The Character in the Storm Part Two
We left off in “The Character in the Storm” with Rachel, having incorporated Jacob’s lessons (“Strength from Brokenness“) in her relationship with Leah, but wondering whether Leah understood Rachel’s message. I wonder whether Jacob was prepared for the storm that awaited him upon his return home. We must also see how Jacob incorporated the gains of this major event in his life into his final moments in this week’s portion, “Vayechi.”
“So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. ‘You must sleep with me,’ she said. ‘I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So he slept with her that night.
Isn’t it a little strange for Leah to phrase this night as, “hiring Jacob?”
“Now Dinah, the daughter of Leah, and she had borne to Jacob, went out to look over the daughters of the land (34:1).” “Because Dinah went out, in contradiction to the code of modesty befitting a daughter of Jacob, she is called the daughter of Leah because Leah, too, ‘went out.’ (Rashi) However, the Midrash on Proverbs praises Leah for going out, and says that it was her going out that caused her to merit to have descendants who would be kings and prophets (Chapter 31)!” Clearly, Leah’s going out is ambiguous. Why?
When Leah insists that she “hired” Jacob, she is informing him that she now feels equal to Rachel in her relationship with Jacob. Jacob hired himself out to marry Rachel. Leah was informing him that he was now hired out to marry her; in her mind, he would work for her just as he had worked for Rachel.
The first time that Jacob met Rachel, she too, was “going out.” “While he was still speaking with them, Rachel had arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherdess (29:9).” Everything that Leah was doing at this moment was a re-creation of the beginnings of the relationship between Jacob and Rachel.
Leah had clearly understood Rachel’s message of their joint eternal link to Jacob. The storm was over. Jacob did not walk into a fight, but into an entirely new stage of relationship with both, Rachel and Leah.
God considers Leah’s change as a form of prayer, and He grants her both Issachar and Zebulun who would eternally work together as partners, just as she was now prepared to work with Rachel.
Here is a woman going out to be with her husband and achieving greatness; as the Midrash says, kings and prophets would descend from her, just as another woman who “went out” to be with her husband and merited to say, “I have acquired a man with God (4:1),” I referred, of course, to Eve.
Remember, that when Eve decided to leave the Garden from which she had not been expelled just to be with her husband, she was willing to forfeit some of her elevated status to be with someone else. She certainly did the correct thing, but she paid a price, just as Leah will eventually pay a price for her “going out.”
“The Lord listened to Leah, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. Then Leah said, ‘The Lord has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband.’ So she named him Issachar.
Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. Then Leah said, ‘The Lord has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons.’ So she named him Zebulun.
Some time later she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah (Genesis 30:14-21).”
It is not only the sons who will work eternally as partners who result from this new relationship with Jacob, it is also Dinah, who will be at the center of another storm yet to a buffet Jacob and his family. Eve too, merited to “acquire a man with God,” but that man, Cain, would also be at the center of a storm.
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