Rachel Imenu, Learning To Forgo -

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Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 8-14
Group Size: 4-40
Estimated Time: 70 minutes

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Resource Goal

To teach the chanichim about (1) Rachel’s unique character, therefore (2) why she’s the only one of our Avot and Imahot who is buried in a different place, as well as (3) why Rachel was the only one who was able to convince Hashem to bring the nation out of exile.

Required Props & Materials

 Appendix 1

Because they couldn’t take Rachel’s body to Maarat Hamachpela because it was too far.

Because Binyamin was only a baby and they couldn’t leave him alone.

Because Yaakov was too old to travel all the way to Maarat Hamachpela.

Because Yaakov knew that when the nation would be exiled into galut they would pass by her grave and would want to pray that Hashem would listen to their tefilot.

Because Rachel’s father wanted her to be buried in Charan, while Yaakov wanted her to be buried in Eretz Yisrael so they compromised on a place in the middle.

Because there was no more space in Maarat Hamachpela

Because Yaakov couldn’t delay burying Rachel and Maarat Hamachpela was a lot closer.

Because Rachel asked to be buried in Maarat Hamachpela and they were obeying her wishes.


Appendix 2

The Midrash tells us that God sends the prophet Jeremiah to the Patriarchs, Avraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to Moshe - all of whom have left the world - to ask their participation in mourning and pleading for a better future for the Jewish people. Each advocates for Israel, attempting to appease God by asking Him to reciprocate for his past good deeds.

Avraham reminds God of his willingness to have sacrificed, Isaac, his only son. In essence he says to God, "When You told me to sacrifice my son, I became like a cruel person. I did not pay attention to my merciful feelings as a father. I put Isaac on the altar and tied him down in order to sacrifice him. Why will You not reciprocate by having mercy on Your children, Israel?" But God does not respond.

Next, Isaac reminds God of his willingness to have allowed himself to be sacrificed by his father, Avraham. He asks that God reciprocate by having compassion for and saving the Jewish people. Again there is no response. Then Jacob comes forward and essentially says, "When I came out of Laban's house where I had worked for twenty years, I was with my family and we met my brother Esav along the way. Esav intended to kill me, and I was ready to have myself killed, in order to save my children. Please remember my deed and, in return, save Your children the Jews." No answer.

Finally, Moshe speaks. "Wasn't I a loyal shepherd to the Jewish people for forty years? I led them in the desert and, finally, when they were poised to enter Israel, You told me I was to remain in the desert and die there. I was not allowed to enjoy the fruits of my labor and, now, You call upon me to join You in mourning for something I never had? Please remember my efforts and have mercy on Your people." Again, no response.

Each of the Patriarchs, along with Moshe, argues that along with the justice God exacts by exiling the Jews from Israel, He should also show mercy and ultimately save them. But God does not respond.

Back to Rachel. The Midrash tells us that she appears in front of God and reiterates to Him how difficult it was for her to have participated in the plan of replacing herself with her sister, Leah, under the bridal canopy. Rashi from Megillah 13b, gives us a background to this event: "Living up to his reputation as a deceitful rogue, Laban substituted Leah for Rachel on the wedding night. Jacob and Rachel expected Laban to attempt such a deception, and they prepared against it by arranging a secret signal between them. Seeing that they were about to substitute her sister Leah for her, however, Rachel confided the sign to her sister so that Leah would not be put to shame..." Rachel buries her desire to marry Jacob, and gives the signals to Leah. What's more, Rachel also buries her jealousy, in order to be able to carry out her plan with the purest intentions. Rachel asks God the following: "If I, as a flesh and blood mortal, was able to transcend my jealousy and anger, how much more so should You, an immortal King, find compassion for Your people."

The Midrash tells us that, as soon as she says this, God responds to Rachel's tears. He promises, for her sake, that He will ultimately redeem the Jews from their exile: "Rachel recalled her own magnanimity to her sister, Leah. When Leah was fraudulently married to Jacob in place of Rachel, Rachel did not let jealous resentment lead her to protest. Why then, should God be so zealous in punishing His children for bringing idols into His Temple? God accepted her plea and promised that Israel would be redeemed eventually, in her merit."

As it is written in Jeremiah (31:14), "Thus said Hashem: A voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping, Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be consoled for her children, for they are gone. Thus said Hashem: Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for there is reward for your accomplishment - the word of Hashem - and they will return from the enemy's land. There is hope for your future - the word of Hashem - and your children will return to their border."

Why is it that God responds to Rachel and not to the Patriarchs or to Moshe? Certainly these were men of greatness and inordinate dedication to the Jewish people. Reb Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin proposes that the difference lies in the initiative Rachel takes, without first having to be commanded by God. From this perspective, we can say that the Patriarchs and Moshe perform their acts of self-sacrifice in response to God's command. Rachel, on the other hand, takes it upon herself to mastermind a plan that will save her sister's dignity, without any prior directive from God.

Had Rachel followed through with her own marriage to Jacob, God would not have held her responsible for Leah's embarrassment. This is because Leah's predicament would have been Laban's fault, since the plan was his. Nonetheless, Rachel takes it upon herself to act above and beyond her obligations. Accordingly, Rachel comes to God with a very strong argument for why her own actions should be a model for God in His treatment of the exiled Jewish people. She is able to say to God, "According to "halacha" (Jewish law) there is no reason why You should save Your people, since they have clearly transgressed. But, inasmuch as I acted with compassion to save my sister, You should do the same." And God accepts.


Appendix 3

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14. So says the Lord: A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children for they are not.

   , , , :  -, .

15. So says the Lord: Refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is reward for your work, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.

  - , -; , .  {}

16. And there is hope for your future, says the Lord, and the children shall return to their own border.

Appendix 4

Resource Contents

 Progression of the peula:

Part 1 – It’s difficult to forgo

Part 2 – What made Rachel so special

Part 3 – Why Rachel was buried on the way

Part 4 – Kever Rachel

Part 5 – “Rachel Mevaka Al Baneha”

Part 1 – Forgoing (Younger ages: Chair game; Older ages: any game that they have to give up something of theirs for someone else. Eg any game that when you’re out, really the person to your left is out. You can stay in the game etc.)

The chair game: Arrange chairs in a line, enough for one per person minus one. Every second chair is facing the other direction. Play the music or sing a song and the chanichim have to walk around the room. As soon as the music stops, each person has to find themselves a seat. The last one standing is out. Play again with one less chair, and repeat until there is a winner.

Give each chanich a paper with the name of another chanich in the group. (If not Shabbat, can ask each chanich to write their name on a paper and hand it back to the madrich. Shuffle and distribute). Play the chair game again but this time when he finds a chair he must give it to the chanich he has been buddied with. The winner is the last person standing.

Ask the chanichim:

-          Which version of the game did you enjoy more?

-          Was it difficult for you to give up what was yours?

-          When is it hardest for someone to forgo what is theirs? (When it’s something very important to him)

-          Try to think of situations when you had to forgo something and you found it very difficult.

-          How did you feel when someone gave up something for you?

Conclusion: Giving up something is difficult, particularly when you miss out on something important as a result.

Part 2 – Rachel’s unique quality

Read the following. You can act it out as a play, or give everyone a copy with a different line highlighted. Each person must read their part when it’s their turn. Think of any creative way.

Rachel’s story – Yaakov Avinu was looking for a wife. He went to Charan where his father’s family was. Yaakov arrived in Charan and asked Lavan to marry Rachel, his daughter. Lavan had two daughters – Rachel and Leah. Leah was the older one and Rachel was the younger one. Yitzchak had two sons: Esav, the oldest and Yaakov, the youngest. Since they were family, ever since they were young everyone said that the oldest boy would marry the older girl and the younger boy would marry the younger girl. Rachel was very happy about this because Yaakov was a Tzaddik, while Leah would cry all the time because she didn’t want to marry Esav the Rasha.

Lavan, the girls’ father, was a cheat and told Yaakov that he must work for seven years in Lavan’s home and in return would be able to marry Rachel. Even though Lavan had tricked Yaakov a number of times, Yaakov wanted Rachel so much that he agreed and worked for seven years in Lavan’s house. After seven years Yaakov and Rachel were ready to get married. Since they knew that Lavan had a history of cheating people, Yaakov asked Lavan to marry his younger daughter, Rachel, so that he wouldn’t swap her for Leah. Additionally, Yaakov and Rachel came up with secret signs between themselves so that under the chuppa, when it was dark, Rachel would whisper the signs to Yaakov and he would know that it was Rachel.

But Lavan swapped Rachel for Leah. Rachel knew that her father would trick Yaakov, but she didn’t want her sister, Leah, to be embarrassed under the chupa when she didn’t know the signs. So Rachel taught Leah all the secret signs. Rachel had waited seven years for the day she could marry Yaakov and she feared that if Yaakov married Leah, he would never marry her. Nevertheless, Rachel taught Leah the signs just so she wouldn’t be embarrassed.

And what happened? Under the chuppa Leah whispered the signs to Yaakov so he was convinced it was Rachel. In the morning, when it became light, Yaakov saw that in fact he had married Leah! He immediately went to Lavan, “Why did you trick me?!” Lavan responded, “Here, we don’t marry off the younger one until the older one is married. If you want to marry Rachel, you must work for me for another seven years.” And so Yaakov worked for another seven years in Lavan’s house, after which he finally married Rachel.

Ask the chanichim:

-          What do you think about what Rachel did? Did she have to teach her sister the signs?

-          What would you do if you in Rachel’s situation? Would you give up something so precious to you for your brother or sister?

-          What can we learn from Rachel Imenu?

Part 3 – Rachel is buried on the way

Set the scene: When Yaakov went to Eretz Yisrael with Rachel, Leah and all of their children, Rachel gave birth to her second son, Binyamin, who came after Yosef. Tragically, Rachel died during childbirth. Yaakov decided to bury Rachel on the way and not in Maarat Hamachpela with all the other avot and imahot. Why?

Spread out possible answers on the floor (appendix 1) and each chanich must choose the answer that they think is correct.

(*You can make multiple copies of each possible answer and then once chanichim have chosen theirs, get them to place their answers on the floor, grouping the same ones together as a bar graph. This way you can see which was the most popular answer).

The real answer is so that when the other nations would take Bnei Yisrael into Galut, they’ll go past Bet Lechem and will be able to pray at Rachel’s grave and in her merit they’ll be saved.

Part 4 – Kever Rachel

Everyone gets a piece of a puzzle (appendix 4). The picture is of Kever Rachel. Explain that it is near Bet Lechem, many people go pray there.

Final conclusion: We say how hard it is for us to forgo something for someone else, especially when we lose out as a result. We learnt about Rachel and what she sacrificed for her sister, just so she wouldn’t be embarrassed. We saw how strongly Rachel feels for the nation, so much so that she was buried on the way so she could advocate for the nation to come home from galut. Only in her merit Hashem agreed to bring the nation home.

Part 5 – Rachel cries for her children and refuses to be comforted

Present the chanichim with the midrash (appendix 2)

Prepare hats with the names: Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe and Rachel. Choose 5 different chanichim to wear the hats. Set the scene for the chanichim and each of the 5 chanichim have to try and convince Hashem to save the nation based on their own merits.

Eg. Avraham and Yitzchak use the story of the Akeida.

Read the words of the song (appendix 3)

Explain: When Am Yisrael go into galut and pass Kever Rachel they pray that they’ll be saved in her merit. Hashem hears Rachel’s tefilot and assures Rachel that because of her the nation will come home.

Teach the chanichim the tune (use a CD/computer if not Shabbat)

Conclusion: Each of the avot and imahot had different merits but Rachel’s unique merit was that she gave up something for her sister, she’s the one who stood up for the nation and because of her the nation is returning home.

Related Resources can be found under:

» All > Bein Adam l'Chavero > Giving

» All > Eretz Yisrael > Places in Israel > General

» All > Torah > Parshat Shavua > Breishit > Vayishlach

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