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Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Resting Place of the Mothers©

By Vardah Littmann

On a hillside overlooking the Kinneret , a modest pavilion marks the site of the resting place of six of our matriarchs from the Tanach. Each one of these women was a cornerstonein the building of the Jewish nation. This site is at the end of HaShomer Street in the Kiryat Shmuel neighborhood of Tiveria. The authenticity of this site is documented in three different sefarim that are over 180 years old-- Seder HaDorot, Masorot Eretz Yisroel, and Chibat Yerushalem

Bilhah and Zilpah: 
They were the daughters of Lavan from his concubines. Lavan gave them to Leah and Rachel as handmaids, but being the sneaky cheat that he was, he gave the younger one, Zilpah,  to Leah as part of the hoax to fool Yaakov that Leah was Rachel. When Rachel saw she was not bearing children, she offered to give her handmaid Bilhah to her husband as a wife so they could be blessed with offspring. Yaakov freed Bilhah and married her. And thus, Dan and Naftali, where born. When Leah saw what Rachel had done she too gave her handmaid toYaakov. He freed Zilpah and wed her, and this  resulted in the birth of Gad and Asher. Four of the holy shvatim are the sons of these great women.

 Born exactly at the moment when the Jews entered the gates of Egypt, Yocheved was one of the midwives in Egypt who refused to heed Pharaoh’s command to kill all the newborn Jewish males. They called her by the name of “Shifrah” since she would shafer (beautify) the infants by cleaning them and straightening their limbs. Hashem rewarded her for this act of kindness by giving her levitical houses, priestly houses, and royal houses. Yocheved was the mother of Moshe Rabeinu, the foremost of the Levites, Aaron who was the father of the hereditary priest hood, and Miriam whose descendants included Malchus Beis David.

 When Yitro threw  Moshe into a pit, Zipporah fed him each day for ten years. Then Moshe married Zipporah. As the wife of Moshe Rabeinu, she saved Moshe's life again, when they were on the way to Egypt with their uncircumcised baby. An angel came in the form of a large snake and tried to kill Moshe. Zipporah grabbed a sharp stone and circumcised her infant, which caused the snake to retreat and disappear.

Both women Yocheved and  Zipporah gave and saved Moshe' life respectively.This ensured the giving of the Torah which is the life blood of Am Yisrael. They have surely earned their stature as Mothers of the Jewish people.

Elisheva was the daugther of Aminadav, the sister of Nachshon, and the wife of Aharon HaCohen. Some opinions state she was also one of the brave midwifes who defied Pharaoh. 

Counted as one of the seven prophetesses, Avigail appears in Shmuel Alef, Chapter 25. One of the first things the text tells us is that Avigail and her first husband Naval were incompatible. Add to this the fact that the man was an evildoer. Despite her marital difficulties, Avigail tried to make the best of things and displayed diplomacy, justice, and self control. In the end, she was rewarded by becoming the wife of David HaMelech.

To reach the Mothers’ gravesites, enter Tiveria from Road 90 which takes you to Rechov Elchadaf. Then turn right into Rechov Ohel Yaakov and then left onto Rechov Neiberg, and further on to Rechov HaShomer. At the end of Rechov HaShomer after 100 meters on the left side of the road, you will find the domed structure of the Mothers’ tomb.

Published in "The English Update" 16 June 2011

1 comment:

  1. I must be easily entertained, because I thought my Edmonton insurance brokers had good stories, but this was amazing to read about. The feeling, and the content both made my draw drop. Thanks for giving people a look into your beautiful culture.