Thus said G-d:
A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, and bitter weeping;
Rachel weeping for her children
Refused to be comforted . . .
Refrain thy voice from weeping,
And thine eyes from tears:
For thy work shall be rewarded . . .
And there is hope in thine end . . .
Thy children shall return to their border.
(Jeremiah 31:14, 15, 16)
Rochel Imeinu, our mother, died as she was giving birth to her second son, Binyamin. Before dying, she named him Ben Oni; the child of my pain. His father however called him Binyomin.
She died as Yaakov entered Eretz Yisroel and she was buried in Bais Lechem which is about four miles southwest of Yerushalayim.
The commentaries say that G-d commanded Yaakov to bury her in this place so that the Jews would be able to pass her kever (grave) on their way into exile, and pray for their redemption. On account of her great deed of not allowing her sister to be embarrassed in public, Hashem would hasten the final redemption.
Jacob must have known that her resting place would become, like Jerusalem, a destination for pilgrims. Therefore, the Bible writes, “Over her grave Jacob put up a pillar, it is the pillar at Rachel's grave to this day.” (Genesis 35:20-21)
According to our sages, the original monument was a pillar of 13 stones. Each of Jacob's 12 sons placed a stone on Rachel's grave, with Jacob's stone on top. It remained there, on the side of the road, for hundreds of years. From the Byzantine period (fifth century C.E.) until the 1800's, Rachel's Tomb consisted of an open dome. In 1841, Sir Moses Montefiore renovated the Tomb, constructed an anteroom, and enclosed the dome. After the war in 1948, the Arabs refused to allow Jews to pray at this holy site. It was only after the Six Day War in 1967, with the west bank recaptured, that Jews could enter it freely once again. Thousands of people continue to stream to this holy place in order to beseech G-d to fulfill their prayers in the great merit of our great mother Rochel. Praying here fills one with great awe and trepidation.
Nowadays, large cement barriers have been set up in front of the building in order to protect it from Arab terrorists. It's a sad reminder of the exile in which we still live.
Today, Rachel's Tomb has been surrounded by a building complete with reinforced concrete barriers and guard towers, but the ancient interior remains pure and seemingly unaffected by time or technology. In 1998 the entire kever was reconstructed and enlarged and now looks absolutely stunning.
Ever since her passing, thousands of men, women, and children have journeyed to the Tomb of Rachel (Kever Rochel) to request her intercession on their behalf. The barren pray for children. The sick pray for health. The lost and the troubled pray for release and relief. And no one ever leaves empty-handed. For Rochel Imeinu (our mother) always gives her blessings.
Kever Rochel -- Rachel's Tomb
Thus said G-d: