There’s a Kabbalistic principle that we have connections with every major biblical figure. They server as “General Souls”, from which we all have a part in, as opposed to “Particular Souls” like us. Not only we can easily connect with them, but we can even see their actions and lessons echoing in every corner of Creation we put our attentions to.
Arguably, one of the most critical personalities to understand is Rachel Imenu who serves as the model for the workings of the Shekhina. This is no exaggeration, as all other female biblical personalities take the name “Shekhina” in a borrowed sense. Only Rachel is the true model, as we will soon see.
What we can glimpse from Rachel
Rachel married Yaakov 7 days after he married Leah. The Zohar calls Rachel the “Alma D’Itgaliah” (the revealed world) and Leah the “Alma D’Itkassiah” (the hidden world). In a Kabbalistic sense, Rachel is actually one of the names of thelower Shekhina (Sephira of Malkhut, Kingdom) and Leah is one of the names of the higher Shekhina (Sephirah of Bina, Understanding), of which very few people have contact with.
However, women’s souls are derived from either one of these two imahot and this can be more or less understood based on their personalities. The Torah defines Leah having weak eyes for crying too much (because it was her lot to be married to Esav, but she changed it), and, according to Rashi, her daughter Dina was, like her, “Yatzanit” (a bit too “outgoing”, for lack of a better term) so there’s a higher chance that more emotional and extroverted women come from Leah.
Rachel, however was more discrete in a few senses. She not only gave Leah over to Yaakov on her wedding day and kept quiet, but also didn’t retort when she asked her sister for the Dudaim (mandragora) plants so she could conceive. Rachel thus is more introverted, long-suffering, and her struggles are more external.
There’s another distinction which is the fact that Rachel, the paradigm of the lower Shekhina, functions as the interface Hashem uses to manage the world. As the Sephirah of Malkhut, Rachel is the focus of the Tikkun of all the spiritual worlds. This is because, in a sense, Leah (Bina) is already fully fixed and doesn’t require barely any work on. The focus of all the mystical intentions from the Arizal are precisely to fix the last Sephirah of Malkhut.
What does this mean to us?
Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, a great Kabbalist that came before the Arizal and Rav Chaim Vital, writes in his renowned magnum opus Sha’arei Orah the many different names of the Sephirot. This is incredibly important (and fascinating), because it helps us meditate while praying and thus increase the flow of Shefathat comes down to us. The Shekhinah (Malkhut) is the one that withholds the Shefa and dispenses judgment. Therefore, since it is the lowest Sephirah, a big part of our work is to sweeten its judgments.
So, one of the most well-known names of Malkhut is אדני, which implies Hashem’s lordship over all Creation. Another name is preciselyברכה (Bracha, blessing), which means that through it, Hashem blesses our world. Other names include בתשבע (Batsheva, daughter of 7) and באר (Be’er, well [of living waters]), which all allude to the fact that Malkhut/Rachel/Lower Shekhina are the ones that give forth blessing to our world. Interestingly enough, Rachel gave birth to Yosef (the prototype Sephirah of Yesod, Foundaiton) who sustained all the brothers when they were in Egypt! A few final cryptic names include aloקול (Kol, voice), מיקדש (Mikdash, Tabernable) and אבן (Even, stone), all of which carry very deep Kabbalistic secrets.
When praying, try to meditate upon all the meanings of the names of the Shekhina, because this can give you tremendous power and advantage. Keep in mind though that our focus is solely to Hashem, we should not confuse it with the biblical physical Rachel. Rather, Rachel Imenu (our mother) helps us understand how Rachel the Shekhina works.
We see here how Rachel can be related to us in a very close sense. As the paradigm for the Malkhut, she helps us connect to Hashem in a very deep sense. May her memory be for a blessing and may we merit to draw down all the salvations we need in our lives!