Halacha for Friday 11 Kislev 5781 November 27 2020

Parashat Vayetze - [Loving Me, Loving You! Two Types of Love]

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen Shlit”a, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv
(translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK)

We read in the Parasha Yaakov’s exit from Be’er Sheva to travel to Charan and his labour by Lavan for 20 years, 7 years for Leah, 7 for Rachel and 6 further years. During that time he also married Zilpa and Bilha and they bore 11 children.

We read that “Yaakov worked seven years for Rachel. But he loved her so much, it seemed like no more than a few days” (Bereishit 29:20).

It appears rather surprising, since ordinarily if a person loves, yearns and desires something, then the greater the yearning the greater the time seems to draw out, thereby making it less bearable, and a few moments seem like eternity.

We may illustrate this with an analogy. A chatan is scheduled to marry in a week and is very much looking forwards, his experience is certainly that the time is passing slowly. If so, why with Yaakov Avinu who loved Rachel so much, does it say, “it seemed like no more than a few days”, why did Yaakov experience that seven years seemed like a few days, on the contrary, the reality dictates the reverse. And it should have written, “they seemed like many years”, way more than just seven years?

In order to fathom this, we must introduce the following important profound idea.

There are two types of loving others. There is loving another “physically”. Here the objective of the lover is to advance his personal interests. He loves the other person, when in reality he loves himself and therefore in practice he uses the love of the other to materialise his personal gaol.

This is analogous to the well-known principle, of a person who stays at a hotel and is asked what he loves to eat. He answers that he loves to eat fish. Is his intention that he loves the fish or that he loves himself? For sure he loves himself, since if he really loved the fish, he would set them free and not cause their death thereby turning them into a tasty dish for himself.

In contradistinction, there is the love of another which is deemed “spiritual”. This means that the love of the other, is only, or at least mainly, for the benefit of the recipient, without any personal gain of the giver, since the goal is to just benefit the recipient.

The contrast between one who loves “physically” and one who loves “spiritually” is precisely the point we are deliberating here, feeling the protracted time, how much longer is left to receive something.

A person who loves something from the perspective of “physical love”, his experience, from the perspective of passing time until he receives something, will be feeling a longer period of time than it truly is, because he has laced in his personal goal, which he is anticipating. His personal yearning causes him to feel that a greater time is passing.

However, where it is “spiritual love”, there is no personal interest, the entire goal is to benefit the other. Indeed, on the contrary, the feeling of time passing seems to go quicker.

Therefore, we may now understand that which is related about Yaakov, “But he loved her so much, it seemed like no more than a few days”, Yaakov Avinu loved Rachel from a spiritual perspective, with no vested interest, therefore the time whizzed by, it felt just like “a few days”, since there was literally no personal gain laced in.

This is carefully reflected in the passuk, “But he loved ‘her’ so much, it seemed like no more than a few days”, “her” and not himself in anyway whatsoever.

Shabbat Shalom!

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Making Toast on a Hotplate on Shabbat

Question: May one place a pita or a slice of bread on a hotplate on Shabbat in order to turn it into hard and crunchy toast? Answer: There are two prohibitions we must discuss with regards to our question of making toast on Shabbat out of bread that was already baked before Shabbat. The first ......

Read Halacha

Sitting on Food Items

Question: Is it correct that one may not sit on top of a box containing food or beverages? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (50b) states that it is forbidden to act in a degrading manner towards food. Thus, one may not, for instance, use a piece of cake to wipe up a drink that spilled on t......

Read Halacha

Salting Cucumbers on Shabbat

Question: Is it correct that one may not put salt on cucumbers on Shabbat? Answer: The root of this question lies in the fact that with regards to many Torah laws, we rule that “pickling is tantamount to cooking” meaning that a pickled food is considered like a cooked food. Thus, just......

Read Halacha

Washing Dishes on Shabbat Night and Pouring Water on Dirty Dishes

Question: Upon the conclusion of the Shabbat night meal, may one immediately wash the dishes for the Shabbat day meal or should this only be done during the day closer to the start of the meal? Also, is it permissible to pour water onto soiled dishes (which one no longer needs for Shabbat) so that i......

Read Halacha


The Law Regarding a Woman Who Forgets to Recite the Blessings of the Torah

We have explained in the previous Halacha that if one forgets to recites the Blessings of the Torah and only realizes this after one has concluded Shacharit prayers, one may no longer recite these blessings, for one has already fulfilled his obligation with the “Ahavat Olam” blessing rec......

Read Halacha

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

Question: May one recite the Amida prayer in front of a curtain (covering the Aron Kodesh) which is adorned with various designs?

Answer: The Rambam writes in one of his responses (Freiman edition, Chapter 20): “It is incorrect to pray in front of garments with designs on them, even if the designs are not protruding. We usually close our eyes when it happens that we must pray in front of a wall or garment adorned with de......

Read Halacha

The Law Regarding One Who Forgets to Recite the Morning Blessings

The Morning Blessings (“Birkot Ha’Shachar”) are the blessings recited every morning beginning from the “Elohai Neshama” blessing until the end of the Blessings of the Torah. Both men and women must recite these blessings, as we have discussed in the laws of the Morning ......

Read Halacha