Hashem gave Leah a child, Reuven, because she was hated and Leah believed that Yaakov would now love her. Beraishis Chap 29.

(31) And the Lord saw that Leah was hated, so He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.

(32) And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she named him Reuben, for she said, "Because the Lord has seen my affliction, for now my husband will love me."

But it seems that the birth of Reuven did not cause Yaakov to love her as it says

(33) And she conceived again and bore a son, and she said, "Since the Lord has heard that I am hated, He gave me this one too." So she named him Simeon.

Is it right to understand that Hashem “opened her womb” but knew love would not result from the birth of Reuven, whereas Leah did expect love as a result?

  • 1
    based on my own sefora... I think she was loved but felt hated as she was not the 'true love' as Rachel was. Nov 22, 2017 at 10:45
  • Who says that “heard that I am hated” occurred after Reuben was born?
    – Alex
    Dec 5, 2019 at 1:44

1 Answer 1


First of all, Rav Hirsch points out that the precise language involved Vayeitzei 29:31

וַיַּ֤רְא יְהֹוָה֙ כִּֽי־שְׂנוּאָ֣ה לֵאָ֔ה וַיִּפְתַּ֖ח אֶת־רַחְמָ֑הּ וְרָחֵ֖ל עֲקָרָֽה

actually means (in the idiom of the Torah) the less loved of the two. Had it actually meant hated it would have said לאה שנואה The example given is Deuteronomy 21:15

כִּי־תִֽהְיֶ֨יןָ לְאִ֜ישׁ שְׁתֵּ֣י נָשִׁ֗ים הָֽאַחַ֤ת אֲהוּבָה֙ וְהָֽאַחַ֣ת שְׂנוּאָ֔ה

Rav Hirsch also explains (32 - 35) that each of the names shows the progression of the relationship as each child was born. It is not a matter of expectation, but that Yaakov was a normal human being and did not change miraculously. Nor did Leah's perception of the family dynamics miraculously change as soon as each child was born. Each name was given to show what was going on in the family at that time.

Leah realized that this was something that had to be worked on and she recognized the progress that was being made. Note that she uses the future tense, יֶֽאֱהָבַ֥נִי. Perhaps the English idiom could be, will come to love me. That is, now the feelings of resesentment for the trick will indeed fade and a loving relationship will become established.

At first, כִּֽי־רָאָ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ בְּעָנְיִ֔י So that up to then Yaakov's preference for Rachel was visible. With the birth of Reuven that disappeared, but to Leah's ear, it could still be detected. Just in the tone of his voice to Rachel, Leah could feel that she still did not posess the full measure of her husband's love, so she called her second son Shimon.

With the birth of her third son, however, she felt the difference had quite disappeared, yea she felt she could now express with full confidence that now, the purest truest loving relationship between husband and wife was established, which is exactly the conception of לויה. For לוה, הלוה, is that attachment of two persons where each one feels themselves the לוה, the debtor of the other, feels that they owe their happiness and whole life to the other. It is accordingly highly significant that in Levi, it is not she, but he who expresses this in giving the baby its name.

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