What is true, eternal love? In this week’s Torah Portion, Vayishlach, we read the story of Rachel, our foremother, who dies at the young age of 36. This is one of the most moving accounts and one that continues to nurture us till this very day. After Rachel passes away during childbirth, she is buried on the side of the road – and not in the Machpelah Cave in Chevron where the other “founding” four couples were laid to rest.
The question is asked, why? And the answer is what lies at the heart of every mother: As long as her children are wandering and oppressed, Rachel cannot find any final rest and remains with them “on the road”. Rachel weeps for her children and refuses to be comforted. She “walks” alongside them, suffering with them and shedding tears for their pain. Rachel’s sad death in childbirth, giving her life for her newborn child, personifies her historical role as the quintessential mother who would sacrifice herself for her children, throughout the ages, until the end of time.
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