Last week we witnessed the Biblical love-at-first-sight story of Jacob meeting Rachel. Heroically, Jacob rolls the massive stone from atop the well to water her flock. Romantically, he preceeds to kiss her and then lifts up his voice in weeping.

Though this is love at first sight, its consumation is vastly delayed. Jacob has to work seven years for his deceptive uncle Lavan before he is able to finally marry Rachel. A strenuous exercise in delayed gratification. And yet, their love is so great that the text tells us that the seven years were but a few days for Jacob. Because of this morphing of time he was able to withstand the waiting period. And his commitment becomes a model for a love that transcends time and space.

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Indeed, this sense of time transcendance takes us back to the moment of Jacob''s weeping at the well. For the Midrash shares that Jacob wept because he saw with prophetic foreknowledge that he and Rachel would not be buried together(1). In this week''s parsha we see his premonition fulfilled. Rachel tragically dies in childbirth and is buried “along the road to Efrat” as opposed to in the family burial site. At that moment of the kiss, the bonds of time were trancended and he was able to have a prophetic vision of the future.

Granted, it is a painful vision. But its not unlike the story of Rabbi Akiva who laughed when he beheld the tragic destruction of the Second Temple(2). He laughed because he realized that if the negative prophecy of destruction came true, then that would necessarily mean that all the positive prophecies of return and rebuilding would also come true for the Jewish people.

Indeed, we in our own days have had the enormous gift of witnessing the fulfillment, partial thought it may be, of the myriad prophecies of return to the Land of Israel. We are the living recipients of that prophetic fruit.

In the poem below Rachel weeps for the fulfillment of the prophecy of her children''s return to this land. She reminds us that just as Jacob love for her transcended time and allowed him to make it through those 14 years of work, so too if we beleagered builders of Jerusalem can but access the vastness of our love for this land, then we can also weather through whatever waiting periods time may hold. May we merit to witness the fulfillment of a true and enduring peace in this holy land.

The Wait

You wept
As wet as wells
Having spilled
The crowning ton of stone
Onto the sand
With withered hands
but high romance

Made the skinny shepards
call the place
- the wailing well -
for generations to come

And seven years
grown old
between your gaze and mine
- was like a day -
held between the gates
of withered hands
and weathered

And know that
I weep as well
when memories of
the future spill
into our tent
and premonitions
limp into our
lamp-lit den

For if this ominous prophecy
must be then promise me
to plant your stones
on that baneful road
where house my bones

And let memorial stand,
a somber marker
in a severed land

To mark the promise
of prophecy
of transcendance
of time and of distance
with a mother''s mad insistence
that the exile of her children
must end

And when finally march
our children by
from their battered walk
through genocide
I will be weeping3
loud with pleading
at that cornerside
- where Jerusalem
meets Gush Etzion
with her border guards
and building zones

And I will lament with rage
the historic parade
through Europe, Arabia
Aushchwitz, Asyria
and back to my grave
at Bethlehem''s

And with the force of my weeping
and the form of your rocks4
will our children return
to the road to Efrat

And nineteen hundred years
- will be like a day -
held between the gates
of withered hands
and our children''s
will to weather
the wait.

*To see/hear an audio-visual form of this piece please go to:

1 Bereshit Rabbah 70:11
2  Talmud Makkot 24B
3  Foreseeing that the Jews on the way to exile would pass by the site, the Patriarch Yaacov buried her on the road on the way to Ephrath and not within the city so that she would sense their anguish and pray for them (Bereishit Rabbah 82:10). Add to this the quote from Jeremiah, “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuseth to be comforted for her children, because they are not.” (Jeremiah 31:15) Thus, Rachel stands as the archetype for the mother weeping for her children.
4 It is interesting to note that Jacob in both of these stories is engaged in the moving of rocks. First he makes a stone altar (a matzava) at the site of his famous dream of the ladder. Then he moves the massive stone from atop the well for Rachel. And finally, in the story of her death, he again creates a matzeva, a stone memorial, upon Rachel''s roadside grave.

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