The Brisker Rav, zl, observes that Rachel Imeinu’s fear was not of dying, but rather, her anxiety resulted from her agonizing over losing a shevet, tribe, in Klal Yisrael. Thus, when the midwife told her, “Have no fear, this child will carry on your legacy as one of the Shivtei Kah, tribes of Hashem, Rachel calmed down and was prepared to confront her mortality.
The Brisker Rav expressed a similar idea following the European Holocaust. He related to Horav Eliezer Palchinksy, zl, that not a day passes that he is masiach daas, diverts his attention, from thinking about his family members who did not survive the calamity. Rav Palchinsky said that this was a tzaras ha’rabim, an anguish that affected the collective Jewish people. The Rav countered, “True, but never for a moment do I divert my attention from them.”
He added that Yaakov Avinu mourned over Yosef for twenty-two years. Certainly, he had never been masiach daas and ceased to mourn. Otherwise, the Shechinah, Divine Presence, would have returned to him. As soon as this would occur, the Patriarch would have known that Yosef, was, in fact, alive. (The Shechinah does not rest upon one who is depressed.) Apparently, Yaakov never stopped thinking of Yosef.
Rav Palchinsky asked, “But Yaakov mourned over the loss of a shevet; thus, he was inconsolable, while the Rav’s pain is personal.” (He implied that personal pain should be consolable.) The Brisker Rav replied, “Every one of my sons is like a shevet to me, because each one has the potential to raise up a generation of ovdei Hashem, who will serve Hashem.” What we should derive from this comment is the Torah approach to raising our children. Each one represents awesome potential. Each of them represents the repository of our legacy and the future of our people.