Love, agency, redemption: the legacy of the biblical Rachel – opinion

Matriarch Rachel is one of the most special female figures in the Bible. Through his conduct and personality, he represents the three exalted concepts of love, agency, and redemption.

She is the supreme symbol of love in the Bible: the beloved woman. Other women were also loved, such as Rebekah who, according to the Bible, was loved by Isaac.

However, it would be an exaggeration to say that Rebecca’s life was characterized by an existential reality of love.

But, when it comes to Rachel, love is the secret of her existence. When Jacob sees her, he forgets himself. It becomes Rambo, machismo. And with a wave of his hand he lifts the heavy stone that weighed several tons from the well’s mouth. It was a tumultuous love at first sight that lasted until the moment of his death.

Jacob’s love for Rachel gives him strength, and by virtue of that love, she also loves those around her. After Jacob worked for her for seven years, her father, Laban the Aramite, fraudulently placed Lea, his unattractive, soft-eyed sister, under the wedding canopy.

THE WRITINGS FINISH writing a Torah scroll. (credit: DAVID COHEN / FLASH 90)

However, since Jacob expected to be fooled, he and Rachel agreed on a series of signs so that when you get to the dark tent (as there was no electricity at the time) after the wedding ceremony, you know for sure that she is Rachel. .

And when Rachel discovers that Leah would be under the nuptial canopy, by virtue of her absolute love for her sister, she redeems her from her shame and tells her the signs not to be humiliated.

In fact, Jacob gets up in the morning (“And it happened that in the morning …”) and discovers to his surprise and disappointment that “behold, it was Leah” (Genesis 29:25).

Once again, by virtue of her love, before leaving her father’s home, Rachel steals the household gods to redeem her elderly father from his idol worship to redeem him and present him to a better world of freedom and new hope.

But it seems to me that there is a dramatic moment in Rachel’s life that I have never quite understood. After thinking about his character interpretation, connecting love, agency, and redemption as prophesied by Jeremiah, only now have I discovered a new perspective that I want to share with you.

Rachel is barren and asks Jacob to pray for her; Jacob is the only one of the patriarchs who does not pray for his wife. Abraham prays for Sarah, Isaac prays for Rebekah, while Jacob does not pray for Rachel.

Rachel interprets it as a lack of love and that is why she says desperately: “Give me children, or I die” (Genesis 30: 1). Many commentators have tried to explain these words in various ways, but I understand them differently.

Rachel, whose entire existence depended on the power of love and was propelled by it, fears that her husband Jacob’s love for her has diminished. As far as she is concerned, if she has no love and is no longer the beloved wife, her life is meaningless.

Love is a way of existence in Rachel’s life. It is not something idle and strange, but rather the driving force behind your meaningful activity and your ability to bring redemption, as we will see later.

However, Jacob believes that for Rachel to receive God’s love and grace, she must also love him through prayer. According to the midrash, God “is passionate about the prayers of righteous men and women.”

In fact, Raquel prays to God and loves him with all her heart and her prayers are answered by his great love. Love is your driving force for agency. It is love that brings both its own private redemption and our national-universal redemption.

And when God thinks who is the one of all the mothers who deserves that their children return from exile, he thinks of Raquel. In Jeremiah, the text says: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lament and bitter weeping; Rachel weeps for her children and refuses to be comforted, because they no longer exist ”(Jeremiah 31:15).

Rachel does not cry softly in a weak voice and her eyes are not soft like Leah’s eyes. He weeps with all his might like torrential rain. Why is he crying? She cries for the hatred that drove her children into exile and slavery.

The power of Rachel’s inclusiveness comes from the fundamental love that leads to action. Only Rachel, with the extraordinary ability for great love, true love, will be able to hold and hold her children when they return from exile.

Her crying is the power of agency for her sons and daughters, and it is also a warning sign: no more hatred! Through the power of love, we can all create and bring redemption.

Rachel is helpless against the senseless hatred directed at her children, which led to her exile. And God, seeing Rachel’s tears of love, promises her that by virtue of this love he will bring redemption.

Only a woman who has experienced true love and knows its nature is capable of loving. Women who have not experienced love are often bitter women, and bitterness leads to destruction.

But women who experience true love are also capable of passing it on to others, thus bringing redemption to themselves and to the entire world. God chose Rachel to embrace those who returned from exile only because of the great love of the beloved Rachel.

We live in a complex age, a time when darkness and redemption intermingle and hatred consumes every bit of goodness.

But redemption will come, little by little, through the power of love, the love of women who understand the secret of magic and the nature of love. The love that exists within each and every one of us women is a source of personal, public, and global resilience, and this love has the power to activate agency and bring redemption.

As women’s leaders, we must understand that to bring redemption to the world we must be generous with our love, love for love, and create spaces of love.

With the power of love and positivity to influence the world, we can activate our agency in diverse communities around the world and achieve redemption.

In the current moment of crisis, the world needs our great love more than ever, along with the great power of love that each and every one of us possesses.

Let’s learn from Rachel to wield the power of love and bring agency, light, and redemption to our world.

The writer holds the UNESCO Chair in Education in Values, Tolerance and Peace and directs the Sal Van Gelder Center for Holocaust Research and Instruction at the Faculty of Education at Bar-Ilan University.

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