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Thought for the Day: Appreciating What the Torah Tells Us About the Avos

On Shabbos I was asked a perfectly reasonable question on the parsha by a chashuva young lady.  She has questions on the parsha nearly every week and they are always good.  I try my best to answer them,  and often have to look around the m'forshim to find an answer.  Sometimes her questions come from an angle that I don't really hear, in those cases I often revert to using a "broader brush" approach and think (hope) that it addresses her question.  That's what I did this last week.  She listened attentively and responded, "Thank you.  I notice that you used my question as a vehicle to give the d'var torah you wanted to give anyway."  Ouch.  "As has happened before."  Oops; busted.

When I first started learning over 20 years ago, I listened to torah tapes.  Lots and lots of torah tapes.  I listened on my hour long commute and even when I was mowing the lawn.  One of the first set of tapes I heard was "The 48 Ways To Wisdom" by R' Noach Weinberg, z"tzl.  During one of the lectures, R' Weinberg talked about accepting criticism.  "Would it bother you if someone told you that you have ugly green wings?", he asked.  "Of course not; because you don't have wings at all, let alone ugly green ones.  Therefore if you hear a criticism and it bothers you, it must be that there is an element to truth to it.  Now if someone told you that you have a spot on your tie, you'd want to know that, right?  So you should thank the person."

So, ok... Instead of saying "oops" and "ouch", let me really say, "thank you".  And I have also looked around more and now think I can answer the question.

The question was, "Why does the Torah seem to present Leah Imeinu in such a negative light?  Telling us she has weak, puffy eyes from crying all the time and that's why she gets her husband."  First, the Ohr Chayim haKodesh says, "Chas v'Shalom to think that the Torah speaks negatively about Leah Imeinu, one of the mothers of klal yisrael!"  The Ohr Chayim goes on to explain that the Torah simply wanted to point out the differences between Rochel and Leah to accentuate how devious Lavan was being in making the switch.  Moreover, both the Rashbam and Da'as Z'keinim explain "v'einei Leah rakos" just as it says, "soft eyes"; ie, beautiful eyes.  The Da'as Z'keinim goes further to say that the Torah told us about Leah's eyes because once a woman is described as having beautiful/warm/soft eyes, no more description is necessary.  Rochel on the other hand, did not have beautiful eyes (though she was beautiful) because of her crying about knowing she would not have children and being worried that Yaakov might come to divorce her and so she would be left to Eisav.

I am hoping I got to the core of your question; it is not that the Torah presents Leah in a negative light, but that we don't have our lights focused correctly.  The p'sukim are chosen with care and we have to approach Chumash with due respect.


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