Avrohom Leventhal
Avrohom Leventhal

The Sin of Omission

The Parsha in Chesed – Vayetzei

The story of Yaakov and his wives is the story of the Jewish people. The 12 Tribes came from the union of Yaakov and one of his four wives. And this story is not without “drama”. Yaakov intended to marry his beloved Rochel (and only Rochel). G-d, through the deceitful actions of Lavan, had other plans.

Despite Yaakov’s feeling of betrayal, his belief in G-d allowed him to understand that while Lavan’s intentions might have been less than noble, the Master Plan would take the upper hand.

There is a disturbing narrative within the parsha. Although Rochel was the true beloved of Yaakov, and seemingly because she was, it was Leah who was blessed with children. Rochel remained barren for a long time.

The Torah tells us the reason:

וירא ה׳ כי שנואה לאה ויפתח את רחמה ורחל עקרה
And HaShem saw that Leah was hated and He opened her womb and Rochel was barren.

Is it possible that Yaakov, the father of the Jewish people, the “wholesome” tent dweller, could hate anyone, let alone his wife? In fact, it is stated earlier, that ויאהב גם את רחל מלאה “and he loved also Rochel even more than Leah”. So he did in fact love Leah. Just not as much as he did Rochel.

How then, does the Torah say that Leah was hated?

The answer is that since Yaakov showed his love more for Rochel, Leah felt hated. Yaakov should have been a bit more sensitive and understand that Leah needed to be equally recognized and appreciated as his wife. HaShem gave her the abundance of children so that Yaakov would naturally balance his feelings toward her.

For Leah, it wasn’t what Yaakov said or did. It was what he didn’t say.

The sin of omission.

We see from here an important lesson for us in how our actions can be perceived by others. One doesn’t need to display dislike for another for them to feel unliked or in extreme cases even “hated”.

Our spouses, children, friends and colleagues are tuned into how we interact. The newcomer to shul or to the neighborhood seeks to be recognized and accepted.

Are we making the “right moves” towards others?

Making others feel appreciated is easier than we realize. A greeting and smile can go a long way. Putting down the phone (and yes, even the Sefer) for a few minutes will give our spouse, child or friend a feeling of importance . They mean something to you.

ואבהת לרעך כמוך
‪Who doesn’t want to feel liked, loved or even just noticed by others?‬

‪You can never know how that little bit of attention can make another’s day and in some cases their life.‬

‪Validating the presence and importance of everyone in our life takes just a small drop of time and consideration.‬

‪Time well spent and consideration much appreciated.‬

‪Shabbat Shalom‬

About the Author
Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal, noted educator and speaker, is the Executive Director at Lema'an Achai.
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