🕯 Rochel Imeinu (1514-1552 BCE) – 11th of Cheshvan

October 28, 2020

Tonight, the 11th of Cheshvan, is the yahrtzeit of Rochel Imeinu. Instead of going into the details of her life and of the Divine embodiment that she intrinsically represents, I wanted to focus on one pertinent point that will help us gain a more practical perspective to the day’s significance. Hopefully, when we’re done here, we’ll understand a little more why her yahrtzeit is commemorated more so than any of our other matriarchs and patriarchs.

As we know, Rochel Imeinu died after giving birth to her second son, Binyamin. Before she passed, Rochel saw before her eyes a vision of her children, the Jewish people, some 1,200 years in the future. At that time, the Jewish people would be living in Eretz Yisroel but alas, she saw that their behavior would compel Hashem to punish them. Hashem would destroy the Beis Hamikdash and banish his people into exile.

Rochel also envisioned the route her children would take. In her mind’s eye, she saw hundreds of thousands of Jews, shackled, hungry, and broken in spirit, being led by the Babylonian general Nevuzaradan back to his homeland, where he’d be able to show off the success of his battles. This sad procession, Rochel saw, would lead the weary Jews directly past the road where she lay now, on her final moments on earth.

Epitomizing the quality found in all women, our quintessential mother focused only on her children. It is for this reason that a grieving Yaakov Avinu heeded her request and buried Rochel there, at the side of the road. Aside from the enormous implications this would have for the future of Klal Yisroel in this world, Rochel’s great sacrifice would also generate cosmic consequences in the next world as well.

Years later, Rochel’s prophecy came to pass. When Nevuzaradan exiled the Jews from Eretz Yisroel, the broken, desperate Yidden crowded around Rochel’s grave and cried their hearts out, just as she had foreseen. In heaven, a huge tumult ensued, as our holy ancestors pleaded before Hashem to save the Jewish people. Yet Hashem remained silent, and turned a deaf ear to their pleas. Suddenly, amidst all the noise, a wail pierced through the heavens. Mama Rochel, hearing her children’s cries, began weeping bitterly for her children. She was inconsolable. Her children were in pain! Yes, they had sinned. Yes, they even deserved what was coming to them. But they were her children! She could not be comforted until her children were helped……

Hashem, who ignored the requests of Avraham, Yitzchak, or Yaakov – Hashem, who didn’t listen to Sarah, Rivka or Leah – when He heard Rochel’s pleas, He could no longer remain silent. “Enough!” He lovingly bade Mama Rochel, “Dry your tears. You requested not to be buried in Chevron, where you’d be able to rest in peace and holiness. Since you relinquished your rightful place in Me’aras HaMachpelah in order to help your children, I will relinquish My honor and help them too. Your children will not remain exiled forever. They will, eventually, return to their land.”

With these words, Hashem altered His holy plan, rescinding His initial decree. Stillness reigned in heaven once more – Mama Rochel, our loving mother, could now be consoled. Hashem had assured her that her beloved children would be safe. (Based on Rashi Vayechi. 48:7 and Midrashim quoted by Radak, Yirmeyahu 31:14)

Many touching tunes could have been chosen for today’s post, but I decided to feature a melody that is both moving and monumental. What will go down as the first song Yossi Green ever composed, Kol Berama might not have found fame had it not been for some “fortuitous” circumstances and the keen ear of a visionary choirmaster. Unfortunately, there is not enough space to write all the incredible details behind the creation of this song, so if you’d like – and if you read Hebrew – send me a note and I’ll send you the story from Yossi’s beautiful sefer, מנגינת חיי.

The song was first recorded by Yigal Calek and his Yad Bezemer Tzabarim – Pirchei Yerushalayim – in 1974, and was recorded and released in the United States by The New York School of Jewish Song in 1975 on their debut Volume 1. The third version that I’ve included is a more recent rendition recorded by the talented Yiddish Nachas boys choir on their 3rd album, Mizmor Shir L’usid Lavo in 2018.

This epic tune conveys the sadness experienced as our brethren went into galus and passed Rochel Imeinu’s kever, as well as how she herself must have felt seeing her children going by. It also reflects the deep disappointment Yaakov Avinu felt when burying her there so many centuries before. The poignant Yiddish introduction – as Yigal’s Pirchei Yerushalayim previously presented in Ivrit – describes the familiar midrashic conversation that unfolded when the Avos and Imahos went to Hashem to intercede over the idolatrous image that Menasheh placed in the Heichal. (Rashi, Yirmeyahu 31:14)

But while the low, somber part expresses Rochel Imeinu’s tearful cries throughout our long and bitter galus, what follows is the joyous, triumphant march toward our return to glory at the onset of the Geulah. It is my sincere hope that this song, a landmark composition in one of the most illustrious composing careers in Jewish Music history, will be the one to finally usher in the sounds of our Ultimate Redemption, bimheira biyameinu! Amein!

Lyrics:

קוֹל בְּרָמָה נִשְׁמָע
נְהִי בְּכִי תַמְרוּרִים
רָחֵל רָחֵל מְבַכָּה
מְבַכָּה עַל בָּנֶיהָ
מֵאֲנָה לְהִנָּחֵם
עַל בָּנֶיהָ, כִּי אֵינֶנּוּ
מֵאֲנָה לְהִנָּחֵם
עַל בָּנֶיהָ, כִּי אֵינֶנּוּ

מִנְעִי קוֹלֵךְ, מִבֶּכִי
וְעֵינַיִךְ מִדִּמְעָה
מִנְעִי קוֹלֵךְ, מִבֶּכִי
וְעֵינַיִךְ מִדִּמְעָה
כִּי יֵשׁ שָׂכָר, לִפְעֻלָּתֵךְ
כִּי יֵשׁ שָׂכָר, לִפְעֻלָּתֵךְ
‘נְאֻם הַ
וְשָׁבוּ מֵאֶרֶץ אוֹיֵב

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