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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Because I Love You

By Rabbi Sender Haber

When Yaacov first met Rachel he cried. The Medrash says that he cried because he would not be buried with her.

Before his death, Yaacov apologized to Yosef for not burying Rachel in Me’aras Hamachpeila. He had buried her by the side of the road outside Beis Lechem. He had no excuse, the weather was good and the distance was not too far, but he did not make the trip like he did for Leah and like Yitzchak and Avraham did for their wives.

Why didn’t Yaacov just bury Rachel in Me’aras Hamachpela? Rashi brings a famous Medrash that Yaacov wanted Rachel to be available to greet the exiles as they were leaving for Bavel, but the Seforno gives a much simpler explanation: Yaacov was just too sad. The loss was too much for him to bear. He was not able to make the trip.

When Rabin was Prime Minister of Israel, there was some question about the land surrounding Kever Rachel. At one point it was supposed to fall under full Arab civil and military control. Chanan Porat who was a member of Knesset went to speak with Rabin and try to change his mind. As he was walking to Rabin’s office, Rabbi Menachem Porush who was the head of Agudah at the time asked to join in the meeting.

Many years earlier, right after the Six Day War, when we regained access to Kever Rachel Rabbi Parush had been one of the first to arrive there. He came with R’ Aryeh Levin (“the tzaddik of Jerusalem”) and Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz. He marked the spot with a piece of cardboard that said: ‘Here is the Kever of Rochel’. That was when Reb Chaim Shmeulevitz famously cried “Mama, Hashem told you to stop crying – but I say Keep on Crying for your children”.

Now, several decades later, the two members of Knesset made strong arguments based on politics and security to preserve Jewish presence at Kever Rachel. Rabin was not convinced.

Then Rabin noticed that Menachem Porush was crying. He gave in and we have access to Kever Rachel to this day. 

Sometimes, emotions are an excuse. Yaacov told Yosef that he feels bad asking for a favor that he had not done for Yosef’s mother. He had no excuse other than emotion, but that is ok sometimes.

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