By comparison, getting to the Kotel is much more complicated. Parking in the Old City can be very difficult. The distant walk from the parking to the Kotel plaza in cold and rainy weather can be uncomfortable. For all these reasons, praying indoors at Kever Rachel seemed much more appealing.
This is the classic image of Kever Rachel, located on the outskirts of Beit Lechem, the Arab controlled city that non-Jews call Bethlehem just outside of Jerusalem. Kever Rachel doesn't look anything like this today.
We have visited Kever Rachel several times over the years. Each time, the entrance is somewhat reconfigured.
For now, it's a reality of life in Israel, just like being stopped outside the mall while the police check on a report of a hefetz chashood - an abandoned package that may contain a bomb. This actually happened to us after we left Kever Rachel and went to make a few purchases at Office Depot. From the highly spiritual to the mundane...
Sitting in the kever, I spoke to no one except God, reciting the eight chapters of Tehillim that I say every day. I requested blessings for those I love. And then I began to speak to God about geula.
For years, I've been moderating a yahoo group called Geula Watch which posts articles that relate to the themes of redemption, Moshiach and kibbutz galuyot. I am a kli - a welcoming receptacle for every tiny hint, every bit of news and every Torah source that points to the possibility that we may be on the cusp of Redemption. I have felt something shifting for the past three or four years and the feeling has only increased in recent weeks and months.
Everything today seems to hinge on Iran (Persia/Paras), the location of the Purim redemption that occurred 2400 years ago. The exquisite irony of the Jewish calendar rapidly approaching Purim does not escape notice.
So there I am, among prayerful Jewish women who came out on a cold, windy, rainy Saturday night to pray at the tomb of Mother Rachel, considering that maybe, maybe this really is IT and asking God to help me grapple with what this might mean on a practical level.
How should I prepare my kids?
What will happen to the people I love who don't yet live in Israel?
Will we have to go to work anymore?
Should we keep making future plans?
Will this be the last Pesach in Jewish history?
What will life feel like when the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, is vanquished?
Will we spend all our time learning Torah?
Will Moshiach communicate with us through email (email@example.com) and Facebook?
Will all the sick and injured be healed?
Will I see my father and my grandparents again?
How should I set things straight in our economic life?
Will the bill I pay in tashlumim (monthly payments) be cancelled?
Will I even have to worry about money anymore?
Am I, and all Jews alive today, really and truly the reincarnated souls of those who were alive at the time of the Exodus from Egypt?
What will happen to all our enemies?
Is the world going to change so much in the the next six months that life as we know it will eventually become a distant memory?
What will we have to lose before we reach the stage of eternal peace?
If you stop for just a moment to ponder it, the implications of actually being on the cusp of geula boggle the mind.