A Mother’s Sacrifice – Parashat Vayechi

December 25, 2017 at 1:37 AM , , ,

“…..I buried her there along the road to Efras, which is Bies-Lechem…..” – Bereishit 48:7

״…..ואקברה שם בדרך אפרת היא בית לחם…״ – בראשית מח,ז

Rachel’s burial place would naturally have been in Me’aras Hamachpela, alongside her husband. Instead, Rachel was buried on the roadside in order to hasten her children’s eventual return from exile, as explained in the Midrash.“When they passed her grave as they were led to exile, Rachel emerged from her grave and wept and begged mercy for them, as it is said: ‘A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rachel is weeping for her children,’ and G-d answered her, ‘There is reward for your work… and the children shall return to their own border’ (Yirmiyahu 31:14-16).”

Rachel's burial place
Rachel’s sacrifice to be buried far from the family plot exemplifies her role and nature, and likewise that of every Jewish woman, as the akeres habayis, the mainstay of the home. Though men and women are equally charged to serve G-d with every aspect of their lives, yet the Torah exempts women frommitzvos that are time-sensitive, since a woman is constantly tending to the needs of her family and home. Only men are obligated in mitzvos that are time-sensitive and in the constant mitzvah of Torah study (see Talmud, Kiddushin 29a-b). The woman sacrifices the spiritual development that is experienced and achieved through these mitzvos, choosing instead to serve G-d by nurturing her family and caring for their home.

This explains why it was Rachel who was buried on the roadside, instead of being buried with Yaakov in the obviously holy and special burial grounds of Me’aras Hamachpela. Rachel was the akeres habayis of Yaakov’s household (see Rashi on Beraishis 31:4). Just as she had personified the “mother’s sacrifice” in her lifetime, in her passing too her burial place on the roadside enabled her to implore G-d on her children’s behalf and guarantee their return home.

—Likkutei Sichos vol. 30, pp. 239-240

 

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