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When we list the Matriarchs in prayers (such as the Amidah in the version including the matriarchs, or in the traditional blessing for one's daughters on Friday night), we say them in the order: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Leah. Why is this? The patriarchs are generally listed in order of age, which seems like a natural order of precedence; and similarly, apart from Leah the matriarchs are listed in order of age.

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    +1 We have this order of the matriarchs already in the Talmud (eg Horayot 10b) and the patriarchs already in verses in the Bible (eg. Genesis 50:24) – Double AA Nov 27 '12 at 19:38
  • @DoubleAA isn't that the (or at least an) answer, then? – yoel Nov 27 '12 at 19:52
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    @yoel, partly, but it just moves the "why" point earlier -- why did they do it that way, if that's the pattern? – Monica Cellio Nov 27 '12 at 20:00
  • It rolls off the tongue more easily that way, since Sarah, Rivka, and Rahel, all have an R, while Leah does not. – mevaqesh Nov 8 '17 at 19:59
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Likutei Dinim Toras haKohanim Siman 75 says that since Rachel was the one Yaakov had in mind to marry first therefore Rachel is listed first.

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    What is the relation between intent to marry and listing that this should be relevant? – Double AA Apr 8 '14 at 17:44
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Rachel was certainly Yaakov's primary wife; the text indicates that his primary residence was with her and only changed once she passed away. She was the one he desired and labored for and set his focus upon. Although Leah bore him more children than any of the other women, it's clear that he loved Rachel more.

From a more kabbalistic perspective, Rachel represents the natural, revealed world, whereas Leah represents the hidden, deeper dimension of reality. We give precedence to the revealed before the hidden, generally speaking.

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