Vayechi – A Jewish Mother’s Sacrifice

Rachel, passes away while travelling and is buried by her husband Jacob unceremoniously by the side of the road near Efrat. This is a source of resentment for their son, Josef, until Jacob shares that it was her wish and explains why. Notes: • In this week’s Parsha, Vayechi, we learn of the passing of one of the greatest Jewish women, our mother Rachel. And in death, her greatness is revealed even more. • It transpired that she died while they were travelling in Canaan, just short of Efrat. No doubt that Jacob would have wanted to bury Josef’s mother in the traditional plot in the Cave of Machpella, or at least backtrack a little and provide a fitting burial in Beit Lechem. Instead he simply buries her on the side of the road. Why? • In fact, this unceremonious burial of his mother remains a nagging question mark in the Josef’s heart. Now that he is about to die, Jacob, in asking Josef to assure him that he will be buried in Israel, in the Cave of Machpella, explains to his son Josef, whom he knows silently harboured resentments all these years about his mother’s burial. • And the truth comes out – this was Rochel’s own request just before she died. Rochel was a prophetess of high order, as were all the four mothers of the Jewish people. More so than their famous husbands, our forefathers. • Rochel tells her husband on her death bed, that she foresees a great calamity awaiting the Jewish people: Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the first Temple and exile of the Jewish people by his general Nevuzarradon. The forced march of the exiles would pass this very spot where she dies, and she wants to be buried there to encourage the exiles from her grave. • This demonstrates the kind of spiritual insight and self-sacrifice that has characterised Jewish mothers. • Have you recently thought about your mother, grandmother, or great grandmother?