Friday, October 18, 2013

Our Rachel's Tomb Now Coveted by Muslims

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                       

We have a big problem.  Our matriarch, Rachel, sister of Leah and 2nd wife of Jacob, is buried within Bethlehem's city limits on the spot where she supposedly died, on the road from Bethlehem to Efrata.   The site is less than a kilometer south of the Jerusalem's municipal border.  You can only get to it from Jerusalem on a road that is protected by high concrete walls there for security.  Rachel is an important woman in Jewish history.

According to Genesis 35:19, Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath, which is another name for Bethlehem.  "Thus Rachel died, and was buried on the road to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.  Jacob set up a monument over her grave;  it is the monument of Rachel's grave until today." 

 From the Byzantine Period on, her tomb was known to be 5 miles south of Jerusalem.  An 18th century domed building stands on the traditional site where Jews used to pray, especially in the month of Elul, which we are now in.  Samuel 10:2;    places the tomb at Ramah, north of Jerusalem.  Samuel was speaking to  Saul while making him a king and said, "When you leave me today you will encounter two men near Rachel's Tomb, at the border of Benjamin, in Zelzah." Jeremiah 31:15" 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.  ...and G-d said they will return from the enemy's land,...and your children will return to their border.  In Genesis XLVIII: 7 Jacob is saying:   And as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died unto me in the land of Canaan in the way, when there was still some way to come unto Ephrath;  and I buried her there in the way to Ephrath--the same is Bethlehem.

  Until 1948, the domed structure near Jerusalem was the only recognized site in Jewish hands to which it returned after the Six-Day War of 1967.

About 10 years ago, the Muslims, who are a majority now in Bethlehem, began calling Rachel's Tomb the "Bilal bin Rabah Mosque."  There have been no Muslims requesting to go there to pray for the the past 46 years since Israel gained control of this site.  Jews worship there all the time.  Tens of thousands of Jews were there this past Monday and will continue to come by bus from surrounding religious neighborhoods.  The reason is that this time is Rachel's yahrzeit.  On the anniversary of her death, they wish to be there and to offer prayers.

Rachel was the very beautiful daughter that attracted Jacob, causing him to work for 7 years to gain her as a wife for her father, Laban.   Instead, the rule of the land was that the oldest daughter must marry first, so he wound up with Leah, her sister instead.  Leah was plainer and had weaker eyesight than her younger sister.  So Jacob worked another 7 years to earn Rachel.  While Leah gave Jacob 6 sons and a daughter, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun and Dinah, Rachel gave him Joseph and later, Benjamin.  She died giving birth to him.

The United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization known as UNESCO, passed a resolution in 2010 saying that the "mosque" is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories and that any unilateral action by Israel it to be considered a violation of international law.  They didn't even bother to call it Rachel's Tomb, as it always has been.

Netanyahu's answer was that this attempt to detach Israel from its heritage is absurd and that UNESCO was created to promote the legacy of historic sites in the world.  Here, for political reasons that are obvious to all, this resolution is wrong.  Israel has always maintained freedom of worship for all religions in these sites.  This isn't true for the proposed 'Palestine."  They intend to not let one Jewish person on their land.  Jews will be kept from their own religious sites that mean so much to them.  Rachel's Tomb is now under IDF jurisdiction.  It needs to be under Israeli civilian jurisdiction with the IDF taking responsibility for its security.  Davidi Perl has made this request to the Ministers of Defense, Interior and Religion.  The Arabs attacked Israel over and over  to take land awarded to them legally through the League of Nations.  Now  they have been plotting to take over what is most precious to us, our religious sites.

Rachel, daughter of Laban  and Adinahand, lived at Haran in Aram-Naharaim.  Rachel is depicted by Jeremiah the prophet as weeping for her children driven into captivity by Babylon.  It is G-d's promise to her, specifically, that they will return one day, which they are doing now.  Rachel is remembered magnanimously for not letting jealous resentment lead her to protest when Leah was placed in her stead to marry Jacob. Jacob had actually labored for Laban for 14 years before he was able to marry her.

Bethlehem was actually the name of 2 ancient towns, the more well known one being 5.25 miles south of Jerusalem where David was born and is also the site of the Book of Ruth.  In 1948, Bethlehem had 10,000 people of which 7,500 were Christians since it's also the site of where Jesus was born.  2.500 were Muslims.  From 1948 to 1967 it was under Jordanian rule because they had taken it right away in 1948 though it was part of the Jewish Homeland.  The Six Day War brought it back into Israel's hands once again.  By 1968 it had 32,000 people.  "Though not initially falling within Area C, the site has come under the control of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs. Rachel's tomb is the third holiest site in Judaism. Jews have made pilgrimage to the tomb since ancient times, and it has become one of the cornerstones of Jewish-Israeli identity.  Rachel's story and history have nothing to do with the  Muslim religion. 

 She was the mother of 2 of the 12 tribes of Jacob, a Jewish figure in biblical history.   

  The 12 tribes had gone into slavery in Egypt and  came out 400 years later to follow Moses, who laid 

down the Jewish religion. 

Resource: Arutz Sheva Thousands at Rachel's Tomb for Anniversary of Matriarch's Death by Rochel Sylvetsky
Tanakh, Stone Edition
Haftorah I.
The New Jewish Encyclopedia's_Tomb

No comments:

Post a Comment