Midreshet Amit


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A Hard Long Road

By: Paula Moskovitz

In this week's parsha, Parashat Vayetzei, we meet Rachel, a central character of the storyline. She faces many struggles that she overcomes throughout her lifetime. Her first challenge occurred when Yaacov, her husband-to-be, was tricked into marrying Leah, her sister. Rachel understood that Leah would be extremely embarrassed if she did not know the secret signals at the chuppah and therefore told her sister how to communicate with Yaacov. This act of kindness seemed to be overlooked by G-d, since after Leah married Yaacov she had many children, while Rachel remained barren. However when looking closely at the pesukim one can see that Rachel was constantly looking outwards and did not try to find strength from Hashem.

In the beginning of the parsha, Rachel angers Yaacov by blaming her inability to conceive. He states: "Am I in G-d's place? [It is He] who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb.(30:2) and tries to show her that she needs to form a stronger connection with Hashem. Later, the incident of Leah and the dudaim occurs. This, once again, shows fault in Rachel's character for she was able to swiftly trade her intimacy with Yaacov for fertility flowers. Here, the Keli Yakar states that Leah tried to approach Rachel and tell her that she needs Hashem's help to have children. Leah stated that Rachel was constantly looking for a logical explanation to having children while she actually needs to focus on her spirituality. Rashi even mentions here that Rachel was punished and not buried next to Yaacov since she thought that she could manipulate with whom Yaacov slept.

After much sorrow for Rachel, the Torah says, "Elokim remembered Rachel, and Elokim perceived her [plight] and opened her womb (30:22)." The fact that Hashem heard and listened to Rachel shows that she finally opened up and found her connection with G-d. Rachel then gives birth to Yosef and is extremely grateful, but she was still lacking something in her connection to Hashem. This is seen when Yaacov and his family run away from Lavan's house. Rachel steals Lavan's idols and while Rashi states that Rachel took them because she wanted to show her father that there was only one G-d, the Radak disagrees. He argues that Rachel did not want Lavan to find out where her family was headed and therefore took his idols. This implies that she did in fact believe in the power of her father's idols and did not have complete faith in Hashem.
However, Rachel finds Hashem fully in the end. Rav Bazak states that although Rachel had a tragic life with many challenges, she achieved a full teshuvah. In next week's parsha, Rachel finally completes her connection with Hashem when she gives birth to Binyomin, who she calls Ben-Oni, or son of my sin. By naming him this, Rachel is accepting that she sinned in the eyes of Hashem and regrets her actions. We can learn from this that although Rachel's life is so tragic, her ability to perform a full teshuvah is great. As a result of this "full circle", Rachel has the zechut to daven for her children because she understands the pain and struggle that each and every one of us goes through. Despite her ups and downs, Rachel Emeinu is our righteous mother who we can all look at and relate to when going through hard times and helps us understand that a full teshuvah and connection with Hashem can be attained.

Paula comes to AMIT from West Orange, New Jersey and plans on attending Barnard College in the fall. In her own words, "I enjoy working and bonding with the children in my mishpacha every day. They are all so cute and we are slowly forming unique connections which I love. I even ate dinner with them last Friday night which was an amazing experience!"