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Monday, November 23, 2009

Vayeitzei, Breishis 30:15. How could Leah say הַמְעַט קַחְתֵּךְ אֶת אִישִׁי, “Isn't it enough that you took away my husband"?

Since this Parsha has a great deal to say about naming babies, here is a link to posts on other parshios that discuss Jewish and Secular names, and the general definition of a name and another that discusses who has the right to name a baby.


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30:15. How could Leah say הַמְעַט קַחְתֵּךְ אֶת אִישִׁי? It seems like a caricature of ingratitude for Leah to resentfully say that Rachel had taken away her husband, when in fact it was Leah that took away Rachel's husband, and even that was done with Rachel's help. Even assuming that the switch of Leah for Rachel was done unilaterally by Lavan, and Leah had no choice in the matter, but the fact remains that Rachel voluntarily gave Leah the simanim at the chasuna to prevent Leah’s embarrassment, and if not for that act of kindness, Yaakov would have realized he was being defrauded, he would have kicked Leah out of the tent in middle of the night, and she never would have married to him.


1. Someone answered that the Gemarah (Reb Chiya) in Kesuvos 59b says, women live for two things; their spousal relationship and their maternal relationship. (This is an excellent pshat in the Gemara, but it's not pashut pshat.) Leah said, our husband Yaakov’s personal relationship is already exclusively yours. I am left only with the relationship I have with my children. Now, you want to insinuate yourself into my relationship with my firstborn son Reuven? In other words, Leah was not saying that Rochel had already done anything treacherous by taking her husband. She knew that Rachel had gotten her married to Yaakov in the first place. She was just saying that since her husband didn’t love her (since he loved Rachel), she had only one source of emotional satisfaction in life, and that was her special relationship with her children. If Rachel were to interfere with that, Leah would have nothing left.

2. Rabbeinu Bachaya– Rachel was the Rambam's Baalas Chessed. The Rambam says a baal chesed should give tzdaka so that the recipient doesn’t realize that the other person gave him anything. So when she gave the simanim to Leah, she didn’t say “I am sacrificing my happiness to prevent your disgrace.” Instead, she made up a story that made Leah think that by taking Rochel’s place at the wedding, she was doing Rachel a favor. Maybe Rachel told her she was afraid of Yaakov, maybe she told her she didn’t like him. In any case, Leah was convinced that she was the baalas chessed who had done a favor for Rachel, and that Rachel later cheated her out of her husband by taking his love from her.

3. Reb Yerucham says that once Leah and Yaakov were married, nothing that brought them to that position mattered: it was bashert, and Leah was his intended wife. The factors that implemented that result were completely fungible, and if Rochel hadn’t given the simanim, something else would have happened to ensure Leah’s marriage to Yaakov. (This is a classic strategy, which I have seen in countless meshulachim, of avoiding hakoras tov, along with “you were just doing your mitzvah." I don’t know if Reb Yerucham meant it to illustrate bitachon in hashgacha pratis in marriage, or he really meant that you don’t have to appreciate a gomel chesed because the result was bashert anyway. I hope not. But it sounds like a good excuse not to come up with shadchonus money after the couple gets engaged.)

4. A commenter (The Great Unknown) sent in the following. I hesitated to post it, but, as he said, it's not up to me to censor the words of the Litvishe gedolim

The Maharil Bloch said: " appreciating a favor does not include repaying it in such a way as to nullify the original favor." (clumsy translation of the Yiddish) This was in the context of his firing Reb Leib Chasman immediately after Rav Bloch took over the yeshiva on Reb Leib's recommendation.

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4 comments:

great unknown said...

The Maharil Bloch said: " appreciating a favor does not include repaying it in such a way as to nullify the original favor." (clumsy translation of the Yiddish) This was in the context of his firing Reb Leib Chasman immediately after Rav Bloch took over the yeshiva on Reb Leib's recommendation.

Barzilai said...

Yet another raya to the Mahari Veil about daas baal habayis. I would have thought that the chiyuv hakaras hatov would be to try to repay the favor by outdoing it. Anyway, I have to think about putting your comment into the blog. It smacks a little too much of Ayn Rand, lehavdil.

great unknown said...

Actually, with proper massaging, a lot of Ayn Rand, lehavdil, fits into chazal. See R' Akiva's psak regarding the kiton shel mayim.
Chochma bagoyim and all that...

BTW, if a gadol says something, and indeed, acts on it [ma'aseh rav], it would be somewhat unfitting [read: arrogant] to censor it in the name of PC. If you want to go down that path, start a Judaica publishing company.

Of course, you may simply deny the veracity of my comment. However, I suspect that you have many resources for verifying it. PC is certainly not more of a machria than rov - although in today's "orthodox" Judaism, it seems to be more powerful than bo beraglav. Or, more conscisely, the "orthodox" has become more important than the Judaism.

So, we have an efshar levarer situation in kavod hatorah. Your call.

In any case, you might try learning the Shiurei Da'as. If nothing else, it would open your eyes to a major branch of mussar.
[And if you ever get around to studying the Kelmer derech, be prepared for a significant reorganization of your Slobodker perspectives. Note that Reb Chatzkel and Reb Eliya were very mild exemplars of that derech.]

Don't bother waiting for the Artscroll translation of the Shiurei Da'as: it ain't happening.

Barzilai said...

Done.