By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
All Bad People Get Ruined. This is a mnemonic that covers all the empires that afflicted the nation of Israel and also ruled the world. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. The first letters of the words match the mnemonic – All Bad People Get Ruined.
Controlling the individual nation states in an empire is difficult work. The Persians tried to use niceness, the Greeks and Romans tried using fear, but the Assyrians and Babylonians had their own tactic. They would cruelly move entire peoples from their homeland in order to maintain their control over conquered nation-states.
Yaakov Avinu, with his Ruach HaKodesh, knew all of this, of course. He also knew that the future of the people of Israel was in grave danger. The Assyrians caused the Kingdom of Israel to disappear and the Babylonians would also cause the rest of the Jews, Yehudah, to disappear as well. And Yaakov Avinu also knew that no one, not the Avos, the Imahos, nor even the future Moshe Rabbeinu would be able to change that. All except one.
Yaakov knew that Hashem Yisboruch would not be able to resist the cries of a mother. A young mother, who died in childbirth at the age of 26, and was a remarkable tzadaikes.
Yaakov AVinu did not bury Rachel in the ancestral plot his grandfather Avrohom Avinu had purchased. He did not bury her at Maaras HaMachpeilah in Chevron. She would not be buried with the other Avos and Imahos. Her destiny lay elsewhere.
Yaakov Avinu buried her on the side of the road – on the path toward Yerushalayim, on the path in Beis Lechem.
Why? Why?! Why?!?
She was the love of Yaakov Avinu’s life. Why didn’t he bury her next to him? Why did he not bury her with the Imahos and the Avos?
The answer is one we all know, of course. Because when we get up to the B in the above mnemonic, the Babylonians, the same thing was going to happen. The Jewish people being exiled to Babylonia, passing that road in Beis Lechem would be relegated to oblivion.
This was Yaakov Avinu’s chance to change the course of history. He placed Rachel Imeinu there. And as her children would pass by, as the evil tormentors that were the Babylonians would lead the captive Jewish exiles toward Bavel and the oblivion of the Jewish people, she his beloved and righteous wife could seek mercy – Rachel mevaka al Baneha.. Rachel seeks mercy on her children. And so we read in Rashi in Parsha Vayechi, that in Sefer Yirmiyahu that when the evil Nevuzaradan exiled us – Rochel’s children, from Eretz Yisroel, we passed by her grave.
Rachel Imeinu emerged from her grave and kneeled before the Kisay haKavod and wept to ask for mercy on their behalf. Thus did Hashem say, “Kol b’rama nishma, a voice is heard on high, Rachel mevaka al Baneha – Rachel weeps for her children, she refuses to be consoled for her children, for they are not.” And Hashem answers, “Thus did Hashem say, Mini kolaich mibechi – refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is reward for your labor, said Hashem, and the children shall return to their boundary..”
Yes, because of the tears of Rachel Imeinu – we would come back. We would enter into the cauldron of galus that Bavel was and return. This happened only in the zchus of Rachel Imeinu. It would be different than the Assyrians – because of her heartfelt Tefillah to Hashem – we would come back from Bavel!
How? What was the source of her Tefilah?
Elsewhere, the Midrash explains how Rachel could move Hashem Yisbarach to change history. Rachel entered and said before Him: “Master of the universe! Whose mercy is greater? Yours or the mercy of flesh and blood? Surely, it is Your Mercy that is greater. But I had mercy too, Hashem. I could have let Leah become embarrassed and have taken my rightful husband. But when I entered the chupah, I saw her and I kept silent. I knew that I would lose my husband but I could not do that to Leah. I gave her my signs that I had so carefully worked out with my husband.
You too – Hashem! Have mercy on Your children!”
Rashi in Sefer Yirmiyahu tells us that Hashem answered, “You have defended Bnei Yisroel well, there is reward for your labor, for your righteousness in having given your signs to your sister.”
So what two lessons can we learn from Rachel? Give your all for the sake of Klal Yisroel! Daven fervently for them, always. That’s what she did. But also, let us be inspired by Mama Rachel’s remarkable tzidkus. Let us immerse ourselves in Avodas Hashem and do Chessed like no one else. Let us strive and reach for that lofty level of chessed that Rachel Imeinu achieved – that she had implanted within the genetic fiber of her descendents.
And Boruch Hashem, our women, our young women as well are doing it. Look at the remarkable chessed programs that our girls are doing. It is inspiring.
There is something unique and irresistible to Hashem about the Tefilos of nashim Tzidkaniyos, the righteous women of Klal Yisroel. Yaakov Avinu could not have done it, nor the other Avos, nor Moshe Rabbeinu. This applied then in the time of Galus Bavel and now as well in the longest of exiles, the Galus of Edom – Rome – which includes both Aisav and Yishmael. Let us then take inspiration from the acts of Rochel Imeinu on this day of her Yartzeit and increase our Kavana in our Daveming and also our acts of genuine complete and selfless chessed.
In her zchus and in the zchus of our increased Avodas Hashem, may Hashem bring an end to this galus bvias Moshiach tzidkeinu bimheira b’yameinu, Amain!