As we continued our day-long trip visiting holy sites in Israel on the yarzheit of Rachel Imeinu, (more about that on my previous post here) we at long last reached the Tomb of Rachel, Kever Rachel, located on the road between the Holy Cities of Hebron and Jerusalem, just next to Bethlehem, Beit Lechem, about 4 miles southwest of Jerusalem. And no surprise, we were not alone in our desire to visit Mama Rachel on the anniversery of her passing, an estimated 70,000 people came to pray at her tomb on this day, wow!
We joined the tightly packed crowd on the women's side that was slowly moving towards the tomb, and while I was a bit worried about my little daughter stuffed in between all the women, she was a trouper and enjoyed every minute. Every single woman there was praying, very likely with tears flowing freely, that in the merit of Rachel, their prayers should be answered. Prayers for themselves and their families, and the Jewish people, and the world in general.........an amazing thing really, so many prayers packed into such a small space! And while there are other Jewish matriarchs as you know, there is something about Rachel, and her self sacrifice that allows us to feel closer to her, and that is why 70,000 people came to visit!
Ahh, at last we are almost at the tomb, though there won't be much time once we reach it, the security gaurds are shouting "this is not the place to pray, give a kiss and move on, pray outside!" a little ironic and certainly not in the spirit of the day, but they were just trying to do their job managing the huge crowd who all wanted a private moment with Rachel! I smiled at the female security guard next to me figuring she could use a smile and she said "ah, a smile, thank you!" And at least she didn't physically yank me off the tomb as she did to other women next to me! Only in Israel dear readers!
After that very emotional experience inside we are outside once again, back in the real world where very tall security fences have been built to keep out the terrorists, a truly sad situation, and yet ironic. These fences are a true sign of the Jewish people being in exile, and too, Rachel was buried here so that as the Jewish people passed her gravesite on their way into exile in Egypt, they would be able to pray for their own redemption. Big sigh. Moving on.......
Our last stop, the wailing wall, The Kotel, in Jerusalem. Truly amazing at night were the silence is sweet and when one touches the ancient stones there is a feeling that everything will be okay. Truly. The challenge is to take that feeling home with you!
Just imagine what this wall has seen and heard!
And that's it for our little one day trip with four bus loads of women, a very very special experience that my daughter (and I) will never forget. And there's another trip coming up soon, a trip to visit the gravesite of great Moroccan Rabbi and Kabbalist, The Baba Sali, (Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira) in Netivot, near Beersheba. A very long trip, from our home in the North, but I don't know if we'll be able to resist! One gets hooked on the high of visiting these special places! I'll keep you posted!