This issue is sponsored
Vol. 22 No. 7
In honour of
R' Michoel Cohen shlit"a
Le'ah's Sheva B'rachos
(Adapted from the Ramban)
"And Ya'akov said to Lavan 'Bring me my wife for my days are filled, and I will come to her!' " (29:21).
"Complete the week of this one (Le'ah) and we will give you also the other one (Rachel) in return for the work that you will do for me for another seven years" (29:27).
Rashi interprets "for my days are filled" either with reference to the time-period that his mother had in mind when she sent him to Charan, or to the fact that he was already eighty-four years old and that it was high time that he married and reared the twelve tribes.
The Ramban queries Rashi from his interpretation of "the week of this one" (as we translated it), which he explains with reference to the seven years of work that he had worked for Le'ah and which had not yet terminated.
He therefore asks that, as it would seem according to Rashi, Ya'akov had completed the full seven years, why did Rashi not explain "for my days are filled" in connection with terms of the seven-year contract, which he had just fulfilled - as indeed both Targum Unklus and Targum Yonasan explain it?
And he supports this explanation in that, whereas Lavan would agree to fulfill his side of the bargain now that Ya'akov had fulfilled his, Ya'akov's mother (his aunt)'s plans or even Ya'akov's advanced age would hardly convince him to let Ya'akov marry his daughter before the time was up!
Interestingly, Unklus and Yonasan translate the latter Pasuk like Rashi and not like the Ramban, as one might have expected.
The Ramban also queries Rashi's explanation of "the week of this one" with reference to Sheva B'rachos. He cites the Yerushalmi, which attributes the institution of Sheva B'rachos to Moshe Rabeinu, in which case it would have post-dated Lavan by hundreds of years.
Perhaps, he suggests, it was an old custom that Moshe Rabeinu introduced into our ritual as law. Indeed, he quotes the Ramban, who cites this Pasuk as a source for the ruling that forbids mixing one Simchah with another. However, he adds, the Bavli cites a Pasuk in Melachim. Now had the Gemara interpreted the current Pasuk with regard to Sheva B'rachos, in the way that Rashi does, it would have cited a Pasuk in the Torah rather than one in Nevi'im.
And he therefore sticks to his initial interpretation of the latter Pasuk (that Ya'akov should conclude the seven years that he undertook), which, as he often tends to do, he explains in two ways: 1. Ya'akov specifically stated that he had worked the full seven years ("for my days are filled"), a fact that Lavan did not dispute at the time. Then, after cheating him once by giving him Le'ah instead of Rachel, he cheated him again -"Complete the seven years of this one", insinuating that Ya'akov had not completed the full seven-year period (in typical Lavan fashion [See later in the Parshah, 31:41]).
2. When Ya'akov said " … for my days are filled", he meant that he could give him Rachel, since he had arrived near the end of the seven years (the Ramban cites several examples to support this explanation). And when Lavan later said "Complete the seven years of this one", he was referring to the tail-end of the seven years that Ya'akov had not yet completed.
And this also explains why Ya'akov added the words "and I will come to her". What he meant was that he merely wanted to marry her - and that seeing as it was right near the end of the seven-year period, Lavan need not worry that Ya'akov would take Rachel and run away before fulfilling his obligations.
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(Adapted from the Ramban)
" … behold a ladder, whose top reached the Heaven, and behold angels of G-d were ascending and descending it" (28:12)
According to Rashi, the angels were the ones that G-d sent to protect Ya'akov, and the scenario is that of the angels of Eretz Yisrael taking over from the angels of Chutz la'Aretz.
The Ramban gives two different explanations.
Initially, he presents them as the angels that G-d uses to run the world. Hakadoesh-Baruch-Hu was in fact demonstrating to Ya'akov how the angels appear before the Heavenly Throne to report what is happening in the world below, before He issues them with instructions how to return and deal with the problems.
And He also showed Ya'akov that he was not under the jurisdiction of the angels, since He (G-d) stood on top of the ladder to watch over him and to guide him personally. That was because he was on a higher level than other Tzadikim, about whom the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (91:11) "For He will command His angels to guard you wherever you go".
In his second explanation, the Ramban defines the angels as those that supervise the nations, or to be more precise, the four angels that supervise the four nations that were destined to subjugate Yisrael - Bavel, Paras & Madai, Greece and Rome, to which we referred briefly in the first Parshah Pearl last week). In that case, He was informing Ya'akov how many years (via the rungs of the ladder) each that his descendants would subjugate Yisrael before He (who watched over Yisrael even as they were being subjugated) would remove them from power - Bavel, 70 years; Paras & Madai, 52 years, and Greece 180. As for Rome, he watched in horror, as the angel of his brother Eisav, continued to climb, until eventually, G-d promised him that he too, would fall.
Rachel the Shepherd
" … Rachel came with the sheep, because she (hi) was a shepherd" 29:9).
Commenting on the word "hi", the Ramban explains that Rachel was the sole shepherd to look after Lavan's flock, and that unlike Yisro's daughters, all of whom guarded their father's sheep together, Le'ah did not share this task with her sister. The reason for this was perhaps because she had tender eyes, and being outside in the sun for long periods would have damaged her eyesight.
Alternatively, he says, it was because, whereas Rachel was still very young (five years old, according to the author later in the Parshah), Le'ah was somewhat older, and Lavan would not allow her to remain alone in the fields. This contrasts with Yisro, who was not on the level of Avraham's family as regards Tz'niyus. Or perhaps it was because whereas Lavan was afraid that Le'ah might be molested, Yisro, who was the priest of Midyan, knew that his daughters were safe.
Furthermore, the author adds, it was also due to Rachel's young age that Ya'akov saw fit to kiss her, or as the Ibn'Ezra explains, it was because 'neshikah' with a 'Lamed' ("vayishak … le") implies on the head or on the shoulder, which it seems, was common practice in those days between members of the family.
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