Rachel chose April, the month of Passover, Lent, Easter, and weddings, in which to observe the Orthodox Jewish customs relating to women who were menstruating. Brave woman--not only to practice such restrictive behaviors during a highly-ceremonial month, but to let the world know it was her "time of the month" so publicly (and to write about it).
Why would she have to let the world know about it? Because part of the laws required women to separate from her husband in all physical ways, to refrain from sitting on or touching anything she did not want to render ceremonially unclean. So she camped out in a tent that week. Pretty obvious something was going on at the Evans house...
Two things stand out to me in this chapter:
First, a conversation between Rachel and her Jewish friend, Ahava, who was educating her on the finer points of Orthodox Judaism, made a lightbulb go off for me. I'd always wondered in a passive sort of way at how quickly a woman in the Bible would conceive when the writer was telling the story about a special child. Hannah, for instance, when God allowed Samuel to be conceived (1 Samuel 1). It always sounded like it just didn't take long from the first time the couple was allowed to once again be intimate til, "honey, I'm pregnant!" Was that just a storytelling method, a shortcut to keep the action moving? I always assumed so.
But here Rachel connects for the readers the timeframe of a woman's month: seven days on her period, another seven days to become "clean." What generally happens about 14 days into a woman's cycle? Ovulation. What generally happens between a husband and wife after 2 weeks of enforced abstinence? Sex. Put those together and often they equal a baby.
Maybe God took into account the rhythm of our bodies, and of our emotions, when he set up seemingly arbitrary laws for the Hebrew people. I do not believe we are called to obey those laws since Christ fulfilled them, but there seems to have been a lot inherently good about them.
Secondly, Rachel ends the chapter by revisiting how glad she was to be able to hug Dan, her husband, again after two weeks of absolutely no contact. "It was lonely and isolating," she says of those two weeks. Then she reminds the reader about the people whom Jesus touched in their uncleanness--the lepers (Mark 1), the woman with the issue of blood and the dead daughter of Jairus (Mark 5)--all of whom needed Him desperately.
"His first order of business was to touch the ones that we would not touch...to declare once and for all that purity is found not in the body, but in the heart."