And Rachel and Joseph Last

Leah must have been hurt, but her prayers are answered later.

HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l

Judaism מערת המכפלה
מערת המכפלה
INN:Toras Avigdor
At first sight this might seem a surprising disregard for the feelings of Leah.

Jacob organizes his people in specific order before the dreaded meeting with Esav.

Rachel and Joseph were placed last in order to allow them to escape if Esav should attack those that preceded them, and thus Leah was in a sense made the buffer to protect Rachel.

But we must understand that Jacob knew that he was a prophet, and therefore his love for Rachel was a prophetic foreknowledge that from her would come a son who would be of vast importance.

Because of this, Jacob considered Rachel and her son not only his own most precious possession, but also Hashem’s most precious possession. Even if all went lost, the son of Rachel must be rescued for the sake of the future holy nation.

Although Leah certainly was distressed by this, yet she well knew that Jacob was a prophet and that he was motivated solely by the desire to serve Hashem.

In this, Jacob openly demonstrated his especial preference for Rachel and also for her son Joseph. This certainly continued to distress Leah and it also was certainly a cause of animosity toward Joseph.

Leah’s prayers were not answered even after she bore four sons, for thereafter she said to Rachel: "Is it a small matter that you took away my husband?" (30:15).

It is true that her prayers caused Hashem to grant her more sons; but although this was a joy to her, yet she remained distressed at her inferior status with Jacob.

But even this distress came to an end. Although Leah did not desire her sister’s death, yet her distress was a contributing factor to the untimely passing of Rachel. Although Rachel’s early death was a necessary part of Hashem’s general plan, it was also intended as an answer to Leah’s distress.

Leah’s prayers that she be joined with her husband helped her even to be buried together with him in the Cave of Machpelah, whereas Rachel was buried alone.

Of course,even the lone grave of Rachel was intended as an especial part of Hashem’s plan, but that does not contradict the answer to Leah's prayers.