Rescue in the Tomb of the Patriarchs - Jewish Outlook

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Rescue in the Tomb of the Patriarchs

This   unique   story   about   a   midwife   from   the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem was related  to me from three different  sources.   When I recently  mentioned it  to  our  good  friend Charlotte   Saunders,  she  replied:   “Oh!     I  know this  story  quite  well  already.     This  woman  was one  of my  ancestors.   My  family  mentioned her story a few times.”

Charlotte,  after  thirty  years  of  quite  successful work   as  a  therapist   in  Manhattan,  New   York, chose  to move  to the  Jewish  Quarter  in the  Old City  in Jerusalem, near  the  Western  Wall  of the Holy  Temple.     She  feels  at  home,  very  blessed and privileged to be here.

The following  story happened generations ago when the Turkish  Empire  ‘owned’  the Holy Land. The Sultan held a tyrannical rule, as was the tradition  and the oppressed Jewish communities were living under extremely difficult  conditions.

In   the   Jewish    Quarter    in   Jerusalem   lived   a humble  midwife  called  Frume  Rivele.    In  those days,   giving    birth   was   often   an   ordeal    that

mothers   wouldn’t   survive.       But  expectant mothers   knew   that  when   Frume   Rivele   would come and help, somehow the baby would  emerge into the world without complications.   This happened  regularly.     Sometimes  deliverance would come as soon as she would enter the room, no matter  how  long  and agonizing the labor  had been up to then.

The day came when the Sultan’s  wife had been in a very difficult labor for three days.   The Sultan, knowing  that  the  prayers  of the  Jews  were powerful  in intervening with G-d, made a decree: “The whole Jewish  community has to pray for my wife  until  she gives  birth.   If she dies,  I will give the order that every Jew in Jerusalem be put to death!”

What  could  the  community  do?    Frume  Rivele was  quickly   dispatched  over  a  day’s  journey   to the Sultan’s  palace  situated  in Meron,  to see how she could  help.   The Sultan’s  wife was at the end of her strength,  barely alive but as soon as Frume Rivele  entered   the  room,  the  Sultan’s   wife  was able  to deliver  a healthy  boy.   Soon  mother  and child  were  recovering.      The  Sultan   was immensely grateful  and overjoyed.   He called Frume Rivele to his side.

“You  did good  work,  my wife  and son are well.  I

would  like  to  pay  you  for  your  services  –  I  can give you gold, jewels, precious  stones….”

“Your  Highness, I do not desire  any of those,  my only  request  is that  I may  be allowed  to pray  at the  Tomb  of  our  holy  Patriarchs, Abraham, Yitzchak & Jacob and of our holy Mothers, Sara, Rivka & Leah.”

“Granted.”

Frume Rivele was overjoyed.

“Thank  you – may you be blessed  with all good.”

However  there  was  one  problem:      in  his excitement the Sultan had completely forgotten about  one  important  issue.    A  few  months   ago the Palestinian Arabs had passed a decree that forbade  any  Jew  to come  to pray  at the  tomb  of the Patriarchs, under  penalty  of death.   Someone reminded the Sultan of this decree.   The Sultan realized that his permission to allow a Jewish woman  to  enter  inside  could  create  some problems  for  him.     In  the  eyes  of  many,   this would  be  considered  a  desecration  of  the Sanctuary.  So he consulted with his ministers about it.

“I have  a problem  – maybe  you  can  solve  it for me.    I  gave  my  promise   to  the  Jewish  midwife that she could pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. I had forgotten  about  the decree  that forbids  any Jew to worship there, even more so, a Jewish woman!

“You told her she could get in?”

“Yes I did.”

The Sultan  thought  for a moment.    Then  he had an idea:  “However I didn’t  tell her she could  get out of there.”

“Your  Highness, let  us  handle  this  for  you,”  the

ministers reassured the Sultan.

Frume  Rivele  was  escorted  to  the  massive structure  built  over  the  Tomb  of  the  Patriarchs. She entered the building and a huge iron gate slammed  behind  her.  She was alone.   She prayed from  the  deepest   depths   of  her  soul  for  a  few hours.   Then she realized  it was night.    When she returned  to the entrance  gate, no one was there – she  called  out  –  no  answer.     She  waited  a  few hours  in  the  cold  night.     She  called  again  and again.  Dead silence.

It began  to dawn  on her that some treachery was intended  toward  her.   She sat on the ground  and wept.     She  wasn’t   afraid   for  her  life,  she  was ready   to  meet   with   her   Creator,   but   she   was praying and weeping about the suffering of her people,  the  long  Exile  of  our  souls.    She  prayed for  all  the  mothers   who  would   need   her  help while  in labor,  she prayed  for the Redemption of the world.  She soon fell asleep lying on the stone floor.   She had a dream.   In her dream,  she saw a magnificent   Light    approaching   her.       In   the middle   of  the   Light,   a  tall   and   majestic   man stood in front of her.

Frume  Rivele  awoke  and  looked  up  to  see  this same  awesome   man  standing   before   her.    She heard his voice:   “I am David HaMelech, your ancestor.    Take  my  hand  and  I will  lead  you  out of here.”   She  took  his  hand  like  a child  holding her father’s  hand.   Then he handed  her a book of Tehillim  (Psalms)  as a gift.   She  heard  his  voice again:   “I am the one who wrote these words.” Together  they  walked  for  some  time  in the  dark night.   Gradually everything around her became familiar.   She looked around and behold! She realized they were now walking in the Jewish Quarter!   In  Jerusalem! She  was  home!    In  awe she  turned  to  thank  her  mysterious companion. He had silently  disappeared.

Later on, Frume  Rivele  realized  that if the Sultan found out that she had escaped  from the Tomb of the Patriarchs, he would  have  her killed.   So she and her husband  escaped  and returned  to Russia for   the   remaining   part   of   their   lives.       Her husband   was  the  renowned  leader  David HaMaggid.   He  was  the  father  of  the  legendary seven brothers from Kamionka who had extraordinary powers of intervention, more than can possibly  be described here.

My  friend   Charlotte   told  me  that  the  book   of Psalms   Frume   Rivele   received   during   her   life saving  rescue  was  later  handed  down  as  a most

precious possession by her ancestors for a few generations.  Eventually it got lost during  one of the many moves  of the family  around  the First or Second  World Wars.

Charlotte   has  been  following  in  the  footsteps  of her  humble  and  extraordinary ancestor.    She  is an  effective  therapist  with  a special  healing  gift. She  helps  her  clients  release  childhood traumas and   emotional  blocks   and   give   birth   to  their unique talents freeing them to release their own potential  easily and painlessly.


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Daily Torah Quote

Joke of the day

Little Josh was brought to Dr. Gill cause he hadn’t eaten anything for days. Dr. Gill offered him all the goodies he could think of. No luck. He tried a little scolding. It didn’t work. A little pleading, to no avail. Finally he sat down, faced the boy, looked him in the eye. He said, “Look young man, if you can be stubborn, so can I. You’re not going anywhere till you eat something. You can have whatever you want, but only after you have eaten will you leave.” Josh just sat and glared for some time, then said “OK. I’ll eat but I have some conditions. First, I’ll have exactly what I want and exactly how I want it and second you’ll share with me.” Dr. Gill was OK with this. He asked the child what he’d like. “Worms!” said Josh. Dr. Gill was horrified but didn’t want to back out and seem like a loser. So, he ordered a plate of worms to be brought in. “Not that many, just one,” yelled Josh as he saw the plate. So, everything other than one worm was removed. Josh then demanded that the single worm be cut into two pieces and then Dr. Gill eat half. Dr. Gill went through the worst ordeal of his life, and after finishing, barely managing to keep his cool, said, “OK, now eat!” Josh refused as he sobbed, “No way! You ate my half!”