The Counsel of Hashem Endures

Rabbi Reuven Mann

Many people turn to religion for an understandable but selfish reason:  they are in search of Divine protection.  They believe that if  they make the effort and sacrifice necessary to obey the mitzvot they will obtain Hashem's favor and life will be so much better.  There definitely is validity to this concept but it doesn't operate in a simplistic manner.  Becoming "religious" is not a panacea and does not automatically make all one's problems depart.  This can be clearly seen from a careful and honest study of the lives of the patriarchs and matriarchs who are the ultimate role models of the Jewish people.  They served G-d with the greatest dedication and courage and yet things did not necessarily always go smoothly for them.  To the contrary, they encountered many setbacks and disappointments as well as great frustrations.  For example, Rivka and Yitzchak did not have "nachas" from Eisav's wives.  In explaining to Yitzchak why it was imperative for Yaakov to return to Haran, Rivka said:  ".....I am disgusted with my life on account of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth like these, of the daughters of the land, what is life to me?"

Thus Yaakov, alone and without financial resources embarked on a journey to find a suitable mate.  Lavan had an older daughter named Leah and a younger one named Rachel.  Yaakov was attracted to Rachel and wanted to marry her.  It seems that he was aware that Lavan was more interested in marrying off his elder daughter before Rachel.  He therefore made a very substantial offer to Lavan: "I will work for you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter."  The words "younger daughter" are clearly superfluous.  However, their purpose is to justify the exorbitant sum which Yaakov was willing to pay in order to obtain the younger maiden whose turn had not yet come for marriage.  Lavan agreed and Yaakov was very pleased with the arrangement.  Her value was so great that the price did not seem to be excessive.  He worked with faithfulness for seven years and then the marriage took place.  He woke up in the morning and behold it was Leah.  Yaakov had waited for seven years only to be deprived of the goal of his labors and instead to find himself married to one who was not "Bechirat Lebo" (his heart's choice).  Let us all try to imagine how we would act in this kind of situation.  Yaakov angrily accuses Lavan of deception.  Lavan is extremely smooth and sophisticated.  "It is not done this way in this place to give the younger before the older."  Lavan pleaded that he was sincere but that he could not flaunt the custom of the society in which he lived.  To demonstrate his good faith he would allow Yaakov to marry Rachel in exchange for another seven years of work.

The greatness of Yaakov can be seen in his reaction to this unexpected setback and challenge.  He felt betrayed by Lavan but not rejected by Hashem.  His service of G-d was not connected to any particular "outcomes" that he was pursuing.  He put aside his personal frustration and anger and proceeded to marry Rachel.  He never thought he would be married to both Rachel and Leah.  However, he was willing to recognize that "there are many thoughts in the heart of man, but it is the Counsel of Hashem that will endure."  He put all his energy into working to bring to fruition the plan of Hashem and he, with Leah and Rachel established the Shivtei Kah (tribes of Hashem).

Shabbat Shalom