Why is Rachel Buried On The Way?

Rachel Imaynu (our fore mother) led a difficult life. First she had to deal with a lot of aggravation concerning getting married. Her father, Lavan only allowed her to marry Jacob after her sister Leah had already married him. Next, she suffered from infertility for many years until she gave birth to Joseph. Finally, in Parshat Vayishlach we read about Rachel's tragic death while giving birth to Benjamin. As the Torah states in Breisheet 35:19 ""Rachel died and was buried on the way to Efrat which is Beit Lechem.""

The question of why Rachel is buried ""on the way"" and not buried in Ma'arat Hamachpela (the cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs) in Chevron is sure to cross our minds.

In Breisheet 48:7 right before Jacob's death he asks Joseph to bury him in Ma'arat Hamachpela and reiterates that he buried Rachel ""on the way"".

Joseph already knows that Rachel was buried ""on the way"". Joseph was there when his mother passed away. Why does Jacob again have to reiterate this information?

According to Rashi, Jacob was afraid that Joseph would resent him for burying Rachel ""on the way."" Jacob thought that Joseph might hold a grudge and not bring his own body back to Chevron. Jacob therefore explained that it was actually God's plan to bury her ""on the way"" so that she might help her descendents when they would be sent into exile. When they would pass by way of her grave Rachel would emerge and cry and beseech mercy from God for them. The Navi states in Jeremiah 31: ""A voice is heard in Rama, Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be consoled for her children, for they are gone."" God answers her: ""Restrain you voice from weeping and your eyes from tears. There is a reward for your toil and your children will return to their border (veshavu vanim ligvulam).""

God's promise to Rachel is being fulfilled on a communal level today. The Jewish people are returning to Israel. Next week, another full plane of North American's making aliya will be arriving in Israel.

Last month, Rachel's yahrzeit was commemorated in Israel at Kever Rachel (Rachel's tomb). Many single women traveled to Kever Rachel to pray for a shiduch (husband).Women suffering from infertility prayed for a child. Others came to pray for the welfare of Agunot, women whose husbands refuse to grant them a get, a Jewish divorce.

Rachel overcame great difficulties in getting married and having children. We hope that through her merits our prayers will be answered.

Let's pray that the full prophecy in Yirmiyahu 31 is fulfilled, ""Behold I will bring them; and gather them from the ends of the earth and with them the blind and the lame, the pregnant and birthing women;the young maiden shall rejoice in dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn your mourning into joy and will comfort them.""