In this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei, we read of the marriage of Yaakov to Lavan’s two daughters, Rochel and Leah.
Many of the commentaries question this. We are taught that even before the Torah was given, our forefathers kept all of its commands. One of those commands is the prohibition against marrying two sisters; as the Torah says “you shall not take a woman with her sister in marriage …” This being the case, how was Yaakov, our forefather, permitted to marry Rochel and Leah, who were sisters?
Each of the commentaries answer this question in their own manner. However, Rashi does not deal with this question. He explains the simple meaning of the Torah; everything which is needed in order to understand the entire Torah. Yet he pays no attention to this question. In other words, according to Peshat there is no question. How can that be?
The status of the Patriarchs and their descendants prior to the giving of the Torah was that of a special family among all of the children of Noach. The entire population of the world was commanded to follow seven commandments. After the Torah was given to the Jewish Nation, the Jews acquired a special status, and were obligated to fulfill 613 Mitzvos.
In addition to the seven universal commandments, the population of the world accepted upon themselves other commandments for the benefit of society. These were equally binding upon everyone. For example, it was accepted not to deceive another. Accordingly, we find that Yaakov scolded Lovon, “why have you deceived me?”
These commandments which were binding upon everyone, took precedence over the 613 commandments of the Torah. For our forefathers keeping the Torah’s Mitzvos was something extra which enhanced their service of G-d. If the fulfillment of any the 613 commandments would render it impossible to observe one of the binding commandments, it could not be fulfilled. Yaakov had already promised that he would marry Rachel, hence he was obligated to do so.
There are times that helping our fellow Jew, and keeping our word must take precedence over another law. May we all take care (after checking with a competent Rabbi) that we are not being too religious, and remember to help our fellow Jews.
I wish one and all a wonderful Shabbos.
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 5, Beginning with Page 141
DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש
IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס
. This is cited in a number of places in the Midrash. Among them, see Bereishis Rabbah, Chapter 95, 3.
. Parshas Acharei, Vayikroh 18:18.
. Our Parshah, Bereishis 29:25.