You could have thought you were reading a Torah Minute.
But it wasn’t.
It was Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaking in the Knesset.
His speech was a masterpiece.
And it was very Jewish!
He spoke about the need for us to defend ourselves.
About the strength and determination of the IDF.
And the spirit of the Jewish People.
He also read a Prayer for the Welfare of Soldiers in the IDF.
And then he evoked the memory and image of our Matriarch Rachel.
… For this speech we need some Torah background!
Rachel’s tomb has held a very special place in Jewish hearts for thousands of years.
In fact, over the centuries, many Jewish homes have had a picture of Rachel’s Tomb hanging on the wall.
And whenever possible Jews went there to pray.
And to be inspired.
… The Talmud tells us something fascinating about Rachel’s Tomb.
About why Jacob chose to bury her on the side of the road.
It’s a beautiful tradition.
… That Jacob did it with an eye to the future.
When the Temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. And the Jews exiled.
… And as they left Jerusalem, with their spirits broken, they would pass Rachel’s Tomb.
And Rachel’s memory would inspire them.
They would pray for the Jewish future.
And Rachel would pray for her children.
… Olmert said, “I wish to conclude by reading from the Prophet Jeremiah”.
(These are words that Jews all over the world read on Rosh Hashanah.)
“Rachel cries for her children and refuses to be comforted …
Thus says G-d, “Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears…
They will return from the enemy’s land…
There is hope for the future…and your children will return to their Land”!
And the Prime Minister concluded.
“We will triumph”!
… It’s something to think about during these very difficult times.
As the Israeli Prime Minister evokes the memory of Rachel.
We should join her in feeling the pain of her children, our fellow Jews.
… Jewish tradition says that Rachel has two kinds of tears.
She cries over our suffering in the difficult times.
And she also cries for what happens to us during the better times.
When the exile seems to treat us well.
And Jews are given almost unlimited opportunities.
Because, unfortunately that comes with a price.
The risk of less Jewish knowledge and commitment. Less of a connection to our Jewish past.
Which jeopardizes the Jewish future.
… What better time for each of us to take a step in our Jewish growth?
To see what we can do that will help us – and our children – become more committed Jews.
… We should do it for the Jewish People.
And for Rachel. Our mother.
All the best,