Torah thought forFriday 8 Kislev 5783 December 2 2022

Parashat Vayetze

From Rav Yaakov Sasson Shlit”a, a grandson of Maran zt”l
(Translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy Shlit”a, Leeds UK)

How Leah’s Prayers Changed the Order of Creation Meriting Her to Marry Yaakov and Not Eisav, and How Maran zt”l Came to Marry His Wife Rabbanit Margalit a”h

It states in the Parashah, “Leah had lovely eyes (others translate as “weak eyes”), while Rachel was shapely and beautiful” (Bereishit 29:17).

The commentaries explain that in those generations the most privileged families in the world would marry one another. Indeed up to about 100 years ago royalty would always intermarry. The royalty of Egypt and Rome, Russia and Hungary, English and Germany, always preferred to seek out royal matches. Likewise they were accustomed at the time of the Avot, that privileged men married women from privileged families, especially when the match seemed particularly appropriate.

It is explained in “Seder HaDorot”, [completed 1725, published 1768) by Lithuanian Rabbi, Rav Yechiel Heilprin z”l (1660–1746)] that just as Yaakov and Eisav were twins, so were Rachel and Leah. Apart from this, they were related. Avraham and Betuel [Avraham’s nephew] married their children, Avraham bore Yitzchak and Betuel bore Rivkah. Therefore it was now appropriate that Yitzchak and Lavan [Betuel’s son], who were cousins, should marry their children. Yitzchak’s first-born to marry Lavan’s first-born, and Yitzchak’s younger son to marry Rachel.

They were saying everywhere, “Yitzchak has two sons and Lavan two daughters, the older one to the older one and the younger one to the younger one!” Leah heard this, and she cried every day. Bitter cries and supplications before Hashem that He save her from Eisav’s hands and that she too merit Yaakov. Meanwhile Rachel heard what everyone was saying and her heart was joyful knowing that she would marry Yaakov the tzaddik. Therefore it states about Leah, that her eyes were weak, because due to her excessive crying her eyelashes fell out (Bava Batra 123b).

We must consider, why were the righteous Rachel and Leah born as twins? Why did heaven designate to Yaakov two wives? Why were two sons, twins, born to Yitzchak? Did Yaakov alone not suffice?

The Zohar explains that at first when two sons were born to Yitzchak, Eisav was fit to be the fourth patriarch to Am Yisrael. Meaning there would have been four patriarchs and four matriarchs. Because Eisav the wicked one had precious spiritual abilities, more precious than gold. If he had lent to the good  path, then together with Yaakov, he would have merited to be a patriarch for Am Yisrael. Therefore from the outset Lavan bore twins. The older one Leah was indeed designated to Eisav, whilst the younger one Rachel was designated to Yaakov.

But Eisav the wicked one chose an evil path and he became the father of Am Yisrael’s oppressors. Leah understood that she must change the order of the world, in order to change her mazal and to merit Yaakov and not Eisav.

I will relate the following. When Savta, the Rabbanit Margalit a”h, Maran’s zt”l wife, was a young lady, there were almost no G-d-fearing girls who wanted to marry talmidei chachamim. There were a few bnei Torah, especially amongst the Sephardim and there were no Bet Yaakov seminaries for Sephardi girls. Therefore all of the Rabbanit’s friends sought young men who worked, who were able to support their families. The Rabbanit was also offered these young men and indeed she met some of them. However, when it became apparent that these  young men didn’t wish to study Torah she would chuckle at them, saying, how can they, intelligent people, neglect the main purpose of life, and see the emptinesses of this world! And so she was left without anyone to marry whilst her friends merited to establish homes.

Maran zt”l was also plunged into great distress. For he couldn’t find even one young lady who would agree to marry him, knowing that he was unable to comfortably sustain a family and that only poverty will be present in his home. Therefore, even when he met various young ladies, when he saw that they want to spend time with their husbands going to cinemas and sit in cafes, as everyone was accustomed to, he rejected all of the suggestions which were made to him.

His situation was so dire, until he turned to one of his friends, who had already merited to marry an orphan and asked him that since he has a sister-in-law, his wife’s sister, and she is single, perhaps he can make a match between them. Maran’s friend turned to his brothers-in-law who were responsible for marrying the family’s girls. He suggested to them the prodigy HaRav Ovadia Yosef, and he didn’t spare any words in praising the match in their eyes. The brothers-in-law retorted, “You are a talmid chacham! One chacham suffices in the family! We don’t need anymore.” That young lady ended up marrying an electrician who provided very well for her, but he wasn’t a talmid chacham, and in time was one of Maran’s zt”l fans.

At that time, Maran zt”l placed his supplication before Hashem, because he was already 24 years old and still hadn’t established his home. The Rabbanit was also crying and praying from the depths of her heart that Hashem provide her with a match of her will. And so at the end the Rabbanit’s father the Mekubal Rav Avraham Fattal zt”l (1890-1981) turned to Rabbeinu HaGaon Rav Ezra Attiya zt”l (1885-1970) and asked him about the young man Rav Ovadia Yosef. Rav Ezra Attiya went out of his way and replied, “If Yeshivat Porat Yosef had only been established to produce Chacham Ovadia Yosef, it would be enough!” Afterwards he asked further about him to the Gaon Rav Yaakov Adas zt”l (1898-1963). Rav Yaakov replied to him, “If you listen to me, ‘grab him’, and I will come to the engagement!” And so after a while the Rav and Rabbanit met and they found favour in each other and had a meeting of minds. The joy of the “engagement” was celebrated with simchah with Rav Yaakov Adas attending the event, singing loudly and he said, “Here is the true world! A place where this young man is present, this is a true world, there is nothing to be embarrassed about! I am singing for the Torah’s honour!”

Leah our Matriarch could have got used to the fact that Eisav is suitable for her. Eisav is an important person, exceedingly wealthy, and respected throughout the world at that time. He was literally like a king. Leah didn’t study in a “Bet Yaakov Seminary”, yet despite this, she thought deeply and was able to realise that only through the power of prayer is she able to change the decree of her mazal. Every day she would go out and supplicate before Hashem that he save her from Eisav’s hands and that she merit Yaakov. Due to the power of the prayers and the tears that she shed, she merited to change the order and she was the first to merit to Yaakov, to become the regal mother and to establish Hashem’s Tribes.

Through this we may fathom what the power of prayer is and the power of tears. They aren’t just effective for healing and a good livelihood but are even capable of changing the the order of Creation. Things that were determined through a decree and effect all generations. These things too can be changed through the power of prayer!

Shabbat Shalom!