Talk about love for Eretz
Yisroel! Yaakov’s got plans to go home - after he dies. It’s
a plot that hits the spot as Yaakov yearns to be buried alongside
his parents and grandparents in the Meorat (Cave) Hamachpelah.
But Yaakov’s got a few other good reasons for making his own burial
- With a dash of Ruach Hakodesh, Yaakov saw that if he were buried in Mitzrayim (Egypt), his descendants might settle in Mitzrayim permanently. After all, Yaakov would only allow his body to be buried in a holy land, so they would assume that Mitzrayim is holy. Therefore Yaakov felt it necessary to impress upon his children that their heritage is Eretz Yisroel and that Mitzrayim is not their homeland.
- All of Mitzrayim knew that the seven year famine was cut short when Yaakov arrived. Yaakov is already revered by all Egyptians. It wouldn’t take much to push him over the "deity" line. Yaakov was afraid that if he is buried in Mitzrayim, the Egyptians would make his tomb a shrine of idol worship.
- He also knows that during the plague of Kinim (lice), (Shmot, Parshat Vaera 8:12), the lice will cover the entire Mitzrayim, above ground and below. Who would want lice covering their body, after all!
- Another reason seems far off, but legitimate. When
Hashem raises the dead during Techiat Hamaytim,
those buried in Eretz Yisroel will be first to revive.
How will those Jews who are buried in other countries be revived?
Hashem will burrow underground tunnels. All of the
bodies of the dead will roll through these tunnels to Eretz
Yisroel where they will be revived. This trip will be
troublesome and painful and should be avoided if possible.
Therefore, Yaakov wanted to avoid this pain by being buried
in Eretz Yisroel.
Now, if you thought that entering Mitzrayim was tough, you should try getting out - especially if you’re a "good luck charm" like Yaakov. It’ll take connections all the way at the top. Luckily Yaakov’s son, Yosef is Viceroy of Mitzrayim!
But with all Yaakov’s good reasons for wanting to be buried in Eretz Yisroel, he’s got some explaining to do to Yosef. Like why Rachel, Yosef’s mother, never made it to the Machpelah. She was buried on the road from Paddan Aram, a short distance from Chevron.
Before Yosef can bring it up, Yaakov beats him to
the punch. It was, in fact, Hashem who commanded him
to bury Rachel on the roadside. In the future, when Nebuzaradan,
the chief general of Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, would
take the Bnei Yisroel into captivity, they would pass
Rachel’s grave along the road to Bait Lechem, hungry
and exhausted. The soul of Rachel would weep for these Jews,
praying for Hashem’s mercy. Hashem hears her
plea. As it is written: (Yirmiyahu 31:14ff), "A
voice is heard on high, the sound of lamentation…. Rachel weeping
for her children……(Hashem replied to her) Withhold
your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work
will be rewarded, says Hashem….and your children will return
to their border."
To this very day, the tomb of "Mother Rachel," once
a lonely site by the road but now in the middle of Bait
Lechem, is a place where Jews from all over the world come
to pray in times of personal and national need.
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