Sharona Margolin Halickman

Leah’s Innovation in Prayer

In Parshat Vayetzei (Breisheet 29:35), after Leah gave birth to her fourth son, she said, “‘This time, let me thank God (odeh at Hashem)’. Therefore she called him Yehuda…”

Leah was the first person to express openly her feelings of thankfulness to God as we see in the Talmud, Brachot 7b: Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai: From the day that the Holy One, Blessed is He, created His world, there was no person who offered thanks to Him until Leah came and thanked Him as it is stated (Breisheet 29:35) “this time let me thank God.”

Sforno points out that the name Yehuda contains the letters of God’s ineffable name as well as the root that means “thankfulness” and “praise.” Therefore the name connotes thanks to God.

According to Rashi, Leah was especially grateful because she had been granted more than her rightful share (as the mother of more than one third of the future total of Yaakov’s sons).

Siftei Chachamim state that “hoda’ah” is the recognition that one has received excessive benefit, beyond what one thinks that they deserve. Leah was the first to realize that God had given her something more than could be expected.

Chidushei HaRim points out that Jews are called Yehudim after Yehuda, because it is a Jewish characteristic to always be thankful to God.

May we always be appreciative of the blessings that God bestows upon us.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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