I learned from my Rabbi's books (R' Moshe Luriah's "בית גנזי על התורה" - Ariz"l's tradition) that:

  1. Yaakov and Esav paralleled Rachel and Leah and were "destined" one for another (see interpreters on "עיני לאה רכות").
  2. Esav went off the Derech and also started to marry other women
  3. When Yaakov stole Esav's blessings, he "stole" Esav's purpose of "fixing the physical world"
  4. Therefore he necessitated himself to marry Leah also instead of Esav
  5. When he arrived at Lavan's he insisted to marry Rachel first. Ariz"l interprets "למה רימיתני" as having a higher level of Avodas Hakodesh with Leah than with Rachel, hinting at the fact that Yaakov always intended to marry Leah.

As a couple of my last questions were based on this assumption, and many rejected this proposition, I would like to hear alternative approaches to Yaakov's intentions of marrying Lavan's daughter(s), especially that Yaakov had no intention of marrying Leah. Please provide sources.

  • Why not the pshat of the Chumash itself: Yaakov intended to marry Rochel, got tricked into marrying Leah, and in the end got his wish to marry Rochel. What's motivating your need for alternative approaches. – robev Nov 30 '20 at 20:59
  • @robev It appears that you didn't put much thought into your comment, because: 1. you disregard #1 - Yaakov was long aware of Leah and her destiny - what did he think to do about her? 2. He didn't divorce Leah and even produced 6 tribes. If he planned to produce all 12 tribes from Rachel that would undermine his project. 3. If you present Yaakov as a mindless wanderer you disregard numerous Midrashim about his spiritual level. – Al Berko Nov 30 '20 at 21:17
  • 1
    I didn't ignore #1. Yaakov was always meant to marry Rochel...what's the kasha. Why should he divorce Leah? That wouldn't be nice...and some hold you can't divorce without a good reason. I don't know what you mean having 12 tribes from Rochel would "undermine his project". None of the four wives of Yaakov knew who would produce how many shevatim. It could have been that Leah had all 12, or Rochel. What relevance is there to whom he married. Your premises are unsubstantiated... – robev Dec 1 '20 at 5:30
  • This is my understanding. Rachel was mainly interested in having his childen. Leah as a husband and therefore is buried with him. Rachel is the one who now cries for all his children. Yaakov wanted children not a wife. Leah thought that with children he would now love her. Hashem seemed to want that. See the baal haturim which I once mentioned on here what a good wife she was. – interested Dec 1 '20 at 16:43

The obvious reading of the chumash itself is that Yaakov had no interest whatsoever in marrying Lea , and that there was no known destiny to do so (neither his nor Esav's).

Please provide sources.

Any Torah commentary that doesn't mention the midrashim you seem to be taking as gospel. For example, Chizkuni.


Since I was one of the ones who asked you, I'm just giving my own impressions. I always imagine the Torah has different levels of interpretation. One of the levels is what we call the world of בחירה, where people make choices and the choices lead to different results. That's the world where most of us see ourselves.
There is another world, the world of ידיעה, Hashem's knowledge. This world is also 100% true at the same time, even though we don't well understand how that works. In that world, our choices and the results are all designed in advance, known to Hashem, built into his world. See the Rambam Hilchos Teshuva 5(5) for his discussion of these two pictures of the world.
It seems to me that a common difficulty people have in reading Midrashim is that Midrashim frequently live in the second world. This one is destined that __ should happen, this event implies __ in the future as a consequence...
But we are used to the world of Bechirah. And the Torah can and should be understood both ways; the people in the stories, their actions, and their attitudes, need to be consistent with their bechirah and free choices.
Anyhow, what you were describing from the Ari z"l is a Yediah type of picture, where there's an overall framework and the characters are filling their parts. It does not mean - to me - that Yaakov Avinu knew his part and understood the events that he was going to fulfill; if he knew them consciously that would actually interfere with his free choices, just as it would interfere with ours.
The Midrashim do frequently hint at people's connection to their destiny, presenting things as if they know about them. "Leah didn't want to have a seventh son because she knew there would be exactly twelve and that meant Rachel would get only one..." but I don't think that should be understood as being in the conscious forefront of their minds, for the reason I gave.
Yaakov may well have been destined to marry both, but the simple reading of the Torah seems to say clearly that he planned to marry only one. And that he was very distressed when he ended up married to Leah instead. His reaction to being fooled - and the Midrash adds that Leah reminded him that this was similar to what he had done to his own father - led directly to his (initial) difficulties in their relationship. All of that is the normal development of events in the world of Bechirah.
Update. I see that I should add: The obvious and correct answer to this question is, Midrash is one thing, and p'shat is another. It is easy to find mefarshim who learn the p'shat differently from the Ari z"l; as I said in the earlier post, I had never seen anything else!
What I was trying to provide here was an understanding of why the Midrash and p'shat can seem to be saying such different things, without that being a problem - unlike the position of so many people I've seen who struggle with them as "contradictions". And, to provide at least one filter that can help a person detect which type of peirush he is looking at.

  • Thank you. 1. I completely understand your speculations, however, I asked for sources. 2. Yaakov could easily divorce Leah and he didn't 3. Presenting forefathers as lacking [divine] understanding of the situation and lacking any planning is lame - there's no point in having such forefathers IMHO. Once we agreed on their status, we should at least try to interpret their actions as meaningful and not only random. – Al Berko Nov 30 '20 at 21:13
  • 1. I think everyone has been telling you that this is the simple reading of the Torah. That's a source! 2. Leah was carrying Yaakov's firstborn; divorce was no option. 3. Our forefathers were human beings; the Rambam says (same source and perek) that every single human being has the choice to be completely wicked. Every human being. Our forefathers are who they are because of the choices they made. Certainly not because someone slipped them the answer sheet. As the Rambam said, without free choice, neither we nor they would deserve any reward at all. – MichoelR Nov 30 '20 at 21:20

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