This week, Israel is gearing up for the yahrzeit of the matriarch Rachel, which will take place on Tuesday. Jews from all over Israel and beyond will come to Kever Rachel (Rachel’s Tomb) on the outskirts of Jerusalem, right near Bethlehem, to pray. Women specifically will make the trip in order to pray for a shidduch (match), a child or whatever their hearts desire.
Flyers, brochures and supplements in newspapers have been circulating all over Israel promoting Mosdos Kever Rachel, the organization that takes care of Rachel’s Tomb. The cover of one of the brochures says “This year *everyone* is getting close to mother.”
There is only one problem — the cover page of this brochure only has pictures of men.
If everyone is getting closer to Rachel, our foremother, then why are there only men in the pictures? Inside of that same brochure, any pictures that contain women, including a bride, have the women’s faces blurred out.
How can this be?
Rachel was the woman who patiently stood by while Jacob was tricked into marrying her sister Leah first. Rachel was the woman who saw that she could not rely on Jacob’s prayers, so she took the initiative and prayed for a child. Rachel was the woman who died while giving birth to Benjamin, the youngest of the tribes.
Rachel represents all of the women who need God’s assistance, women who open up their hearts to God hoping to have their prayers answered. How can their faces be left out and replaced by faces of men?
Tradition tells us that the reason that Jacob was tricked with the wrong bride was that he was unable to see her face. In order to make sure that this does not happen again, at the wedding, we do a bedeken, where the groom makes sure that he has the right bride by looking at her face and only then lowers the veil. The bedeken ensures that Rachel will be the last sacrifice of a woman whose face could not be seen leading to detrimental circumstances. The last place that women’s faces should be missing is on a brochure which speaks about the importance of Kever Rachel.
Another element that is absent from these brochures is a picture of what Kever Rachel looks like today. The brochures show pastoral pictures of what the Tomb looked like before a fortress was built around it to keep it secure. Today, Israeli soldiers, both men and women stand guard at the entrance to the fortress as well as inside to make sure that all of the visitors are safe as the building is very close to Bethlehem and has been firebombed many times. Last year on Rachel Imenu’s yahrzeit, there were so many visitors that part of the building nearly collapsed. It is crucial that we show our support and appreciation for the soldiers who put their lives on the line so that we can pray safely at Rachel’s Tomb.
This week, I will personally be delivering gift baskets to the soldiers protecting Kever Rachel. I will proudly have my picture taken with these young heroes. Please be in touch if you would like me to deliver a basket on your behalf.