In Bereshit 31:35 we learn that Rachel was able to hide the Teraphim under her saddle by telling her father Lavan that "The way of women is upon me", presumably a euphemism for menstruation.

Just a few chapters later, though, while still travelling from Paddan-aram to Eprath, (Bereshit 35:16) we have her giving birth to Benjamin.

Since she would presumably have been well advanced in her pregnancy at the time the incident at Galeed occurred, and Lavan was a wily trickster, this successful deceit seems problematic.

Are there any traditional sources that discuss how Rachel Imeinu was able to deceive her father?

  • 2
    Ramban seems to ask this question but his answer doesn't address it at all.
    – user9643
    Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 20:04
  • Could she have been in labor or be having pre labor cramps or sciatica? Commented Mar 12 at 11:55

2 Answers 2


The Midrash (Megillah 17a) says Yaakov spent 2 years tarrying on his way back from Lavan (18 months in Sukkot and 6 months in Beit-El). So there's no way Rachel was already pregnant when she saw her father.

Even from the verses, what you describe as "just a few chapters later" doesn't seem to have been so quick. In 33:17-18 we have Yaakov arriving in two different places and setting up infrastructure in each. It seems a bit odd that Yaakov would build houses, set up farm sheds, and buy land if he was staying for just a few weeks.

  • One could argue setting up infrastructure for a sojourn of less than two years is also counterproductive, but, nonetheless, this midrash does indeed answer my question in full. Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 21:20

The Chanukas Hatorah addresses this question and explains how Rochel did not in fact lie. The gemorah (shabbos 82a) derives the halacha that avodah zara has the ability to transfer tumah from that of a niddah. The gemorah brings a passuk in Yeshaya that compares the two, thus giving grounds to learn that avoda zara is like a nidda in its ability to transmit tumah.

When Rovhel claimed she couldn’t get up because “derech nashim li” she was in fact alluding to the truth. Although Lavan understood it that she was simply a nidda, Rochel was referring to the teraphim that she possessed which can be metameh just like a niddah.

  • The question is still how can Lavan have understood it this way if she was pregnant? Unless he didn't know biology
    – Heshy
    Commented Mar 12 at 11:23
  • The chanukas hatorah is assuming she is not pregnant but still lied as she wasn't currently on her period
    – moshechaim
    Commented Mar 19 at 21:59

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