va-ta-MAT ra-KHAYL va-ti-ka-VAYR b’-DE-rekh ef-RA-tah HEE BAYT LA-khem
יט וַתָּמָת רָחֵל וַתִּקָּבֵר בְּדֶרֶךְ אֶפְרָתָה הִוא בֵּית לָחֶם׃
35:19 She was buried on the road to Efrat
Yaakov did not bury his beloved wife Rachel in the family plot in Chevron, but rather in nearby Beit Lechem. Rashi explains that Rachel was intentionally buried there in Beit Lechem, on the side of the road on which the Jews were forcibly marched into exile following the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash. At that devastating moment in Jewish history, the downtrodden people found comfort in Rachel’s holy resting spot as she entreated God’s mercy towards His people. This is alluded to in Yirmiyahu’s prophecy (Jeremiah 31:15-17) “A cry is heard in Rama — wailing, bitter weeping — Rachel is weeping for her children.” According to the Zohar, the Mashiach will ultimately lead the dispersed Jews along that same route, again passing Rachel’s grave as they are led back to their land and thus fulfilling the continuation of Yirmiyahu’s prophecy, “they shall return from the enemy’s land… the children shall return to their country.” Today, Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of contemporary Bethlehem remains a popular destination for people to pour out their hearts in prayer for the day when all of Rachel’s descendants will pass her grave, on their way back home into Eretz Yisrael.