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One was Loved, One was Hated

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The Torah uses a harsh word to describe Jacob’s feelings for his first wife, Leah: that she was hated. Alarmed by this language, some commentaries suggest that “hated” does not mean Leah was actually hated, just loved less that her sister, Rachel. In whatever way we choose to understand it, this was not a healthy family situation, and no doubt it impacted upon the day-to-day life of our matriarchs in a variety of ways.
In this week’s Torah portion, we read about one such tense moment in the Jacob-Leah-Rachel triangle:

Once, at the time of the wheat harvest, Reuben came upon some mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
But she said to her, “Was it not enough for you to take away my husband, that you would also take my son’s mandrakes?” Rachel replied, “I promise, he shall lie with you tonight, in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
When Jacob came home from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You are to sleep with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” And he lay with her that night. (Gen. 30:14-16)

Commentators analyzing this back and forth barter seem to take one side or the other.

For Rashi, this story illustrates Rachel’s desperate state. Feeling empty, having not yet born a child to her husband Jacob, she begs for some of the mandrakes, the fertility fruits gathered in from the field by Reuven. Desperate to have a child, focused only on the hope to conceive, she brashly sells her husband to her sister for the promise that the........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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