My Ancestors in Israel
|Posted on April 17, 2023 at 7:30 PM|
Today is the first day of the month of Nissan which holds the holiday of Passover on the full moon. It's the month of miracles and freedom. It's the month that says no matter where you start, even as a slave, things can get better for you. The Jews brought in the concept that things can get better - determinism doesn't have to control us - there is free will. We all have the freedom to make changes.
But onto my trip to Israel:
The most famous and studied commentator on Torah named, Rashi, said (in the 11th century!!) that there will come a time when the nations will say that we are stealing the land of Israel. That's why, he says, the Torah was started with "G-d created Heaven and Earth", instead of the Torah portion where G-d commands Moses to start counting the moons by the month of Nissan, making Nissan the first of the months - the new year. (There are 4 new years on the Jewish calendar). Instead, Torah began with the creation of the world, says Rashi, not the creation of time, so that we will be able to say to those nations, "G-d gave us the land and He was the One who created the earth"...
This is what stands out to me after visiting the land of Israel - that I visited the most hotly contested pieces of land because I visited all of my ancestral tombs and children do get a bit wonky when dealing with inheritances.
Tombs and Ancestors
I feel very fortunate that I went to Israel with a Chabad group. We were told by our tour guide that no one else tours these contested areas. We went in bullet-proof buses with armed guards - to visit our ancestor's burial places. How strange is that?
The cave of Machpelah houses Adam and Chavah (Eve), Abraham and Sarah, Yitzchok and Rivka (who we couldn't visit due to them being on the other side - for our "cousins" to visit without running into us), and Yaakov and Leah. Visiting this cave was just awesome!!! I could definitely feel the energy. But it was the visit with Momma Rochel in Hevron that effected me the most.
And how can I even say this is real - that they are really there - that these are MY ancestors? The tour guide said that with Kever Rochel, it has been for at least 2000 years that people would say this is where she is. Near Bethlehem which is not a place I can visit without fear.
My claim to this ancestry is a clear line all the way back. I have my father who said he was a Kohein. This means he would be able to count his ancestry all the way back to Moses's brother Aaron. Aaron was from the tribe of Levi who was Momma Rochel's sister's son. Leah's son. So Rochel is my great, great, great aunt. Also, my name sake is Rochel. I was named after my mom's grandmother, Rose. Whose Hebrew name was Rachel. My Hebrew name is Chaya Rochel or Chaya Raisel in Yiddish. Literally, my name means, Life of Rachel in Hebrew.
So yes, I felt the most connection to Rachel when I visited her incredibly protected tomb. I have a puzzle of Rachel's tomb that looks nothing like it does now. It's now got severe walls surrounding it. Since giving away the land for peace, we've had to protect this place so that we could visit it without being murdered.
Not wanting to be harsh but that's the story. The visit to Israel was very meaningful to me and so interesting because when I think back over what I saw, most of it was the burial places. I did pray to our ancestors and I prayed at the Kotel (wall) and placed prayers in its cracks for my friends and family. It's a trip of a lifetime and I'm so glad I did it.
Now back to my reality of being retired and starting my new bucket-list life.
Take good care,