Erev Shabbos Kodesh Vayeitzei Inspiration 5775

It is fitting that the Shabbos before my daughter gets married IY”H, we read about Yaakov marrying Rachel and Leah and how they produce the twelve tribes of Klal Yisroel. There is something peculiar, however, regarding the manner in which Yaakov marries his wives. The Torah records that Lavan schemes against Yaakov and presents Leah first, despite the fact that Yaakov worked for Rachel. When Yaakov confronts Lavan with this deception, Lavan responds that it is not proper to offer the younger daughter in marriage prior to the older one. Lavan then declares (Bereishis 29:27) מַלֵּא שְׁבֻעַ זֹאת וְנִתְּנָה לְךָ גַּם אֶת זֹאת בַּעֲבֹדָה אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲבֹד עִמָּדִי עוֹד שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים אֲחֵרוֹת, complete the [wedding] week of this one, and we will give you this one too, for the work that you will render me for another seven years. Rashi writes that the word שְׁבֻעַ refers to the seven days of feasting that are celebrated by a newly wedded couple. Why is Lavan referencing the seven days of feasting, a Jewish custom, when he is essentially swindling Yaakov regarding Yaakov’s marriage partner?

The answer to this question can be found in the words that we recite in the Bircas Hamazon of the seven day feast. The words are נְבָרֵךְ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ שֶׁהַשִּׂמְחָה בִּמְעוֹנוֹ. וְשֶׁאָכַלְנוּ מִשֶּׁלוֹ, “we will bless our G-d, that the joy is in His abode, and that we ate from what is His.” What is the association between HaShem’s abode and a groom and bride? We find (Mishna Kerisus 1:7) that the word מָּעוֹן is used to mean a form of oath. We can suggest that when one marries, he is accepting responsibility to support his wife materialistically, and this is akin to an oath. While Lavan may not have known it, he was teaching Yaakov,and subsequently all of the Jewish People, the significance of a marriage. When a man takes a wife, he must be committed to taking care of his wife in all matters, and only then can he be blessed with a happy marriage.  HaShem used Lavan as the agent for blessing in marriage, as is evidenced in his blessing to Rivka before she married Eliezer. Similarly, Lavan perpetuated his “marriage lessons” with Yaakov, lessons that the Jewish People have eternalized.

Have a Shabbos filled with joy and responsibility!

Rabbi Adler

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