Midrash: Rachel Interceded
on Behalf of Jewish Exiles in Babylon

 
This account of the Midrash concerns the forced exile of the Children of Israel from the Land to Babylon.  The story goes that Moses and the patriarchs all presented themselves before God and presented their logic in an attempt to sway the Holy One, Blessed be He, to allow the end of the Babylonian exile and permit  those Jews to return home to the Land of Israel.  Only Mother Rachel succeeded with a very compelling argument...

The children of Israel raised their voices in sore lamentation, and the sound of their grief pierced to the very heavens.  Meantime, Moses returned to the Fathers, and reported to them to what dire suffering the exiled Jews were exposed, and they all broke out into woe-begone plaints.  In his bitter grief, Moses exclaimed: "Be cursed, O sun, why was not thy light extinguished in the hour in which the enemy invaded the sanctuary?"   The sun replied: "O faithful shepherd, I swear by thy life, I could not grow dark.  The heavenly powers would not permit it.  Sixty fiery scourges they dealt me, and they said, 'Go and let your light shine forth'" Another last complaint Moses uttered:  "O Lord of the world, Thou has written it in Thy Torah: 'whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall no kill it and her young both in one day.'  How many mothers have they slaughtered with their children--and Thou art silent!"

Then with the suddenness of a flash, Rachel, our mother, stood before the Holy One, blessed be He:  "Lord of the world," she said, "thou knowest how overwhelming was Jacob's love for me, and when I observed that my father thought to put Leah in my place, I gave Jacob secret signs, that the plan of my father might be set at naught.  But then I repented me of what I had done, and to spare my sister mortification, I disclosed the signs instead to her.  More than this, I myself was in the bridal chamber, and when Jacob spake with Leah, I made reply, lest her voice betray her.  I, as woman, a creature of flesh and blood, of dust and ashes, was not jealous of my rival.  Thou, O God, everlasting King, thou eternal and merciful Father, why wast Thou jealous of the idols, empty vanities?  Why hast Thou driven out my children, slain them with the sword, left them at the mercy of their enemies?"  Then the compassion of the Supreme God was awakened, and he said:  "For they sake, O Rachel, I will lead the children of Israel back to their land."

(Quoted from Legends Of The Jews by Louis Ginzberg,  Jewish Publication Society, copyright 1920 & 1948, Philadelphia, vol. 4, pp. 309-310.)



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