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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Because I Love You

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.

Posted on 12/30 at 05:21 PM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at