Marriage: A Bond of True Love
Taste of Parasha
“And G-d saw that Leah was hated and He opened her womb.” (Genesis 29:31) Then, after Leah gives birth to Reuvain, Leah says, “Now my Husband will love me.” The first question we must ask ourselves is: Did Yaakov really hate Leah? What about the Mitzvah of love your neighbor as thyself, even if he was forced into this situation? Leah is no worse than any other Jew whom he is commanded to love. Furthermore, if he really did hate Leah, how would the birth of a child change their relationship to one of love? There is another verse in this week’s Parasha which presents a similar dilemma. In Chapter 30, Verse 1, it says, “And Rachel saw that she did not give birth to Yaakov… and she said to Yaakov, ‘give me children otherwise I will die’”. Was she merely using hyperbole, why would not having children be the cause of her death? Rabbi Aharon Taub, in his work “Yismach Dodim” brings a beautiful answer to these questions from a work entitled “Chamudei Tzvi.” In order to appreciate his answer we first need to get a Taste of Talmud and a Taste of Halacha.
Taste of Talmud and Halacha
The Torah condones hatred for one reason, as King David wrote, “Those who love G-d should hate evil.” Yaakov found himself in a questionable marriage situation. On the one hand he had already created a Kiddushin bond with Rochel the moment he had completed the seven years of labor for her. His union with Leah was therefore prohibited according to the strict letter of the law. On the other hand, according to Rabbi Chanina in Tractate Sanhedrin (57b) his union with Leah was binding whereas the monetary acquisition he created for Rochel was not binding, as they were not, as of yet, Jewish. The Talmud, in Tractate Avoda Zara says, “In reality, when a man transgresses the word of G-d and plants legumes and grain together they should not grow. Nor for that matter should a child be born from a union which G-d prohibited. However, G-d does not intervene. He allows the world to function according to the way he designed it. He ‘so to speak’ says, “I will not change My world just because of this fool.” If however a man and woman do not have the ability to give birth, G-d will not make a miracle take place for them in their forbidden union. Our sages teach us that G-d desires the prayers of the righteous; therefore he made all of the Matriarchs barren so that these great men and women would pray to Him and develop a close relationship with Him. Leah and Rachel were both unable to bear children naturally. This was known to Yaakov. By making a miracle for Leah, G-d gave His approval as it were to Yaakov’s union with Leah. This is why Leah understood that now the only impediment to true love had been removed. This was true for Rochel as well. If she did not give birth, she was afraid it would be a sign that she was the one living with Yaakov in sin, thereby being liable to death. Ultimately, G-d showed His satisfaction with both of these unions by blessing them with the holy tribes ofIsrael. This was a union born from true love, a purposeful love, an eternal love.