Parashat Vayetze

While American soap operas might be on their last legs, there is one soap opera that we tune into every year: the story of Yaakov, Rachel, and Leah. Since JDate had yet to be created, Yaakov needed to find a wife the old fashion way, by heading to the well. In Parashat Vayetze, Yaakov meets his gorgeous first-cousin Rachel and immediately kisses her and cries. The Midrash in Genesis Rabbah 70:12 states that kissing is “indecent” behavior except for in a few cases, including when family members unite (which is why the Midrash rates the scene in our Torah portion as “PG”). The Midrash also asks why Yaakov cried upon meeting Rachel for the first time. The Midrash states that Yaakov may have been upset because he came empty-handed to the well. After all, in Parashat Chayei Sarah, when Avraham’s servant Eliezer went to find a wife for Isaac, he was well-equipped with jewelry galore. While the Midrash offers several other possibilities for Yaakov’s sudden display of emotion, perhaps Yaakov cried because he somehow sensed that he was about to enter a real mess for the sake of true love – fourteen years of servitude for his father-in-law would not be an easy feat!

Genesis Rabbah 70:20 postulates that individuals work harder the first few hours of their days and become more lax as their days progress. Yaakov, however, worked just as hard in his first seven years of shepherding for his father-in-law Lavan, as he did in his second round of seven years of labor. Nothing, not even seven more years of servitude, was going to come between Yaakov and his true love!

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