broken; she built herself up. Rachel was transformed, within her anguish, into our mother Rachel. She exercised restraint and did not scorn her sister Leah, she waited expectantly for a child, she fought against the idolatry of her father.

And so until today, her children do not turn to her only in order to pour out their hearts, but also in order to gather strength. Rachel teaches not only what suffering can take from us, but what it can give."

In her memory.