The centuries-old double-domed tomb of Rachel, located in the cemetery south of Tiberias, has become a place of pilgrimage, candle-lighting and prayer in recent decades, as interest increases both in the ancient tombs of the righteous and the story of this woman, the dedicated wife of the great sage Rabbi Akiva.
The story of Rachel and Rabbi Akiva is one of the great love stories of the Jewish people. It began when Akiva was working as a shepherd for Rachel’s father, and they married over her father’s protests that Akiva had no future.
Rachel encouraged her husband to study Torah, although he was 40 years old and illiterate when he began, and had to leave her for 12 years to study.
While he was away, Rachel heard he was so poor he could not even buy lamp oil to study by. She therefore sold her long hair in the market and sent the money to her husband.
When he returned, highly acclaimed for his learning, he said all his accomplishments were thanks to wife, who nevertheless remained humble.