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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rahel Imeinu is Doing More Than Crying

A couple weeks ago, R' Lazer Brody told over how a certain lady prevented soldiers from entering certain homes in Gaza that were booby-trapped - and that the lady was none other than Rahel Imeinu.

An email about this quickly spread, and a couple other blogs (maybe more) picked it up from the email.

I resisted posting this until I got further confirmation. It seems the confirmation comes from Rav Mordechai Eliyahu Shlit"a in the following Arutz Sheva article:

Chief Rabbi Confirms Gaza Miracle Story

by Hillel Fendel

( Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, recovering from a life-threatening disease, prayed several times at the Tomb of the Biblical Matriarch Rachel before the recent war in Gaza. Informed that an “old woman” saved IDF soldiers’ lives in Gaza, he said, “Did she mention that I sent her?”

The story was first told by Rabbi Lazer Brody, a rabbi in Ashdod who “devotes his time to spreading faith around the globe via Breslov Israel and the Emuna Outreach organization” that he founded. Rabbi Brody told Israel National News that he receives many phone calls in the framework of his work – including a particularly noteworthy one about two weeks ago. “The caller, an Israeli man, was clearly knowledgeable about how IDF infantry troops operate,” the rabbi and former IDF special-unit veteran said, “and this is what he told me:”

‘My son is in the Givati Brigade, and his unit’s job is to clean out areas around Gaza City. Outside one house, a woman dressed in black appeared and started yelling at them in Arabic, ‘Ruchu min hon – Get out of here! It’s dangerous!’ The troops thought she might be trying to protect her family, but they didn’t want to take chances; the company commander called the regiment commander, and they went on to their next target. There, too, the same woman appeared and gave the same warning. The soldiers thought she probably came somehow through the tunnel network that Hamas had set up between houses, and one of the soldiers even yelled at her… Then they went to a third house – and the same woman appeared again. This time, all the soldiers froze.

‘The soldiers then hooked up with a Golani Engineering force whose job it was to blow up houses that were found to be booby-trapped. My son’s unit asked them to check these three houses – and they found that all three of the houses that the woman had warned them away from had been booby-trapped.”

The story did not receive high-level confirmation, though it made the ranks of the rumor mills - and many dismissed it as just that. Then, on Monday night of this week, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat and son of former Chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu, was teaching students in Machon Meir in Jerusalem about the sublime level of soldiers fighting on behalf of Israel. In this connection, he said:

“There are soldiers who have been telling that in some places where they went in, there was a woman who told them not to enter certain buildings because they were booby-trapped, and that she said her name was Rachel... I asked a certain Yeshiva dean about this story, and he told me that it wasn’t a ‘made-up story,’ but that he actually knew one of the soldiers involved, and he told me his name.

Click here to hear Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu telling the story in Hebrew

"Then the Yeshiva dean asked me if it was in any way connected with the fact that my father, Rabbi [Mordechai] Eliyahu, had left the hospital before the war and went to pray not once, not twice, but three times at Rachel’s Tomb, and went nowhere else to pray? I told him I didn’t know, but that I would ask.

“In truth, I was a little bit afraid to ask him, because he usually dismisses these kinds of stories… But I decided to go, and I asked him, ‘Do you remember that you told us one time about Rabbi Shalom Mutzafi, of blessed memory, during World War II, when the Germans seemed about to enter the Holy Land, and he prayed at Kever Rachel against the decree, and he said that he actually saw Rachel praying. [My father] said yes, he remembers.

“So I told him about this story that I had heard, and I asked him, ‘Should we believe it? Is it truth?’ And he said, 'Yes, it’s true.’ I asked him to explain, and he said - in these words: 'I told her: Rachel, a war is on! Don’t withhold your voice from crying [based on Jeremiah 31,14-16]! Go before G-d, and pray for the soldiers, who are sacrificing themselves for the Nation of Israel, that they should strike - and not be stricken.'

"I told him, “Well, you should know that she really did that.” So he asked, “Did she mention that I sent her?”

“Everyone should then make his own calculation,” Rabbi Eliyahu the son then continued. “If this is the great level of the soldiers, and if this is the great power of prayer, then how can anyone say anything against them?...”

Update: Ynet quotes Rav Aviner as being skeptical. However, it seems that the statement from Rav Aviner was before the verification from Rav Eliyahu or before he knew about it, and it's possible that Rav Aviner would now agree to its veracity.


At Wed Jan 21, 06:16:00 AM 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"and it's possible..."

and it is *also* possible that he would consider him under the category of פֶּתִי יַאֲמִין לְכָל-דָּבָר, though he might not say it now because of politeness concerns.

if R' Eliyahu "confirmed" the Monsey talking fish story, would that be good enough for you, such that

also, thanks for the link to R' Brody's post. The quote:
"Who was that woman? Sounds to me like Rachel Imenu"
shows that this was the likely genesis of the calling her Rachel Imenu, and that it got incorporated into the story from there.


At Wed Jan 21, 09:24:00 AM 2009, Blogger Neshama said...

As I read about it a while ago:
THREE TROUP excursions produced the same interaction: A woman in black prevented our soldiers from being blown to bits. This happened THREE times! And the soldiers were interviewed. And, I read that one of the soldiers asked her who she was, and she responded, Mama Rochel (not exact wording).

Of course, after the first couple reports, the story takes on a life of its own.

At Wed Jan 21, 11:41:00 AM 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you point to your source, so that one can check it out, and that this is not just another twist in the developing urban legend? don't you find it this slightest bit weird that R' Lazer Brody first *speculated* that it must have been Rachel, and then in a story that clearly has morphed over time, it has her explicitly say she is Rachel Imeinu?

what is your take on it? R' Eliyahu's endorsement is good enough for you to believe the story. But which version of the story? Did she identify herself at all, did she as Rachel, as Mama Rachel? Did she speak Hebrew or Arabic?


At Wed Jan 21, 12:16:00 PM 2009, Blogger yaak said...

As in the game of telephone, many versions of a story emerge. Also, if the story repeated itself, as was indicated, each incident could have its own version.
It doesn't matter which one I believe. As far as I know, they all could be true.

At Wed Jan 21, 12:29:00 PM 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Arabic isn't that fluent (haha), but the words ‘Ruchu min hon' sure look like Aramaic to me...

At Wed Jan 21, 12:35:00 PM 2009, Blogger Neshama said...

Here's what I found:

Please read the following, and you may go to the site if you so wish:

Soldier's Secret Weapon
During Israel's operation in Gaza, religious faith has been integral to many soldiers' morale. A story has been circulating of a mysterious 'woman in black' who directed soldiers to safety just before an explosion. Shliach Aharon Pruss said soldiers are lining up to don tefillin, and a haredi organization has created a special "prayer hotline" for soldiers.

At Wed Jan 21, 01:49:00 PM 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if you read the rest of the article, you will see that the reporter is reporting this as unconfirmed, and quite possibly urban legend. As he writes:

"This story, whether true or not, is being circulated in religious circles - via Internet forums, SMS, e-mail and word of mouth - and is fast becoming an urban legend."


At Fri Jan 23, 09:42:00 AM 2009, Blogger joshwaxman said...

separate from this, what is your take on the halachic permissibility of this? do you agree that one is allowed to address the Rachel directly in prayer, at her kever? or is it doresh el hameitim?

Shabbat Shalom,

At Fri Jan 23, 12:35:00 PM 2009, Blogger yaak said...


I hope this answers your question (from Rav Ovadia's Halacha Yomit site) - the last line mentions an important point:

ולפיכך יש נוהגים להתפלל אצל קברי הצדיקים, ובפרט בערב ראש השנה. וכן כתב הרמ"א בהלכות ראש השנה, שבערב ראש השנה הולכים לבית הקברות להרבות שם בתפילות.

אלא שכתב מרן הרב עובדיה יוסף שליט"א, שההולך לבית הקברות, לא ישים מגמתו נגד המתים, שכאילו הם יושיעו אותו ויעזרו לו, אלא יבקש רחמים מהשם יתברך בזכות הצדיקים שוכני עפר. ואם ירצה יוכל לבקש מן הנפטר שיהיה לו למליץ טוב, לבקש עליו רחמים מהשם יתברך.

This is surely what R' Eliyahu did.

Shabbat Shalom.

At Fri Jan 23, 01:36:00 PM 2009, Blogger joshwaxman said...

I'm going to post about this on Sunday, bli neder. It is a machlokes acharonim whether this latter thing is in fact OK. I was just wondering what your take on it is. Would you feel comfortable doing so?

Indeed, based on the description provided by his son, this is almost certainly what Rav Eliyahu did. See my more recent post here for elaboration.


At Fri Jan 23, 02:09:00 PM 2009, Blogger joshwaxman said...

btw, the latest:,7340,L-3660079,00.html

where Rav Eliyahu's son replies to Rav Cherlow, who said it was doresh el hameisim (though he might have meant something different).

Shabbat Shalom,

At Fri Jan 23, 02:12:00 PM 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It contains the following critical paragraphs, where he explains that Rav Eliyahu did not say that he sent Rachel Imeinu, but people misunderstood the joke:

ובשולי הדברים, הבהרה חשובה. המשפט "אני שלחתי את רחל לעזור לחיילים" לא נאמר על ידי אבי, הרב מרדכי אליהו, לא באופן ישיר וגם לא ברמז. הוא רק סיפר כיצד התפלל על ציון קברה שלא תמנע קולה מבכי ועיניה מדמעה. הוא ביקש ממנה, כמו כל אדם אחר,

שתתפלל ותסייע לחיילים הנמצאים במערכה. לאחר מכן הוא אישר כי הסיפור על האישה שסייעה ללוחמים בעזה והציגה עצמה כ"אמא רחל" אכן קרה.

בשיעור שמסרתי ביום שני הבאתי את דברי הרב, ששאל בחצי חיוך: "למה אתם שואלים, היא סיפרה להם שאני שלחתי אותה?". מי ששמע את השיעור עצמו הבין את "העוקץ" של האמירה ופרץ בצחוק, ואולי מקריאת תמליל "יבש" של הדברים ניתן להבין בטעות את הבדיחה כאמירה יומרנית: "אני שלחתי את רחל". אבל אבא רק ביקש ממנה שתתפלל לקב"ה לשלום החיילים.

At Thu Jan 29, 07:46:00 AM 2009, Blogger גילוי said...


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