Jerusalem – Rabbi Cherlow: Spreading Fables About Rachel Imenu is Like Communicating with the Dead


    Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Petach Tikva is a graduate of Yeshivat Har Etzion and a retired major in the IDF. After obtaining his Rabbinic Semicha, Rabbi  Cherlow served as the Rav of Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, and as a Rav at the Hesder Yeshiva in Chispin.Jerusalem – The Internet was abuzz with accounts of a mysterious woman in black named Rachel who several times warned Israeli soldiers in Arabic not to enter booby-trapped buildings. Was the story real, as claimed? Who was the saving angel?

    According to Rav Shmuel Eliahu, the chief rabbi of Tzefas and a teacher at the religious nationalist Machon Meir in Jerusalem, the mysterious woman was no less than Rachel Imenu herself. His father, the mekubal and former Israeli Chief Rabbi, Rav Mordechai Eliahu, confirmed that the woman was our matriarch coming to help her beleaguered descendants.

    After a hospitalization of months, one of the first stops that the discharged Rav Eliahu took was at Kever Rachel. He visited the shrine a total of three times

    Rav Shmuel Eliahu was asked by his yeshiva dean if the reputed mysterious woman was in any way connected to his father. Rav Eliahu was reluctant to ask, since his father usually dismisses these kinds of allegations. But he recalled that the Iraqi mekubal, Rabbi Shalom Mutzafi, had a vision of Rachel Imenu praying when he had gone to pray at her shrine during World War II when the Germans were poised to conquer the Holy Land. So he decided to ask his father.

    Rav Mordechai Eliahu confirmed that he had visited the shrine to implore Rachel Imenu to awaken mercy for her children. When his son told him about the mysterious woman who had saved Israeli soldiers, Rav Mordechai replied, “Did she mention that I sent her?”

    However, not everyone is happy that assistance with contemporary military conflicts is being sought from tzadikim of past generations.

    Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, the head of the hesder yeshiva in Petach Tikvah and a founding member of the Tzohar rabbis organization, says that stories of mythical saviors can lead to a crisis in one’s faith. Rabbi Cherlow studied under religious nationalist roshei yeshiva Rabbi Avraham Shapira and Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, although his current ideology differs from them. He is a leader in the Hesder yeshivot network and the “Datim haHadashim” movement in Israel.

    Rav Cherlow was asked on his Moreshet web site about the mysterious woman who helped soldiers, and his reply was, “Stories about Rachel Imenu are completely unnecessary… the Torah commands us to keep our distance from various forces and communicating with the dead, and to cling to life.

    “Every intelligent person would assume that this story didn’t happen and it was invented in the head of someone who found gullible people he wanted to manipulate. The world of faith demands that a person should above all be critical and not accept fanciful stories without first investigating and verifying them.

    “It’s a shame that people naively believe such stories, which destroy a person’s faculties of intelligence, and his ability to reach proper decisions. Moreover, such stories can even bring a person to a crisis in faith. For instance, why didn’t ‘she’ come to save other people?”

    Rabbi Cherlow said that even in the event that the story had taken place, “the Torah commands us to keep away from communicating with the dead and to cling to life. The Torah wants us to admire the Jewish people’s heroic courage and elevated conscience, and to realize that Hashem is behind them and He is the One Who gives us strength to succeed. Every story that attributes success to “supernatural forces” distances a person from this perception.”

    He concludes, “The Torah tells us ‘Be wholehearted with Hashem your G-d.’ Leave all these fables about Rachel Imenu and cling to proper choices in life and taking action in G-d’s world. That’s the

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    1. With all the troubles of klal yisroel, the stories about the rabbonim blocking a needed hospital expansion in Ashkelon because of a fear of moving some old bones, efforts to expand the draft deferrals for newly married men, etc. don’t the rabbonim have better things to do than debate such bubba meisas. At these times, we need torah scholars who set an example by their actions of achdus and constructive efforts to address the real problems of EY in terms of national security, poverty, hunger, huge disparaties in educational opportunities and treating all yidden, whatever their derech, with respect. Instead, they are debating these fairy tales about a black shrouded woman who magically appeared and seemed more like a character out of a bad movie with a name that sounds more like a felafel stand in bnai brak.

      • You are right. We need more Rabbis like Haskel Lookstein to go and daven for us in churches and holding hands with ministers of other faiths chanting Kumbaya my Lord. Oh Lord Kumb…… Oh lord have mercy on us. Save us from these Rabbis and other leaders. Do not permit this new president to release these murderers and Terrorists. Please deliver these terrorists to the hands of professional waterboarders and let them be tortured until they give up all information about plots of murder and mayhem. Lord please grant some brains to our new president so that he will come to his senses and throw Nancy Pelosi into Gitmo. Amen. Amen. Amen.

        • It sounds like you truly need help and maybe someone on this board can refer you in the right direction. Fortunately, your contempt for the newly elected President and leadership of this great country is not indicative of the views of 99% of klal yisroel.

          • Oh and you took a poll of 99% of Klal Yisroel? It Just so happens that about 48% of the American people did not vote for this man. Also Many people were offended by Rev. Lowry’s closing comments, hence my tounge in cheek reference to Amen Amen Amen. the fact of the matter is this president is dismanteling from the first day all the security that was put in place after 9/11 to protect us. No more waterboarding of terrorists, tying the hands of the CIA and so on. And we have Haskel Lookstein throwing away any sense of Jewish Pride to engage in a feel good interfaith service praying for this new president. So far it is still a free country and we can still critisize our leaders even though many people want to deify them. I do not beleive in Deifying Rabbis/Gedolim, and I do not beleive in deifying Presidents. I respect them but, the first ammendment says I may critisize them even in a satirical manner. I am worried about a president that can not take a joke such as the one that Biden tried to make. I also think that Obamas speach stank. Here he was standing opposite the Lincoln Memorial and he could not even mention Dr King who essentially made his presidency possible with the dream speech and the civil rights struggle. The speach was also depressing and negative. He should have given a Reagenesque speach instilling confidence and optimism in America. Then Maybe the the stock market would have gone up 4 points instead of down 4 points. I think there is much that is positive about the fact that an African American son of a Muslim has become president of this country. It shows the greatness of our freedom, liberty, and Justice for all core values. It shows that we as Americans practice what we preach.

      • Just because a Rabbi answers a question dosen’t mean that thats all the rabbis are doing the whole day”).
        You make it sound that if someone proposes a bill that thats his whole life and concern! CMON get a life don’t be so stupid!!!.

        • Any rabbonim who feel the need to prioritize the protection of some ancient bones over the immediate needs of yidden in eretz yisroel for protection from rockets falling on their children near the Gaza or the larger need to address poverty and hunger in all of EY are unworthy of the respect you are apparently willing to endow. You can say “well these heilege rabbonim must know whats best and we shouldn’t question their priorities” . My answer is simple: focus on the immediate needs of klal yisroel for security and welfare and then we can collectively consider whether there might be some better long term policy on protection of ancient cemetaries whose “jewishness” is questionable.

          • Again you know better. Maybe the disturbing of the ancient bones are what are causing the rocets in the first place? Maybe there are different solutions that would not cause bezoyon hameisim? What makes you think that you know better than the Rabbonim? As said earlier, it’s time to start working on Emunas Chachomim. Humility, might be another midah to work on, Mr./Mrs. know it all!!!

            • I’m all for what you call “Emunas Chachomim” except in cases such as this where such emunah can result in the loss of innocent lives…you can live in your own “faith-based” world…the rest of us have to live in a real world of falling rockets and terrorists…

    2. This is called jabber. Why is the story in anyway contradict the dictum of Tomim Teheye or dealing with spirits. How Hashem chooses to save us or with which messengers is his His issue. I’m not saying the story is true. But his taking this stance reflects that he has a different agenda here……which may be appropriate in and of itself

    3. According to R. Cherlow, all the storiesof Eliyahu HaNavi appearing over the centuries should be abandoned as imaginary?
      Even if we should not seek to communicate with tzaddikim of the past, why must we absolutely deny the possibility that this story is true as told?

      • There are also stories (in Yerushalaim of old) of the Avos Hakdoshim coming to help b’eis tzoroh. I recall a story widely circulating in ’67 of the Avos coming to chase away the yishmaeilim. What about the Midrash Eichah about Yirmiyahu going to wake up the Avos with the Avos coming to see the churban & the yidden going into golus. Was Yirmiyahu also ch”v doiresh el hameisim? I don’t know if this story is true or not. I do know, that it definitely could’ve happened. I also know that yidden in all times went to daven at kivrei tzaddikim in a eis tzoroh. What about the famous Rashi in Vayechi that the reason Yakov buried Rachel on the way to beis lechem was so that when the yidden go into golus in the times of Nevuzarradin they would pray there????????????

    4. לא ימצא בך מעביר בנו ובתו באש קסם קסמים מעונן ומנחש ומכשף וחבר חבר ושאל אוב וידעני ודרש אל המתים כי תועבת ה’ כל עשה אלה ובגלל התועבת האלה ה’ אלקיך מוריש אותם מפניך תמים תהיה עם ה’ אלקיך

      There shall not be found among you any one that makes his his son or his daughter pass through fire, one that uses divination, a soothsayer, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer or a charmer, or one that consults a ghost or a familiar spirit, or communicates with the dead For whosoever does these things is an abomination to HaShem and because of these abominations HaShem your Gd is driving them out from before you. You should be whole-hearted with HaShem your Gd.

      • “R. Yeissa asked: ‘Why, when rain is needed for the world, do we go
        [and pray] at [the resting place of] the dead? For the Torah forbids [us to]
        “inquire of the dead.”’
        “He replied: ‘You have not yet seen the wing of the Bird of Eden.’.
        The ‘dead’ to whom the verse refers are those who may certainly be
        termed dead, i.e., the sinners of the heathen who are forever dead. But
        of Israel who are truly righteous, Solomon says: “And I praise the dead,
        for they are already dead”; i.e., they have died in the past, but now they
        are living.
        “‘Furthermore, when other peoples visit their dead, they come with
        magic to arouse evil spirits upon themselves. When, by contrast, the Jews
        visit their dead, they come in profuse repentance before the Holy One,
        blessed be He, with a contrite heart and with fasting. This is all with the
        intent that the holy Neshamos entreat the Holy One, blessed be He, for
        mercy on their behalf — and then, for their sake, He has compassion on
        the world.
        “‘In regard to this, we have learnt: A righteous man even when he
        departs from this world, does not [truly] rise above or vanish from any
        world. For he is to be found in all worlds more than in his lifetime. In
        his lifetime, he is found only in this [material] world, but afterwards, he
        is found in three worlds, and accessible therein.
        Zohar (Acharei Mos, p. 70b ff.)

      • many instances in times of strife it is recorded that Rachel Imeynu was seen on the road in Bais Lechem comforting the Bnai Yisroel , Rochel m’vakah al boneha We need emunah and we need Hashem to remember the z’chusim of our Avos and Emunah in their interception of evil decrees today more than ever.

    5. Rabbi Chertov should get his facts straight . I went through the story several times and did not find anyone communicating with the dead. Unless he considers Rabbi Eliyahu’s visit at the gravesite of Rachel Imeinu communicating with the dead. In my view this was a heavenly miracle to save some Jewish soldiers from falling into a deadly trap set by Hamas. Yes! I do believe in heavenly miracles.

    6. I am an avel having lost my Avi only months ago. I had never dreamt about my Abba prior to his petira. I have had three dreams of him. The first is my seeing him talk to our family all together. The second was of him sitting alone in a dark room in tears bocheh. The thrid was of him talking to me in conversation I don’t remember the nakudos at all. What does this mean?

      • I am so sorry for your loss. No one can say what your dreams mean. Perhaps because you miss him terribly and are thinking about him all the time, its natural that your unconscious mind will focus on visions of him while you sleep. Whatever the reason, I hope that seeing him in your dreams brings you comfort.

        • This reply is not right. Because we learn from our great sages that ifyou have a dream of a deceased person, that dream was real, and the person was communicating with you.
          Learn more chassidus and you will see this is true.

          • from what I recall, the gemara says that most dreams go after the thoughts of the day. Now, if his father was telling/asking him something in particular, that would probably be different.

      • He might be asking you to do something for his Neshome. From time to time I make a “tfeella” in the Mikveh for an ancestor, especially on their Yohrtzeit. You might want to give a few cents for Tzedokah “Le’illi Nishmosoi” or learn a Mishnah “Le’illi Nishmosoi”. Even one Mishnah or one penny for Tzedokah can go a long way in helping him.

        Some people might think that you’re dreaming, but I have heard from my grandmother many stories that she first hand heard of parents coming to “Cholem” to their children.

        That he is able to come to you in “Cholom” is in by itself a merit that he has; many Neshomess don’t have the “Zchiya” to even come to beg for favors from their children.

        If anybody reading this likes this idea, I’ll tell you what I do. I have a list on me, of the names, and of some the Yohttzeiten of my ancestors. When I sit down to learn, I say “Hareini loimed le’ili Nishmosoi of Ploni ben/bas Ploni”. If you expect that your children should do for you, they have to first see that you do for “your” parents.

      • I means that your father is letting you know he’s in Olam Habo and is able to communicate to you thru dreams. This is fantastic, enjoy the privilege. Your father must have been a good man, as it is not everyone who can come and visit relatives thru dreams.

      • After my father was niftir I dreamt of him too, many times. Unfortunately, as the years go by I dream of him less often. Friends who have lost parents have told me that they’ve had similar occurrences. I have to conclude that it’s perfectly normal.

    7. Here now is the problem.
      Most frum yidden will believe the old stories, all of them, but refuse to believe the new ones. Next generation will believe the old ones, including the ones that are now new, but deny the new ones.
      What is left to debate is, what does this show us?
      We the people are rational, upon telling us something from time back, since it is not b4 our eyes we tend to look away, and believe irrational.

      However, to the rational person, its all the same, from 100, 1000 years ago, or yesterday.

      So before you deny the rachel story be ready for the journey.

      For the typicle person its easier to believe.

    8. We say every Motzei Shabbos regarding Eliyohu Hanovi: Ashrei mi shenosan loi Sholom vehichzir loi Sholom. Is seeing Eliyohu Hanovi bubba meisos? Therefore it is not beyond the pale to have seen Eliyohu Hanovi; especially after a soldier has done Teshuvah before embarking on his dangerous mission. Again if it is true or not I don’t know, I would first need confirmation or at least a name of a soldier who can be asked; but nevertheless that it could have happened is not in question. It has absolutely nothing to do with the prohibition of “Doiresh el hameisim”.

      • Correct. There is a firm mesorah that Eliyahu hanovi appears to a chosen few people.

        Is there a comparable mesorah of Rochel Imainu doing the same?

        If there is such a mesorah I’ve never heard of it, which only proves that there may or may not be one.

        • Is there a comparable mesorah of Rochel Imainu doing the same? Not that I know of; but as someone mentioned the Medrash Eichoh where Yermiyohu Hanovi met the Ovois Hakdoishim, Avrohom Yitzchok and Yaakov and they consoled him, so if the Ovois can come, so can the Imohos, Sorah, Rivkah Rochel and Leah. Also the Shivas Horoim, the three Ovess and Moshe, Aaron, Yosef and Dovid come to the Sukkah, and also Chasidim believe that their ancestors come to their weddings; I think it is a Zohar.

    9. Our sages ask: “Why did Yacov bury Rachel on the way to Efras,
      rather than carry her body to the ancestral plot in the Cave of
      Machpelah?” They explain that Yacov had a prophetic vision of the
      Jewish people passing Rachel’s burial place as they were exiled from
      Yerusholayem and led to Babylon. Whereupon Rachel would intercede on
      their behalf and her prayers would be heard:
      A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter wailing,
      Rachel weeping for her children…. Thus says Hashem: “Withhold
      your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears. Your work
      will be rewarded…. There is hope for your future…, your
      children will return from the land of the enemy.”
      Similarly, on his way with the spies to Israel, Calev paused in
      Chevron to pray at the Caves of the Patriarchs. These prayers saved him
      from becoming embroiled in the unfortunate plot of the spies.
      To this day, people make their way to pray at Rachel’s Tomb in
      Beislechem, at the burial place of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in the
      Machpela Cave in Chevron, and at David Hamelech’s Tomb.
      Indeed, until the recapture of the Kosel in 1967, it was at David Hamelech’s Kever that Jewish pilgrims to Yerusholayem would choose to pray.
      Similarly, the graves of other righteous men and women, both in
      Eretz Yisrael and in the world at large, in both Ashkenazi and Sephardi
      communities, have served as places of prayer for our people.

    10. We are witnessing the breakdown of the rule of Halacha and the honor of the Torah and the rise of the Erev Rav.

      This is the reason our Sages warned us in Talmud Sanhedrin about the years just prior to the revelation of Moshiach . . . and why they were grateful to Hashem that they would not live to see it.

      Yidden: Be strong and of great courage! Learn and pray and strengthen yourselves!

      • The Rebbe R’ Meilech of Lizhensk said that before the arrival of Moshiach it will be as difficult to keep our Emuneh as it is difficult to stand on the tip of a sword…

    11. If Rabbi Eliyahu confirms the story, then one may rely on him to bellieve it.

      For those conversant with these type of stories, there are many credible ones which occur from time to time.

      One such incident happened to me, when a “rabbi” appeared to help me and later, it turned out he did not exist (according to the information he gave me about himself). This occurred in a small city with a limited frum resident population.
      Hudo L’aShem Ki Tov.

    12. Is it possible that this story with Rochel Imeinu happened.? Why not?
      Does it hurt to believe it? Definitely not!
      Could it help us? Yes, it gives us tremendous chizuk.

      I guess it’s like chicken soup. It can’t hurt.

    13. IF the story was not verified by reliable people then . . .
      But a former Rishon L’Zion? With all due respect to the Rav who criticized the story he does not appear to have knowledge of Torat HaNistar. If he did he would not have made these remarks

    14. People were not communicating with the dead…..It was more that the dead were communicating with the people.

      I hate all these negative rabbis…. as the Baal Shem Tov predicted – before the geula, the rabbis will impede the redemption.

    15. “I hate all these negative rabbis…. as the Baal Shem Tov predicted – before the geula, the rabbis will impede the redemption.”

      I think hating other jews, even in jest will slow the redmption even more

    16. >>For instance, why didn’t ‘she’ come to save other people?”

      Mama Rachel only appeared three times as we know it, because Rav Mordechai Eliyahu went to her tomb only 3 times. Imagine other Yidden doing the same beseeching her involvement on behalf of the Klal, she might be able to receive permission to help more.


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