What is the significance of HaShem making promises to an unconscious , sleeping Yaakov?
Why did HaShem allow Yitzchak to be duped by Rivkah and Yaakov to be deceived by Leah?
Why does our mystical tradition refer to Rachel as the “revealed world” and to Leah as “the hidden world?
Yitzchak summoned Yaakov, bestowed a blessing on him and commanded him “Do not marry a Canaanite girl”.
— Bereishis 28:1
Yaakov left Beersheba and headed toward Charan … taking some stones he placed them about his head and lay down to sleep there … Suddenly [he observed] HaShem Standing over him … [HaShem said] I am with you. I will Safeguard you howsoever you go.
— Bereishis 28:10,11,13,15
HaShem Elokim said “it is not good for man to be alone. I will Make him a challenging helper.”
— Bereishis 12:18
Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: “Forty days before the formation of an embryo, a Bas Kol-Echo of the Divine Voice; emanates and proclaims, The daughter of A is destined for B.’”
— Sotah 2A
House and riches are the legacy of fathers; but a sensible wife is from HaShem.
— Mishlei 19:14
We see from all segments of the tripartite Torah that the match between a woman and a man is from HaShem[‘s Divine Providence.]
— Moed Katan 18B
There are those who must go after their mates and others whose mates come to them. Yitzchak’s mate came to him, as it is written “(He raised his eyes) and beheld camels coming [transporting his bride Rivkah.] (Bereishis 24:63)” Yaakov went after his mate, as it is written “Yaakov left Beersheba … (Bereishis 28:10) “
— Bereishis Rabbah 68:3
Yaakov loved Rachel and said [to Lavan] “I will work for seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.” … In the evening he [Lavan] took his daughter Leah to Yaakov who consummated the marriage with her … In the morning discovering that she was Leah [not Rachel] he said to Lavan “How could you do this to me? Didn’t I labor with you for Rachel[‘s hand in marriage]? Why did you cheat me?
— Bereishis 29: 18, 23,25
A reasonable argument can be made that THE greatest enigma in all of Jewish thought is the conundrum of Yediah u’bechirah-HaShem’s perfect infallible Foreknowledge vs. human free-will. But spinning off of this supreme enigma there are many sub-riddles and mysteries e.g. the particular Providential involvement that our sages ascribe to one’s destined marriage partner. Another example are narratives, both scriptural and personal, of “all’s well that ends well.” There are times when what we think, say or do seems to be thoughtless, ethically neutral or even contrary to the Divine Will. However when later chapters of these biographies are written by the Divine Author, with the passage of time and with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, we realize that, in truth, what we thought, said or did carried a positive ethical charge and was consistent with the Divine Will.
Our sages divide the Providential involvement in matching men with their destined marriage partners into two broad categories: those who must go after their mates and those whose mates come to them.
The Bais Yaakov, the second Izhbitzer, explains that when the Divine Will ordained the creation of woman as a helper to man that, this help too, would manifest itself in two different ways: There are times when a man is proactive in the pursuit of a woman and chooses a mate based on what his rationale, and the rationale of his heart, dictate. He marries a woman in whom heperceives the qualities that will aid him in his life’s work and mission. Such men are among those “who must go after their mates.”
Then there are men whose mates are not at all in accordance with what would naturally be assumed or expected. They come to their husbands without the latter having invested any intellectual, spiritual or emotional capital in determining whether or not they would “make sense” as a married couple. HaShem sends this woman to this man in ways that are counterintuitive and that, at first, seem to thwart both the Divine Will and hinder or delay the achievement of the husband’s goals.
The Bais Yaakov teaches that aid provided by the wives in such matches functions on the level of “It is time for doing something on HaShem’s behalf; they have abrogated Your Torah,” (Tehillim 119:126.) Superficially this passuk-verse; reads like the height of claptrap and irrationality. How could abrogating the Torah ever be “doing something on HaShem’s behalf”? Yet there are such times and circumstances. The same rule that applies to bein adam l’Makom-human relationships with HaShem; is valid when it pertains to the ultimate bein adam l’chaveiro-interpersonal relationship; marriage. There are zivugim-matches; in which the wife sometimes acts “on the husbands behalf,” by abrogating his desires, plans and agenda — his personal “Torah.”
The Bais Yaakov asserts that what our sages are referring to when they categorized “ … others whose mates come to them” are those marriages that HaShem Orchestrates in ways that seem to thwart, hinder or delay the achievement of the husbands goals, or even the Divine Will Itself kivyachol-so to speak. In such zivugim, who did the actual traveling towards whom is really beside the point. This explains how the Arizal could describe the marriage of Yaakov and Leah as being in the category of “those whose mates come to them,” despite the fact that — in geographical terms — Yaakov traveled to Leah’s native land. Since Yaakov achieved his zivug with Leah unconsciously, passively and effortlessly, not to mention in a manner that seemingly derailed his life’s mission, or at least set it back for many years, their marriage is characterized by the Arizal as one in which “his mate came to him.”
Moreover the Bais Yaakov’s approach offers us a deeper insight into why the zivug of Yitzchak and Rivkah is described as being the template for the category of “his mate came to him.” It is not simply that Yitzchak was passive instead of proactive and that he never left home to pursue his mate. It is that in classic “It is time for doing something on HaShem’s behalf; they have abrogated Your Torah,” fashion, Rivkah provided her supreme assistance to Yitzchak in a way that, on the surface, thwarted his will and agenda.
Conscious of his looming mortality, Yitzchak undertook to complete his life’s mission, by bestowing the -blessings; on the next generation. He accomplished what he needed to unconsciously. To all appearances the scheming and self-serving Rivkah manipulated Yitzchak to advance her agenda at the expense of her husband’s, but on a profound subtextual level Yitzchak was not oblivious or unconscious in a conventional sense. He is being aided by Rivkah, his “who came to him,” in a manner that transcended the limitations of human rationale and consciousness.Conscious of his looming mortality, Yitzchak undertook to complete his life’s mission, by bestowing the brachos-blessings; on the next generation. He accomplished what he needed to unconsciously. To all appearances the scheming and self-serving Rivkah manipulated Yitzchak to advance her agenda at the expense of her husband’s, but on a profound subtextual level Yitzchak was not oblivious or unconscious in a conventional sense. He is being aided by Rivkah, his zivug “who came to him,” in a manner that transcended the limitations of human rationale and consciousness.
The Bais Yaakov avers that every “all’s well that ends well” narrative, those scenarios when we imagine that we are up to no good yet, ultimately, it becomes clarified that what we did was, in truth, good; are all iterations of “our zivugim coming to us.”
There is a passage in the Zohar (Vayeitzei 124A) that reinterprets the passuk “Who makes the barren woman to dwell in her house as a joyful mother of children … ” (Tehillim 113:9) as referring to two disparate individuals. Rachel is identified as the “barren woman in the house (alternatively as the principal woman/ homemaker of the household)” while Leah is said to be “the mother of the children.”
The Bais Yaakov explains that Leah’s characteristic of “mates who come to them” is equated with motherhood. This is because the first woman and wife, Chavah-life-giver; was so named by her husband because she was the mother of all life, (Bereishis 3:20) and the zivug between Adam and Chavah was one of “mates who come to them.” Regarding Chavah the Torah explicitly states that “Hashem Elokim Built the rib that He Took from the [sleeping, unconscious] man into a woman, and He Brought her to the man. (Bereishis 2:22)” As the Mei Hashiloach taught, the origin of Adam’s relationship with Chavah was unconsciousness, and Adam was meant to follow Chavah even when following her would seem to be the antithesis of good. Chavah was to fulfill her “challenging helper” role by providing her mate with assistance that transcended the limitations of his rationale and consciousness.
And so, among Yaakov’s wives it is Leah who is most identified with motherhood. She was the zivug who “came to him” unconsciously, effortlessly and, to all appearances, in an evil and duplicitous way. Her children’s lives are marred by all kinds of overtly scandalous and evil episodes (Reuven and Bilhah, Yehudah and Tamar, the massacre of Shechem, the kidnapping and sale of Yoseph etc.) Yet their narratives are at last redeemed by the spirit of “all’s well that ends well” finales. As Yoseph famously tells them “Shall I then takes Elokim’s place? While you may have thought to do me harm, Elokim Thought [of ways and means] for [it to turn out] good!” (Bereishis 19:20)”
At the beginning of the weekly Sidrah, G-d blesses Yaakov in many ways and Makes him many promises for a rich and glorious future. The Mei Hashiloach includes the passage “Suddenly [the sleeping dreaming Yaakov observed] HaShem Standing over him,” among the blessings. He interprets it to mean that the kedushah-sanctity; of Yaakov like that of Shabbos and unlike that of Yom Tov, is completely G-d-Driven, innate and immutable.
The Bais Yaakov, elaborating his father’s point, points out that the lashon kodesh-holy tongue; word used for “Standing” is nitzav and not the more commonly found omed, because while standing, free-will endowed, fickle men are at times omdim; inert mineral pillars, are nitzavim. A standing man may soon choose to sit, lie down or walk away. But, as it lacks a will of its own, an inert, fixed column, once erect, will remain standing. Kivyachol G-d Made His Standing Approval of Yaakov and His Investiture of Yaakov’s kedushah akin to that of a pillar —incontrovertible and enduring — not to that of a standing man.
HaShem blessed a sleeping, unconscious Yaakov with this immutable kedushah. Yaakov may have imagined that his short nap was but a necessary pause that refreshes from his free-will labors of going after his mate, but HaShem’s Foreknowledge and Providential Intervention forced the sun down early to bless and invest Yaakov with the kind of kedushah that is informed by his mate coming to him. In the rational reveled world of human free-will Yaakov left Beersheba to pursue his zivug Rachel. Nevertheless in the hidden world of Divine Foreknowledge, shrouded in the impenetrable veils of unknowable dreamy, mysteries, his zivug Leah pursues him. For while on the one hand the proper exercise of human free-will is the raison d’être of humanity; ultimately the deep, exalted mysteries of G-d’s foreknowledge can never be plumbed and reign supreme. In the words of the Bais Yaakov “of what significance is human rationale compared to the Will of HaShem?”
~Adapted from Mei Hashiloach Bereishis D”H vayomer ha’adam
Mei Hashiloach Vayeitzei D”H v’hinei
Bais Yaakov Vayeitzei 43
Bais Yaakov al haTorah v’hamoadim Vayeitzei D”H v’hinei HaShem
And D”H VaYomer Ani HaShem