Welcome Home! - My Visit to Rachel's Tomb
I'm embarrassed to admit this, but it took me almost 3 years since having made Aliyah, until I finally got around to visiting my mother who resides in Israel - in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem) to be precise, and who has been waiting patiently for my visit since the day I arrived.
I am, of course, talking about my mother, Rachel. Yesterday, I was privileged to finally visit Kever Rachel (Rachel's Tomb), courtesy of KUMAH, Arutz-7 and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund.
(To read all about this powerful trip, click here, and to see pictures of the trip, click here).
It is written in Jeremiah (31:14):
"Thus said Hashem: A voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping, Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be consoled for her children, for they are gone. Thus said Hashem: Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for there is reward for your accomplishment - the word of Hashem - and they will return from the enemy's land. There is hope for your future - the word of Hashem - and your children will return to their border."
Rachel Imeinu is the one who has been weeping throughout the generations for the Children of Israel to return home to the Land of Israel, and she is the one who continues to pray for the rest of the Jewish People to return home.
It is sad, that in many ways, Kever Rachel has been abandoned by the State of Israel. In order to reach the area, one must travel in a armored bus, and one feels as if he is entering a fortress, surrounded on nearly every side by huge concrete walls (see pictures), to be protected from the Arabs who live in Beit Lechem, and if not for the presence of the army, would destroy Kever Rachel just as they did to Kever Yosef in Schem.
Yet, in spite of the difficulties involved in reaching our mother, Rachel, the Jewish People have not abandoned her. Over 20,000 Jews visited their mother yesterday, the day of her passing - the 11th of Cheshvan - and the Jerusalem Capitol Development Fund has been working to strengthen the Jewish presence around Kever Rachel (may Hashem bless their efforts).
After I was able to push my way through to get up to the Kever, I prayed for all my Jewish brothers and sisters who still live outside of Israel, that they should be able to return home soon, that I should be able to play a part in making that happen, and that Rachel Imeinu should no lonee have reason to cry...