using Zornberg again:
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, "The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis" (1995)
An Image Book, published by Doubleday
page 303 Rachel and her children: the battle against non-being
Rachel asks Jacob for children (Genesis 30:1) or she will herself not be. ('or I will die!')
Zornberg has this to say about Rachel:
(303) "Jacob responds with a strange anger to her plea..... The background is the two names that were given to Eve, to signify her two roles: Eve [hava - "life giver"] signifies her sexual, procreative function, while isha - "woman" - signifies her intellectual, spiritual role, parallel to that of man. The first role is instrumental, which subordinates her to the procreation of life; the second is autonomous. A woman who cannot bear children still has what the commentator calls her greatest purpose in living - her moral and spiritual role, equivalent to a man's."
Now Rachel is dead, having died after Benjamin's birth, and died along the road (in "no-place"), Joseph is no more, and Benjamin is under threat...
there is more to think about in political and spiritual terms from Zornberg, as we continue this journey through Lent.
(305) 'In mystical sources, Rachel becomes a code word for Knesset Yisrael, the principle of cohesion in a dispersed people. As her children scatter, are broken up, the magnetic force of Rachel's desire, of her battle against ayin [nothingness], manifests itself, and generates the dialectical movement of "return to their borders." Rachel becomes a word for imagination and desire, for the essential unity of a diffused Israel.'