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I know it seems obvious that Leah was wearing some sort of facial covering during the wedding which is what allowed Yaakov to mistake her for Rochel, however I can't find any source in chazal or the rishonim which says so explicitly. For example Rashi on Bereshis 29:25, also in Megilah 13b discusses the giving over of signs, but doesn't mention a veil.

What is the source that Leah wore a veil at her wedding to Yaakov?

  • Perhaps as you say, that Yaakov did not see that it was Leah until after they woke up in the morning. – sabbahillel Nov 21 '14 at 18:24
  • @sabbahillel but I can concoct any number of scenarios to explain that. Who says their weddings worked like ours? Perhaps Yaakov did not see her at all until then? – user6641 Nov 21 '14 at 18:29
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    @sabbahillel But Kiddushin may have been via Shaliach. Or it was night time. Or she wore lots of makeup. Or.. – Double AA Nov 21 '14 at 18:33
  • The Tol'dos Yitzchak (by Rav Yitzchak Karo, uncle of the Bes Yosef) may be implying the contrary (viz, that she didn't wear a veil). Specifically, he writes that, unlike Lot who fed his guests matza, Lavan made the wedding feast only-wine-based (29:22), which was in order to get Yaakov so drunk he'd not know whom he was marrying. – msh210 Nov 23 '14 at 3:51
  • Not just a veil is claimed: according to torahtots.com/parsha/breishis/vayet2.htm, tziporahheller.com/letter-on-rachel-imeinu, and other online sources, it was an especially thick veil. – msh210 Nov 23 '14 at 6:24
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The Medrash Raba פרשה ע uses the phrase:

בְּרַמְשָׁא אֲתוֹן מַעֲלָתָא וַחֲפוֹן בּוֹצִינַיָא.‏

All the Meforshim translate that as "at night the lads came and turned off [lit. covered] the lights."

The exact spelling of מַעֲלָתָא is a matter of dispute. See the various Meforshim on the Medrash Raba. E.g. The Yalkut Shimoni (כ"ט כ"ב-כ"ה) says מטליתא which sounds like a cloth.

Conceivable one could translate it as "at night they brought a veil and [also] covered the lights."

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    BTW: I asked various Darshanim, and none of them had ever heard that Leah wore a veil. I just emailed Rebbetzin Heller for her source. – Danny Schoemann Dec 1 '14 at 14:45
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Professor James A. Diamond of the University of Waterloo provides several academic sources in his paper on how Lavan tricked Yaakov (his answer is basically veil + inebriation). These sources in turn claim that veiling the bride was a common practice in that place at that time, none cite the works of Chazal or the Rishonim in support for this contention.

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