We read in our Parasha, of the duplicitous way in which Laban tricked Yaakov Avinu, into marrying Leah, thinking that she was Rachel, whom he had intended to wed.
The Torah relates Yaakov’s ‘discovery’ of the deception the following morning, in these terse words:(29:25)’And it was, in the morning that behold it was Leah!’.
Rashi comments:’In the morning, it was Leah’:’But at night, she was not Leah, because Yaakov had given signs to Rachel; but when she saw that they were bringing Leah (to Yaakov), she said:’Now my sister will be put to shame, so she gave those signs to Leah.’
The Midrash elucidates:’All night, Leah pretended to be Rachel; when morning came, and ‘behold it was Leah’, Yaakov said to her: ‘Daughter of the deceiver, why did you deceive me? She answered: And you, did you not deceive your father, when you told him that you were his first-born, Esav? And you ask why I deceived you?!’
Here we are compelled to ask:As the marriage was based on this ‘mistaken belief’, should it not be deemed invalid, as a מקח טעות: a non-binding agreement- especially as the ‘mistake’ was as to the identity of the woman?
Rav Yosef Chaim Kotler :’Although at first glance, it appears that the wedding to Leah was ‘mistaken’, and therefore not valid, this בודאי: assuredly cannot be said!
‘Rather, the parshanim have already written, that it was in Yaakov’s mind, that since he was dealing with the duplicitous Laban, there remained the possibility that Laban would ‘switch’ his daughters, and Yaakov took this into account- from the outset the kiddushin was on the basis of this possibility.’
Rav Chaim miChernowitz expands:’Our Sages teach that ‘even the animals of the righteous, Hashem distances them from ‘straying’, the righteous themselves, how much more so’.
‘Assuredly, Hashem put in the heart of Yaakov fear of the duplicity of Laban, that he might try to deceive him, and give him Leah instead of Rachel.
‘It follows that on that fateful night, Yaakov took into account the possibility that Laban would ‘switch’ daughters.
‘This is why the Torah uses the language:’And it was, In the morning, that behold it was Leah’, and not simply:’He saw it was Leah’, meaning: ‘behold: it was the Leah that had been on his mind, throughout the night’.
‘This is also ‘hinted’ at, in the words that (29:23):’And it was in the evening, that he (Laban) took Leah and brought her to him (to Yaakov): ויבא אליה, the letters of ‘אליה’, when re-arranged, spelling לאה-י, the letter י, in the hidden wisdom, alluding to מחשבה: thought, or intent.
‘This is also alluded to by the passuk starting with a seemingly disconnected ‘And’- to say that it was that which he had thought might occur, AND ‘ Behold it was the Leah that he had thought about’.”
A further question: If, as we have brought, our Sages teach that ‘Hashem protects the righteous so that they do not ‘stumble’’, how then, are are we to understand Yaakov being ‘led’ to marry Leah, ‘knowing’ that he was also destined to marry Rachel, which he himself felt was ‘tainted by improprity’?
‘We learn this from the Gemara (Pesachim 119:)’In the days to come, the cup of blessing will be given to Yaakov to recite the blessing..he will decline, saying:’I will not recite the blessing, as I married two sisters, in their lifetime, which the Torah will forbid.’
Answers Rav Yosef Salant:’This teaches us how far reaching is the saying of our Sages: ‘Everything Hashem does, is for the good’, even when it is through the agency of a wicked person, like Laban, and that the deed, in itself, is wrongful.
‘As a result of Rachel’s selflessness, and concern for the honor of her sister, Leah, as seen by her giving her sister the signs Yaakov had given her, Am Israel merited to be redeemed.
‘Our Sages teach, that after the Churban, when Am Israel was on its way into exile, Rachel implores Hashem to have mercy on them. Her plea: ‘Hashem, it is revealed before You, that Yaakov loved me dearly, and served my father seven years to gain my hand; and that, when the time came for our betrothal, my father conspired to ‘change’ my sister, Leah, for me. And this was very difficult for me, because his intention became known to me. And I therefore gave to Yaakov signs, so that he would not be deceived. Yet I then had pity on my sister, that she not be shamed, when she was ‘switched’ for me, that night. So m, gave her the signs, so that Yaakov should think that she was me, and I did this chessed for her.
‘And, if I, who am but flesh and blood, was not jealous of ‘my rival’, and did not let her be humiliated, You O Eternal and merciful King, why should you be ‘jealous’ of the idols that are not real, because of whom you exiled us and allowed so many of us to be killed?’.
‘Immediately Hashem’s mercy was aroused, and He said: For your sake, Rachel, I will return Israel to their land’.
And we, the beneficiaries of Rachel’s selflessness and chessed, can but proclaim the timeless words of David Hamelech:(Ps’ 40:8)’’Much have You done, O You Hashem, my G-d, Your wonders and Your thoughts are for us- none can compare to You-were I to relate or speak of them, they are too overwhelming to recount.’
לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.