This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Yissachar Frand,, Yonnatan Zweig Yossi Bilius and Dr. Abba Goldman
Some troubling questions on the parsha:
* In the morning, when Yaakov realized that the woman with him was Leah and not Rachel, he asked her, “Why have you tricked me into believing that you were Rachel?” Leah responded, “It is from you that I learned to do so. Did you not pose as your brother in order to receive the blessings?” How do Yaakov’s actions validate Leah’s?
* Rachel asks Leah to give her the Dudaim, a plant she received which is good for fertility, to which Leah retorts, “Is it not enough that you took my husband, now the gift that my son has given me? How can our matriarch Leah have the audacity to treat Rachel in this manner? If it wasn’t for Rachel, you, Leah, would not be married to Yaakov! She gave up the man she loved so you shouldn’t be embarrassed when caught!!
* Why does Yaakov have two names, Yaakov and Yisrael?
* Does one ever wonder, “Why are there four Matriarchs and only three Patriarchs?”
“If G-d will be with me, and He will guard me on this way that I am going; and He will give me bread to eat and clothes to wear, and I will return in peace to my father’s house, and Hashem will be a G-d to me – then this stone which I have set as a pillar shall become a house of G-d, and whatever You will give me, I shall surely tithe to You.” [Bereshis 28:20-22]
HAKADOSH BARUCHU, LET’S MAKE A DEAL!!
In effect, Yaakov makes a deal here with the Master of the Universe. This has been a time-honored tradition in the Jewish nation that people have in effect made deals with the Almighty and has triggered deals made between nobles and commoners, between businessmen.
Covenants in biblical times were often sealed by severing an animal, with the implication that the party who breaks the covenant will suffer a similar fate. In Hebrew, the verb meaning “to seal a covenant” translates literally as “to cut”. It is presumed by Jewish scholars that one of the reasons of the removal of the foreskin symbolically represents such a sealing of the covenant. After an agreement was made between G-d and the parties involved an animal was sacrificed and the two parties passed between the two halves. Perhaps, that is where the expression “cut the cards” originated. There you go: a biblical source for gambling.
In today’s society, on 47th street, the heart of the jewelry industry, one would consummate a deal on a hand shake and proclaim “MAZAL U’BRACHA”. Millions of dollars would be decided on a handshake. Interestingly, by saying “mazal u’bracha” the two parties are wishing each other hatzlacha and bracha, a well wished blessing. “From the deal we made together you should have success”.
Negotiations, agreements, let’s make a deal, handshake, marriage vows, pow wows, YOM KIPPUR promises (!!!) are ingrained in us since birth. Well, come to think of it, a few years after birth.
What is the difference between a terrorist and a two year old?
One can negotiate with the terrorist.
Making deals is a fundamental necessity in a functional society. An individual lives by them; countries honor them. Avraham and Avimelech make a treaty, a deal, after Yitzchak was born. As long as the descendants of Avimelech dwell on the land, no descendants of Avraham will wage war against them. This covenant was the reason later why Israel couldn’t capture Eastern part of Jerusalem. Avraham called the western part Yeru- to see G-d (holy place). Shalem, the eastern part was originally inherited by Noach’s son – Shem. The name “Shalem” comes from Shem. In Yehoshua’s time the Philishtim lived in the Shalem, the eastern part. Although Yehoshua, the leader of the Israelites, conquered the western part, in honor of the treaty the Israelites refrained from entering the Eastern part. It wasn’t until the last descendant of Avimelech died after the time of Yehoshua did the children of Judeah took it.
Please listen to this story about making good on a deal. I’m sure we all at one point made a deal with G-d. Rabbi Yissachar Frand heard in the name of Reb Chatzkel Besser. He personally heard this story from the Sadegerer Rebbe in Tel Aviv.
So much of life is being in the right place at the right time or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Sadegerer Rebbe had to be in Vienna on Shabbat Parshas Zachor, March 12, 1938. Interestingly, it was before Purim; he too had to deal with Amalek, the Jewish nation’s worst enemy. On Friday leading into Shabbat, the brown shirted Nazis marched into Vienna and ransacked Jewish homes. Subsequently, the Nazis invaded Vienna and that was the beginning of the end for Viennese Jewry.
Ironically, the famous Reichman Family was also in Vienna in 1938. That Shabbat was supposed to be the Bar Mitzvah of the eldest brother Edward Reichman. Unfortunately – or at least what they thought was unfortunate at the time – Mrs. Reichman’s father who still lived in Hungary (in Beled) had a stroke. They wanted very much that the grandfather should be at the Bar Mitzvah, but he was in no condition to travel to Vienna. So the week before the Bar Mitzvah the Reichman family with three of their children left Vienna to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah in Hungary. Samuel Reichman (the father) never stepped foot in Vienna again. That is how he was able to make it out of Europe.
The Sadegerer Rebbe had no such luck. The brown shirted Nazis zeroed in on every prominent Jew they could find. They grabbed Jews out of cabs, out of shuls, out of every place they could find them. They captured the Sadegerer Rebbe.
Years later, Rabbi Chatzkel Besser visited Tel Aviv. Early one morning, he was walking into the synagogue of the Sadegerer Rebbe. He noticed the Jewish street cleaner sweeping the street and the sidewalk on the block of the small shul. When the street cleaner reached the sidewalk immediately in front of the small shul, he stopped sweeping, walked past the shul, and then resumed his cleaning operation on the next block.
The tension between chareidi and chiloni – observant Jews and non-observant Jews was high, to say the least. Israelis have a tendency to do things in an extreme fashion. Religion and secularism is no exception. Rabbi Chatzkel Besser sensed anti-religious discrimination here and went over to the street cleaner and objected. “What’s wrong with this piece of sidewalk?” The street cleaner responded “HaRebbe lo noten reshut” (“The Rebbe does not allow me to sweep there.”) Reb Chatzkel Besser did not believe him and repeated his question to which the street cleaner repeated the same answer.
He thought the street cleaner was making up the story or just being lazy. He went into the Rebbe and asked him directly “Why won’t the street cleaner sweep in front of your shul?” The Rebbe put him off and did not give him a straight answer. This was Friday morning. He kept badgering the Rebbe Friday night, Shabbat morning, Shabbat afternoon: “What does it mean ‘HaRebbe lo noten reshut’?”
At the end of Shabbat, the Rebbe relented and explained the true story to his guest. When he was in Vienna that Shabbat in March 1938, the Nazis took him and dressed him up in one of the uniforms of the street cleaners of Vienna and they gave him a tiny little broom. They placed him by the steps of the Vienna Opera House and ordered him to clean every step.
Of course, this was a humiliating experience for the Rebbe. He was wearing one of those little street cleaner’s caps and essentially holding a tooth brush, cleaning the massive steps of the Vienna landmark. He related that at that moment he made a “deal” with G-d. He said, “Master of the Universe, if You help me escape from here, I promise You: I will sweep the streets of Eretz Yisrael.”
He made it out and he kept his promise. When he arrived in Eretz Yisrael and set up a shul there, he accepted upon himself that he would not let anyone sweep outside his Bet Haknesset – he would do it himself. Every day, he would sweep the sidewalk in front of his shul because of the deal he made with the Almighty, in the tradition of Yaakov Avinu.
THE DEAL AND ITS REPERCUSSIONS
What more of a deal can be said of the one made between two brothers, two twins, Yaakov and Eisav. Interestingly, it was made over a cup of soup. We begin [25, 29], last week’s parsha, the story of the twins where Eisav and Yaakov make a deal. Eisav comes from the field tired and hungry and asks “What do you have to eat”. Yaakov ends up with the first born title in return Eisav receives a bowl of soup.
This arrangement happened to be of great significance in our history for it put in place the future of Israel. The bracha was the catalyst in placing the Jewish people as ambassadors to the Almighty and putting us in the driver’s seat. We are in control of our own destiny. If we succeed in our ability to follow G-d, the world then will be our subornments. If, however, we do not follow the commandments then Eisav will prevail as world leader, dominate us and cause us great distress. Unfortunately, it was also the beginning of a deep seated hatred that Eisav and his descendants had towards our people. Let’s see what transpired because of the arrangement of the bracha and the soup.
“And it was in the morning, and behold, it was Leah!” (29:25)
According to the Talmud, Yaakov gave Rachel a secret message that would identify her on their marriage night. He did this in order to prevent Lavan from substituting Leah for Rachel. When Rachel realized that Leah would be publicly humiliated if she could not give Yaakov the message, Rachel revealed the secret words to her. In the morning, when Yaakov realized that the woman with him was Leah and not Rachel, he asked her, “Why have you tricked me into believing that you were Rachel?” Leah responded, “It is from you that I learned to do so. Did you not pose as your brother in order to receive the blessings?”
How do Yaakov’s actions validate Leah’s? Later in the Parsha, Reuvein, Leah’s eldest son, brings her Dudaim, a plant that, according to some commentaries increases the chances of conception. Rachel asks Leah to give her the Dudaim, to which Leah retorts, “Is it not enough that you took my husband? Now you want to take my son’s Dudaim?”
How could Leah make such a statement when the only reason that she was married to Yaakov was because of Rachel’s kindness toward her? Rachel gave the signs over to her sister for she should not be embarrassed in case she’s caught. She gave up the man she loved, at least for the immediate time being, and this is how she is treated? Where is the gratefulness towards Rachel?
To begin answering the aforementioned questions, we must first answer another question: Why are there four Matriarchs and only three Patriarchs? The answer is that there were supposed to be four Patriarchs. Eisav had the potential for becoming an Av. It is only due to his making the wrong choices that he lost this right. Yaakov filled the void created by Eisav and functioned as two Avot. He was therefore given a second name, Yisrael.
Rashi teaches that originally Leah was destined to marry Eisav, and Rachel, Yaakov.
When Leah saw that Yaakov took over the mantle of Eisav, Leah realized that Yaakov became her soul mate. This is what she alluded to when she told Yaakov, “It is from you I learned. Since you substituted for Eisav, taking his blessings and birthright, you have become my soul mate.” Her argument to Rachel was that it was not due to Rachel’s kindness that Leah married Yaakov; it was Leah’s right once he assumed Eisav’s role. Leah therefore felt justified in criticizing Rachel for having taken away her husband. It is interesting to note that the children who issued forth from Leah had many of Eisav’s characteristics and propensities. Dovid Hamelech, a descendant of Leah’s son Yehuda, is described as “Admoni”, – “of ruddy complexion”.
This is the same description the Torah gives for Eisav.
Shimon and Levi were involved in shedding blood, and were admonished by Yaakov for having used Eisav’s craft.
Leah praised Reuvein for perfecting character flaws which his uncle Eisav displayed.
A perusal of the verses with Rashi’s commentary shows many examples of this nature. The reason for this phenomenon is as follows: Leah was initially Eisav’s soul mate. Therefore she had many of the same propensities found within Eisav. Whereas Eisav was not able to channel these propensities correctly, it was left up to Leah’s offspring to do so. The Ramchal who says that Yaakov connects to Rachel and Yisrael to Leah.
When one says “mazal u’bracha” on a deal, it unites the parties. If I sell something to someone, I want him to like it for I want him to come back for more. It sprouts up a caring attitude for one’s fellow business associate. Making “deals” make one be more responsible; it matures a person; it changes them.
Now we see the repercussions of a deal, an agreement, made between the two brothers. It incredibly changed the entire landscape, the hierarchy of the Jewish people.
When Eisav made the deal furthermore, it also places us in a dangerous, if we don’t follow the Torah, predicament. The deep seeded hatred stems from that illustrious arrangement.