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Maor vaShemesh: Vayeitzei: Hidden & Revealed

“Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of figure and beautiful of appearance (Genesis 29:17).” Targum Onkelos renders this verse as, “Leah’s eyes were lovely, ya’ayan, and Rachel was beautiful of form and of lovely appearance.”


It seems to me that this is all a hint, for it is known from the holy books that Rachel is called “the world that is revealed,” while Leah is called “the world that is concealed.” Now, to understand this matter we must appreciate what these terms mean.

Submission, Avdut, involves at first, acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, to know that the Creator is Master and Ruler, and that His Kingship extends to all things. This is called “that which is revealed,” since it is apparent and well known to all that the universe cannot exist without a Ruler.

After a person truly accepts the yoke of His Kingdom upon himself, and wishes to serve Him in all sorts of ways as a slave does his master, as befits the Glorious King, God then brings the servant close to Him and allows him to enter the Innermost Palace of Palaces. There the servant may better understand the greatness of God so that a spirit of shame and great submission falls upon him, and his heart is broken.

From the worship with which he began, that is, the acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, he comes to true submission and complete repentance, with a broken heart, and that is called “the world that is concealed.” This is because this stage of worship is essentially one which involves the heart and mind, and is totally hidden from the eyes of all.

Kavanot for ShemahWe may say that this is what the following verses hint at. “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter, Rachel,” for the essential unification is accomplished by a person’s acceptance on himself of the yoke of His Kingdom in the reading of the Shema morning and evening, with the unification implicit in Shema, which contains 25 letters in the morning, along with the 25 letters in the evening, making a total of 50, in order to tie it to “the world that is concealed,” which is hinted at by the nuun of ya’ayan (Targum’s word for Leah). The worshiper must also recites 7 blessings; two before the Shema and one after it during the morning prayer, and two before and two after during the evening prayer, and that is what Jacob hinted at when he offered to serve Laban for 7 years for Rachel, his younger daughter, thus accepting upon himself the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom symbolized by Rachel. Through this acceptance comes the clarity of understanding of “the world that is concealed,” which is symbolized by Leah.

Kavanot for ShemahWhen Jacob asks Laban, “why have you cheated me (Genesis 29:25),” he means to say, “Why have you raised me greatly to the world which is hidden from this one, by giving the layout instead of Rachel? Laban then answers him, “Fulfill the week of this one, and we will give you this one also by the work which are due for another seven years.” The meaning of this is that you must struggle with great effort in order to rectify the seven Gates of the soul, and then you will attain the upper worlds, and you will have the strength and understanding to unify the upper and lower worlds, as we may well understand. (Maor vaShemesh, Vayeitzei)

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