A MIghty Wrestling

What does "wrestling of G-d" mean?

HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l

Judaism HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
INN:Toras Avigdor

30:8. And Rachel said: A mighty wrestling (or a wrestling of G-d) have I wrestled with my sister and I have even prevailed..

This was not a contest whether or not this son should be born, for Leah would not wish to prevent another son to Jacob, and another tribe to Israel. But the contest was to gain the right to that son.

Leah would have preferred that this son be born of her or of her handmaiden, so that the merit of the additional son be hers.

The wrestling (whether merely "a mighty wrestling" or "a wrestling of G-d") was a mighty effort in prayer to G-d.

The Mothers, like the Fathers, knew the great value of the function of prayer (see 29:31, 32, 33, 34; 30-20), and they spoke always to Hashem (and always of Hashem — ibid.). In the matter of bearing children, which they understood was their greatest achievement for the service of Hashem in all successive generations, they wrestled in prayer and in fervent entreaty with exceptional effort. "And I have prevailed" that this son should be born of my handmaiden.

Thus Rachel thanks Hashem, and the name is intended as an expression of gratitude that Hashem granted her prayer: Naftali.

(Naftulei is derived from Pathil ("bound around" or "twisted around" —- Bamidbar 19:15). Rachel sought to be bound  with Hashem by means of being bound to Jacob. The contest between the sisters for Jacob’s favor was really a rivalry in coming closer to Hashem: "Wrestlings for G-d.")

The family of the Fathers was keenly aware of the supreme function of creating a people that would serve Hashem (More Nevuchim 3:51). Therefore every additional son was a greater share in the future nation, and it is quite understandable that Rachel and Leah were supremely desirous of outdoing each other in acquiring a greater share in the future of Israel.

As much as a woman desires a child, Rachel and Leah desired each child tens of thousands of times more intensely, because each son represented a future tribe of tens of thousands.

To us it is well-nigh impossible to imagine the fever of righteous envy which burned in the hearts of "Rachel and Leah, the two that built the house of Israel" (Ruth 4:11). These were "the mighty wrestlings" or "the wrestlings for G-d" that these great sisters wrestled with each other in their prayers.

(From The Beginning)