Friday, December 01, 2006

Vayetzei by Reb Jay

After arriving at the house of Lavan, Yaakov Avinu arranges with Lavan that he will marry Rochel.

Of course, Lavan replaces Leah with Rochel, and the deception is able to succeed because Rochel tells Leah the simanim that she had pre-arranged with Yaakov.

When Yaakov realized the morning after the chasuna that it was in fact Leah that he had married, Yaakov was upset. The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah) relates that he confronted Leah and asked her how she could have tricked him. Leah replied that who was Yaakov to say anything, as Yaakov tricked his own father and brother in order to receive the brocha.

How are we to understand the answer of Leah? Was she trying to one up Yaakov, by telling him that since he had deceived, that she was allowed to deceive as well? Furthermore, the Gemara in Kesubos tells us that if a person marries someone under false pretenses, the Kiddushin is not tofes (see Tosfos “Chazaka” Kesubos 10a), and is in fact a mekach ta’us (an acquisition made under false pretences that is invalid). How could Leah and Rochel have been involved in such a michshol?

Let us try to understand the answer that Leah gave Yaakov when asked how she could have played a role in the deception. Leah was not saying that since you deceived, I deceived as well. Leah was in fact telling Yaakov that the moment he took the brochos from Eisav, everything changed. Why did Yaakov take the brochos from Eisav? The Shelah Hakadosh writes that ideally, there were meant to be four avos: Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov and Eisav. Eisav would have been a melech of gashmiyus, and Yaakov a melech of ruchniyus. While Yaakov realized his potential, Eisav did not. Therefore, Yaakov needed to usurp Eisav’s role. This was understood by Rivkah, and was the reason she told Yaakov to take the brochos. This also extended to their prospective wives. The zivug of Yaakov was Rochel and the zivug of Eisav was Leah. Once Eisav did not fulfill his role, the responsibility of marrying Leah fell to Yaakov.

That is what Leah meant by her reply to Yaakov. She was saying that once Yaakov deceived his father and took the brochos, he also accepted the responsibility to marry her. And knowing this to be true is what allowed Rochel and Leah to conspire that Yaakov marry Leah. And when Yaakov heard this from Leah, he did not opt out of the marriage as he had every right to (being that it was a mekach ta’us), but stayed with Leah.
Later on, when Yaakov escaped and Lavan caught up to him, Yaakov confronts Lavan with all the evil he has perpetuated upon Yaakov. But he never confronts him with the fact that he switched Leah and Rochel, because Yaakov knows that this particular act was Min Hashamayim, and for the good of Klal Yisroel.

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