Parsha Question

In today’s Torah reading we read “and it was in the morning, and behold it was Leah”. Jacob had been tricked and had married Leah instead of Rachel, and apparently didn’t realize it until the morning! How on earth is this possible?

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11 responses to “Parsha Question

  1. Lady Lock and Load

    Physically they were very similar, just their eyes were different. It was dark and he was not able to tell it was Leah till the morning.

  2. hope this helps, from a lurker…
    Eicha Rabbah intro 24
    At that moment, our mother Rachel broke forth into speech before the Holy One, blessed be He, and said, “Sovereign of the Universe, it is revealed before You that Your servant Jacob loved me exceedingly and toiled for my father on my behalf seven years. When those seven years were completed and the time arrived for my marriage with my husband, it came to my attention that my father was conspiring to switch my sister for me. It was very hard for me, because the plot was known to me and I disclosed it to my husband; and I gave him a sign whereby he could distinguish between me and my sister, so that my father should not be able to make the substitution. After that I relented, suppressed my desire, and had pity upon my sister that she should not be exposed to shame. In the evening they substituted my sister for me with my husband, and I delivered over to my sister all the signs which I had arranged with my husband so that he should think that she was Rachel. More than that — I went beneath the bed upon which he lay with my sister; and when he spoke to her she remained silent and I made all the replies in order that he should not recognize my sister’s voice. I was kind to her, was not jealous of her, and did not expose her to shame. And if I, a creature of flesh and blood, formed of dust and ashes, was not envious of my rival and did not expose her to shame and contempt, why should You, a King Who lives eternally and are merciful, be jealous of idolatry in which there is no reality, and exile my children and let them be slain by the sword, and their enemies have done with them as they wished!” At that God’s mercy is touched and He responds:”For you Rachel I will return Israel to their place.”

    • The whole being-under-the-bed thing just sounds too gross to contemplate. Can you imagine?

      • i find that hard to believe – Yaakov wasn’t stupid, he would realize the voice wasnt coming from Leah!!

        • Yaakov was a tzaddik and even though he might have realized after the wedding, but before consummation, he didn’t want to embarrass Leah, so he went through with it.

          Or maybe he was a little drunk and horny? 🙂

          Remember, our Avot were also human!

  3. It seems quite possible. Similarities between sisters. An opaque veil. Problems with lighting pre-electricity. Also there is the simple fact that according to most halachic authorities the mitzvah should be performed in complete darkness. If you cannot see how is one to know?

  4. Maybe she was completely covered, including a veil, for the duration of the wedding. And after the wedding, when it was dark, they retired to their tent, consummated the marriage, and he only saw her face upon daybreak. Now we have the badeken ceremony in which the Chatan (groom) sees the Kallahs (brides) face and then places the veil.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badeken

  5. See the Maharal in Gur Arye who asks and answers this question. Aside from the Maharal’s answer (which I’m not going to give away) there are sources which say that Rachel and Leah were twins and IIRC the Ramban writes that their voices were similar, so it would not have been so easy to tell them apart.

  6. All i can find is that Leah impersonated Rachel all night long…and that just as Yaakov tricked his father, so he too he “deserved” getting tricked in this situation. Maybe there is some connection with the speech…Isaac noticed something was “up” when Yaakov said something about G-d, but his arms were “hairy” so Isaac gave the blessing. Maybe Yaakov tried to ensure not to get tricked by using secret messages, but Hashem made it so that he would still be tricked.

  7. Picture it. A Satmar wedding. The bride and groom meet once before they get engaged and the next time they see each otehr is under the chuppah. I suspect that Yaakov did not “date” Rachel. He probably did not see her at all during the seven years. He probably did not see Leah either. When they got married they barely knew each other. It was dark, he was tired. He took his bride to the tent, consummated and fell asleep. The next morning he wakes up and begins to realize that the girl lying next to him is not as beautiful as he thought. Then he realizes.. it’s her sister. I imagine something like that could happen today in the Chassidic circles (if it were not for the kesubah, perhaps it would).

  8. david, I really doubt heYaakov studiously avoided Rachel for 7 years. According to some views he was actually waiting for her to grow up (she was only 5 when he first met her according that view). Clearly Yaakov did know the difference between Leah and Rachel but could not tell when she had her face veiled or when they were without light that night. BTW this is a reason why the groom does the badeken — to make sure he is getting the bride he intends to get. There are other reasons, as well. See http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-18522-NY-Jewish-Bridal-Examiner~y2009m10d22-Aspects-of-the-Jewish-wedding–the-bedeken

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