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CheshvanJewish Mother's Daymain posts

The Love of Rachel

On 11 Cheshvan we commemorate the day of the passing of our matriarch, Rachel. This day invites us to connect to her persona, learn about her and walk in her path. We can say that this day is Jewish Mother’s Day, dedicated to the Jewish mother. It is also the 41st day of the year, which is the numerical value of  eim (mother).

 

Everyone’s Mother

Rachel is everyone’s mother. We are all her children. (She is also considered the “mother” of the descendants of Leah). Rachel carries a deep message of the unity of Israel. All the Jews – despite our differences and the uniqueness of each and every one of us – are enveloped in her encompassing light. We all crowd beneath her apron, as one big happy family. In the teachings of Kabbalah, Rachel is associated with the concept called Knesset Yisrael (the Congregation of Israel) – which is the root and source of all the souls of Israel.

Rachel is particularly connected to the Land of Israel. She is buried on the road, on the path that her descendants took when they were exiled from the Land. From her vantage point, she cries for her lost children: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel is crying for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children for they are not.”[1] Rachel’s inner strength, like a huge magnet, keeps us connected to the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel. Rachel perseveres and in her merit, we return home. “So says God, Refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work shall be rewarded…and they shall return from the land of the enemy…and the children shall return to their border.”[2]

Jewish Nature

Jacob fell in love with Rachel, literally love at first sight, a love so great that it sweetened all the difficulties along the way. The connection between Jacob and Rachel was not in the realm of the concealed or obscured. It was openly expressed, a natural, flowing connection, a life of love.

The Patriarchs and Matriarchs are the roots of Jewish souls and their connection to God. Rachel represents Jewish Nature. One may perceive the world of Judaism, the Torah, and the commandments, prayer, and service of God as something coerced and contrived – a conscious, artificial effort to conduct oneself in the prescribed manner. The truth, however, is that Jews have an inner nature that – when it is uncovered – makes the connection with God the most natural and simple of relationships, flowing and implicit. We pray and perform the mitzvot, learn Torah and do good deeds with a natural flow and natural consciousness. It is like breathing air, the force of life itself, with joy and ease. This is our Jewish Nature.

Jewish Nature can only be fully revealed in the Land of Israel. Jacob’s love for Rachel reflects his love of the Land of Israel, the natural connection of every Jew to the Holy Land. Rachel was beautiful and the Land of Israel is beautiful, as well. The numerical value of Rachel is 238, while the numerical value of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) is 832, the same numerals in reverse. When Jacob looks at Rachel, he sees the Land of Israel – the scenes of his childhood –  reflecting back to him. When Rachel looks at her own reflection, she also sees the beloved Land of Israel.

Mother Rachel is still waiting for her children, and the Land of Israel is still waiting for her children – for the return of the entire Nation to the entire Land. The true connection between them will be complete with the complete redemption, when our Jewish Nature will be revealed from the depths and our lives will be filled with love for God, like the love of Jacob and Rachel.

[1] Jeremiah 31:14.

[2] Jeremiah 31:15.

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