When we think of the many stories of sibling rivalry in Sefer Bereshit, the Book of Genesis, we tend to focus on brothers. But let’s not forget that in this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei, the relationship between two sisters, Leah and Rahel, is front and center.
There are several ways that the Torah draws our attention to the differences between the sisters. Here are three examples:
“Now Lavan had two daughters; the name of the older one (gedolah) was Leah, and the name of the younger (ketanah) was Rachel” (Genesis 29:16)
“Leah had weak eyes; Rachel was shapely and beautiful” (Genesis 29:17).
“Lavan said, ‘It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger (hatze’irah) before the older (habekhirah) (Genesis 29:26).
Notice that the Torah uses two sets of terms to describe their age difference, and that in between these references, it tells us of their relative beauty. This third factor seems to be Ya’akov’s primary motivation for choosing Rahel, and yet, through another act of deception, he ends up married to Leah first. What might we learn from the Torah’s description of these sisters and from the stories about them? We’ll look closely on Shabbat morning.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,