Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the tefilos of our matriarch Rachel

As the Jewish people headed into exile after the destruction of the Beis haMikdash, they passed the grave of our matriarch Rachel. The Midrash poignantly captures the image of Rachel's spirit weeping as she watches her children departing from Eretz Yisrael (incidentally, it is my daughter Rachel's Hebrew birthday). Why specifically is it Rachel who cries more than any of the other matriarchs? There is a small sefer "Reshimos" containing thoughts of R' Noson Wachtfogel and in the volume on tefilah he addresses this question. We know that Leah is described in the Torah as having "soft eyes" (einey Leah rakos), which Chazal attribute to her crying. Leah knew she was destined to marry Eisav, but through her tefillah and crying she changed that decree and merited to marry Ya'akov. We never find Rachel similarly described as crying. The crying of Rachel for her children is to make up for the crying she was spared in her lifetime.

R' Wachtfogel adds that we see another remarkable insight from this episode. Leah suffered perhaps a few years of crying in her lifetime, but Rachel has been crying for generations for the return of all her children from galus! We learn from here the tremendous power of tears and tefilah while one is alive and grappling with the challenges of this world.

During the three weeks there is a special emphasis on reciting tikun chatzos, esp. the section for tikun Rachel, as we hope for the geulah which will bring Rachel's crying to a close.


  1. Anonymous12:28 AM

    "The crying of Rachel for her children is to make up for the crying she was spared in her lifetime."
    You write about "tears" and "crying" as if it were a precious commodity like pink diamonds, your use of the word "spared" notwithstanding.
    Why the need to "make up" for something that was "spared".

    How have we learned about the tremendous power of tears ?
    Are you suggesting that tears is the answer for everything.
    Crying as in crybaby ?

    How has Rachel's crying for years proven anything,especially about the power of crying and or tears. (provided that one can prove that she indeed is still crying over us.)
    Do you see anyone being
    "returned from galus"?

    jaded topaz

  2. I am not sure about Rabbi Wachtfogel's vort here. Why was Rachel forced to cry as opposed to Sarah or Rivkah? Why not Bilah or Zilpah? What happened to Rachel that she had to make up for the tears? Leah and Rachel's crying are completely unrelated.

    I thought it was Rachel more than anyone else because she was Yaakov's TRUE wife and she is the one buried at the "border" of Eretz Yisroel. Therefore, she is considered mama rachel, because she was the main wife of Yaakov and she is the one that is able to "watch" after us.

    Also, Leah was crying for purely selfish reasons whereas Rachel was crying for people other than herself. I just don't understand what would cause this vort from Rabbi Wachtfogel.

    However, I do understand the power of tears analogy. Leah cried while she was alive. She was suffering in this world, therefore she received the ultimate gift, being buried with Yaakov for ever. Rachel on the other hand did not suffer in this world and therefore her "tears" are much less effective.

    It is interesting to see that we do consider them to work at some level though. Which is interesting in and of itself. How can tears help after you are no longer in this world? I thought we hold that only actions in this world matter and then once you die you are stuck with whatever you did in this world? I guess it is a tzarich Iyun.

  3. Anonymous2:00 AM

    think you would like this.

  4. >>>Leah was crying for purely selfish reasons

    Is the desire to be married to a tzadik and bring out the lineage of klal yisrael a selfish motive?

    >>>How can tears help after you are no longer in this world?

    It can help like any other meiletz yoshers's tefilos, b'frat here the midrash refers to yirmiyahu going to the avos and imahos to ellicit their tefilos. But even in the next world there is a concept of aliyas haneshoma -- R' Dessler explains it somewhere in Michtav.

  5. I thought that she was crying because she thought she had to marry eisuv.

    Also, Aliyos haneshamos only exists when, if A is dead and B is alive, B does something for A. A in and of himself can not do anything to make his neshama go up. The idea of eliciting the tefilos of dead people sounds like a nice idea, but how does it work? I always thought that when you pray for a zadik's help it was just that through the zechusim of the tzadik you would attain te help you need. if you are actually praying to a dead person to ask G-D for something for you that is assur. That is avoda zara. So I don't really understand how a dead person is actually crying here.