Israeli Religious Right Spreads Tale of Rachel at Gaza

From right-wing Israeli news source Arutz Sheva:

Former [Shepardi] Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, recovering from a life-threatening disease, prayed several times at the Tomb of the Biblical Matriarch Rachel before the recent war in Gaza. Informed that an “old woman” saved IDF soldiers’ lives in Gaza, he said, “Did she mention that I sent her?”

The story was first told by Rabbi Lazer Brody, a rabbi in Ashdod who “devotes his time to spreading faith around the globe via Breslov Israel and the Emuna Outreach organization” that he founded.

…on Monday night of this week, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat and son of former Chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu, was teaching students in Machon Meir in Jerusalem about the sublime level of soldiers fighting on behalf of Israel.  In this connection, he said: 

“There are soldiers who have been telling that in some places where they went in, there was a woman who told them not to enter certain buildings because they were booby-trapped, and that she said her name was Rachel… I asked a certain Yeshiva dean about this story, and he told me that it wasn’t a ‘made-up story,’ but that he actually knew one of the soldiers involved, and he told me his name…”

This is the tale as it appears on Brody’s website, from 11 January:

Just now, right after midnight on Saturday night, an emotional father from Jerusalem called me and said that he had something important to tell me. His son is an NCO is a special forces unit operating in Gaza. He and his squad were about to storm a house with suspected Hamas terrorists inside. A woman in long black local attire came out and pleaded with them not to storm the house. During the fierce house-to-house fighting, the same woman appeared to the NCO and his unit in three other houses. It turned out that all four houses were booby-trapped.

Who was that woman? Sounds to me like Rachel Imenu…

According to Arutz Sheva, the mysterious old woman supposedly spoke in – erm – Arabic. Two weeks after Brody’s version, the legend has now expanded; as well as Eliyahu’s insertion of himself into the narrative, there are further details and variations, such as these:

…the soldier’s name is Yoel S… Yoel S. had the great merit to witness a miracle like those one only reads about in the weekly Parsha! (Torah portion) And, not only did he see Rachel; he spoke with her!

Drawing near a building, a woman dressed in a white Jalabiya (the traditional clothing of North African Jews from places such as Morocco and Tunisia) came out. She told them in fluent Hebrew to leave immediately, as the building was booby trapped. The third time this occurred, Yoel queried, “Who are you?” Then she revealed herself as Rachel.

Mordechai Eliyahu, it should be noted, is notorious for his sanguinary views; in 2007 he advocated the carpet bombing of Gaza on the grounds that all Palestinians were guilty for the rocket attacks and it would be wrong to risk Jewish lives in a ground offensive, and he has also offered the view that “one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs.” He had this to say about the 2004 Asian Tsunami:

Former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was quoted Monday as describing the tsunami disaster as God’s punishment for world support of the disengagement plan.

“When the Holy One, Blessed Be He is angry with the world’s nations who fail to help Israel, who want to evacuate and to disengage and who interfere in our affairs and harm us, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, claps his hands in sadness- and all this causes the quake.”

4 Responses

  1. Bring out the bigots!

  2. Whereas Hamas, on the other hand, never calls for all Jewish people everywhere to be killed…

  3. Oh so that makes it okay does it?


    Saying ‘they do it so we can’ is not the best route to take towards civilisation, neither is it an arguement winner.

    Try again.

  4. So a rabbi’s got some dodgy opinions – it’s not official IDF policy, unlike Hamas who officially call for all Jews everywhere to be killed.

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