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Rachel’s Loyalty

The marriage of Yakov to Leah and Rachel, has a point that is not given enough emphasis. This is the behavior of Rachel towards Leah, and how this was a great act of compassion.
Rashi tells us that Yakov and Rachel were fully aware that Lavan was very devious, and he might try something to sabotage their marriage. They were even ready in case Lavan would switch Leah for Rachel, at the last minute. Rachel gave Yakov certain signs, that would prove it was her, and not her sister.

When the wedding day came, there was a last minute change of plans. Rachel realized that if she exposed her father’s deceit, the victim would be Leah.

If Leah didn’t go ahead with the marriage, she would have suffered great shame and embarrassment. She would not go down in history as one of our Matriarchs, and she could have gotten stuck marrying Eisav.

As much as Rachel desperately wanted to marry Yakov, she could not destroy her sister. Rav Elazar Abuchatzeira often pointed to this story, to remind us that if we are ever in a situation where we can cause great harm to another Jew, we must not do so. And this applies even when we were wronged by that person.

If, for example, we were forced to sue someone in court for cheating us. If we are in the right and we win the case, but the other party cannot pay, and will lose everything, we cannot destroy him. We will not see any blessing from any of the funds he is forced to pay back.

Rachel taught us the true meaning of compassion. It is an extremely valuable lesson for us, and how we are to treat others.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for more than twenty years. He has been teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach, Old Katamon, Jerusalem, for the nearly seventeen years. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles.