I woke this morning knowing that I was going to say my morning prayers in Bethlehem at the Tomb of Rachel. After getting all the children sorted and off to school, I traveled the 15 minutes it takes to get there by car from my home. On the way I encountered some traffic due to what appeared to be lots of rocks and dirt that fell off a truck and blocked one of the passageways.
There was a taxi pulled over with flats from the debris, I assume, making the journey a bit longer. I was anxious to start praying for my niece’s baby, Rachel. I have not been updated of her status other than that she is currently stable and the doctors are waiting to assess if there is any damage due to a lack of oxygen to the brain. This poor baby went into cardiac arrest twice and last I heard was on a respirator. I needed to feel like I was doing something.
Since the time of her burial more than 3000 years ago, the Tomb of Rachel has always been a special place for prayer. To this very day, men and women go to Rachel’s Tomb to shed tears and beg “Mother Rachel” to intercede with G-d on their behalf — for the health of a loved one or for Divine Intervention for those in need.
It is for this reason I went this morning. As I walked into the entrance for women, it was a strange feeling that overcame me. At 9AM the room seemed empty. A few women were scattered and I thought, perhaps because those of us that came early got to have our prayers heard more clearly. I was caught in my own prayers and though I didn’t think I would, I cried. The tears just came as I recited certain phrases…my throat caught on some of the words and it really felt (and I know this may sound weird) like I was having a one-on-one conversation with G-d.
As a busy mom, I rarely have the time to pray with complete conviction without getting my skirt tugged or my hand pulled for attention and here I was able to pray for a full uninterrupted hour. An HOUR! I couldn’t believe I was even there that long, I was so immersed in my thoughts and prayers, I hear the cries of other women, I felt their pain and tissues were passed from one stranger to another connected in this phenomenal way.
Earlier this year I suffered a miscarriage and it was the most raw pain I have ever felt. I’ve had operations, I’ve been through dialysis and childbirth, but this loss was the most utter gut-wrenching pain I had ever felt. It was the longest week of recovery because the pain was 90% emotional. In my heart I know I am blessed with many healthy children but that was a bit of a blow and I thought I’d get another chance to raise another fair headed angel. When I heard a baby cry at the Tomb this morning the water supply was released. The tears did not stop for a few minutes that felt like forever. I wasn’t crying for myself even, I am 100% OKAY with the fact that G-d had other plans for that soul. I cried because when I spoke with my niece, she mentioned she would give anything to hear her baby laugh or cry, any indication that she was responding to something.
I finished my prayers, opened my eyes to see the room was full to the brim with woman of all shapes, sizes and ages. Many with tear-streaked cheeks. I walked to the exit, deposited some coins in the charity box and with a heavy heart walked back to the car to journey home. On the return, the taxi with the flats was still there and it made me think of something profound.
There will always be obstacles that slow us down, things that make us stop and think, hurdles that we must jump over. It is the strong person who can overcome, who can see the bigger picture, who can rise to each challenge with a positive outlook and feel in their gut, their heart and their mind that there is a reason for all things and that we have the power within to make a change or offer help or be a better person.
I hope that if you read this post, you’ll give some charity, you’ll say a prayer, you’ll do an act of kindness in the merit of a quick recovery for Rachel bat Rivka Leah (Rachel the daughter of Rebecca Leah). That she live in good health and grow old and have children of her own.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.
This is Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. Jacob buried Rachel here after she died here while giving birth to Binyamin. This is a picture of the historic domed structure built by Sir Moses Montifiore. This structure is now inside a new fortified complex built to protect it.