1

Leah switches with Rachel to marry Yaakov (parashat ויצא). Following this, Yaakov is surprised (to say the least!), Bereshit 29:25:

וַיְהִ֣י בַבֹּ֔קֶר וְהִנֵּה־הִ֖וא לֵאָ֑ה וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֶל־לָבָ֗ן מַה־זֹּאת֙ עָשִׂ֣יתָ לִּ֔י הֲלֹ֤א בְרָחֵל֙ עָבַ֣דְתִּי עִמָּ֔ךְ וְלָ֖מָּה רִמִּיתָֽנִי׃

When morning came, there was Leah! So he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I was in your service for Rachel! Why did you deceive me?”

On this pasuk Rashi says:

אֲבָל בַּלַּיְלָה לֹא הָיְתָה לֵאָה, לְפִי שֶׁמָּסַר יַעֲקֹב סִימָנִים לְרָחֵל, וּכְשֶׁרָאֲתָה רָחֵל שֶׁמַּכְנִיסִין לוֹ לֵאָה אָמְרָה: עַכְשָׁו תִּכָּלֵם אֲחוֹתִי, עָמְדָה וּמָסְרָה לָהּ אוֹתָן סִימָנִים

But at night it was not Leah (i. e. he failed to recognise that it was Leah) because Jacob had given Rachel certain secret signs by which they could at all times recognise one another, and when Rachel saw that they were about to bring Leah to him for the marriage ceremony, she thought, “My sister may now be put to shame”, and she therefore readily transmitted these signs to her (Megillah 13b)

However, Yaakov directs his anger at Lavan.

Although Rashi shows the 'good intentions' of Rachel, this suggests that Rachel and Leah had colluded against Yaakov. On the face of it, two sisters colluding to misdirect someone to marry the unintended woman, is simply wrong:

  1. Do any commentaries discuss why Yaakov was not angered at Leah and Rachel?
  2. Do any commentaries imply that what Leah and Rachel did was (morally) wrong?
5
  • 2
    I wouldn't say they were "colluding" - Their evil father forced Leah to be the one to get married and Rachel who had no power over her father didn't want her sister to be embarrassed and therefore showed her the signs.
    – Dov
    Nov 11, 2021 at 14:11
  • 1
    There are commentators who maintain that Leah had no idea at all that she was taking Rachel's place
    – Joel K
    Nov 11, 2021 at 14:28
  • @Dov I cited the Rashi to show that Rachel and Leah made the decision possibly independent of their father Lavan
    – bondonk
    Nov 11, 2021 at 19:51
  • Yes but that does not negate the fact that they were powerless to prevent their father's plan of swapping Rachel for Leah.
    – Dov
    Nov 11, 2021 at 19:56
  • It still seems that, Rachel calculated, that not shaming Leah was more important than upholding the honour (?) of Yaakov. It was a moral decision and I'm wondering whether she/they was/were wrong. Unless the whole thing was under duress and they are not accountable. But the Rashi suggests that it was a choice that they made, regardless of Lavan.
    – bondonk
    Nov 11, 2021 at 20:01

2 Answers 2

2

As far as your first queston:

Do any commentaries discuss why Yaakov was not angered at Leah and Rachel?

The Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh notes two worthwhile points:

It is also possible that Jacob referred to the humiliation experienced by Leah who now found herself Jacob's wife and had to expect that her husband would hate her instead of love her. Jacob's question "why did you deceive me?" indicates that he had immediately decided not to divorce Leah but to keep her as a wife.

He also displayed wisdom by the choice of his words, realising that what had been done could not be undone. He realised that it would not have been moral to reverse what had been done but resolved to marry Rachel also. In this manner he hoped that Laban would not now demand an even higher price for Rachel by suggesting that they make a new agreement. He complained to Laban that the latter had seen fit to achieve something by deception which he could have achieved amicably (i.e. that Jacob marry Leah also). (Sefaria translation my emphasis)

So from this we see that his anger was only at Lavan. Lavan was a trickster who swindled Yaakov out of what was rightly his. He acknowledged that Leah had no power against her father and was equally sensitive to her plight.

2

The Midrash Rabba (Parsha 70)discusses a conversation Yackov has with Leah about her not revealing who she was beforehand, and her response.

וְכָל הַהוּא לֵילְיָא הֲוָה צָוַח לָהּ רָחֵל, וְהִיא עָנְיָא לֵיהּ. בְּצַפְרָא וְהִנֵּה הִיא לֵאָה, אָמַר לָהּ מָה רַמָּיְתָא בַּת רַמָּאָה, לָאו בְּלֵילְיָא הֲוָה קָרֵינָא רָחֵל וְאַתְּ עֲנֵית לִי. אָמְרָה לֵיהּ אִית סַפָּר דְּלֵית לֵיהּ תַּלְמִידִים, לֹא כָךְ הָיָה צוֹוֵחַ לָךְ אֲבוּךְ, עֵשָׂו, וְאַתְּ עָנֵי לֵיהּ. וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל לָבָן מַה זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לִי וגו

In essence, she said just like he tricked his father because his mother told him to, she tricked him because her father told her to.

There are many commentaries and explanations on deeper levels, but on the surface, this was the discussion.

1
  • The Midrash is a good quote (see also Tanchuma Vayeitze 11). But you are adding the part about "his mother told him to". I'm not sure that's valid if his mother was right and her mother was wrong. I think you need to add that Yaakov was doing something that badly needed doing, and Leah felt that she was too: It was crucial that she not be married off to Esav. She is learning something from Yaakov, right or wrong: If it's important enough you can use deception to make it happen.
    – MichoelR
    Nov 17, 2021 at 14:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .