Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What Happens in Hharan, Stays in Hharan

So one of the big questions in this week's parsha, Vayeitzei’, is how the heck could Ya‘aqov have confused Rahheil and Lei’a on his wedding night? Was she wearing a "dek tichel" or something? Were they, you know, with the mythical hole-in-the-sheet?

An idea came to me today, which I don't remember seeing anywheres else before; probably because it isn't nearly as edifying as, for instance, the interpretation that it was really dark and Rahheil gave Lei’a her and Ya‘aqov's secret signals so that her sister wouldn't be ashamed.

וַיַּעֲבֹד יַעֲקֹב בְּרָחֵל שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים, וַיִּהְיוּ בְעֵינָיו כְּיָמִים אֲחָדִים בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ אֹתָהּ. וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אֶל לָבָן, הָבָה אֶת אִשְׁתִּי — כִּי מָלְאוּ יָמָי, וְאָבוֹאָה אֵלֶיהָ. וַיֶּאֱסֹף לָבָן אֶת כָּל אַנְשֵׁי הַמָּקוֹם, וַיַּעַשׂ מִשְׁתֶּה. וַיְהִי בָעֶרֶב, וַיִּקַּח אֶת לֵאָה בִתּוֹ, וַיָּבֵא אֹתָהּ אֵלָיו; וַיָּבֹא אֵלֶיהָ. [...] וַיְהִי בַבֹּקֶר, וְהִנֵּה הִוא לֵאָה!...

And then Ya‘aqov worked for Rahheil seven years; but they were in his eyes as just a few days, in his love for her. And then Ya‘aqov said to Lavan, “Give me my wife — for my [contracted] days have been fulfilled, and I want to come to her.” And then Lavan gathered all the people of the place, and he made a drinking-party. And then it was in the evening, and he took Lei’a his daughter, and brought her to him [=Ya‘aqov]; and he [=Ya‘aqov] came to her. [...] And then it was in the morning, and hey, she was Lei’a!...

from Bereishit/Genesis 29:20-25
Notice the sequence. First Lavan makes a big party. Then, later, he brings his daughter and gives her to Ya‘aqov. It may very well have been that in accordance with the term משתה, from the root 'drink', this was, as they say, an "open bar" wedding reception — before the wedding itself. Ya‘aqov Avinu could have been quite seriously and happily sloshed by the time his bride showed up; with this trick up his sleeve, Lavan would have made sure to ply him with as much alcohol as possible, in order to dull Ya‘aqov's senses enough so that he wouldn't notice the switch!

And then in the morning?

Oy what a headache. In many more ways than one.


Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Interesting peshot.

And that bit about the connection between the יָמִים אֲחָדִים passages-- did you just come up with that?

11/29/2006 11:43 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


I wish i'd've thought of the yamim ahhadim connection myself; but that's Rashi, not on ימים אחדים but on 29:28.

11/30/2006 7:15 AM  
Blogger Amishav said...

Ya'akov Avinu drunk? You mean that our forefathers might have partied? In OUR Torah? Noooooo....

11/30/2006 2:51 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

You mean the chasan was shikker vi a bishop?

Makes sense, makes sense. Not the first time that happened. The man getting married often needs a little Dutch courage.

The switch must've happened after the mitzvo tanz.

11/30/2006 8:54 PM  
Blogger Knitter of shiny things said...

Maybe she was wearing a burka...

11/30/2006 9:22 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


only when that evil Lavan tricked/forced him into it, of course ;-)


i didn't know the Dutch were known for that type of bravado.


or a paper bag! :-P

11/30/2006 11:53 PM  
Blogger Knitter of shiny things said...


Well she was the ugly one, wasn't she?

12/01/2006 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Mike Koplow said...

So, what's nonedifying about your interpretation?

12/01/2006 1:53 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


It doesn't inspire people towards spiritual growth. Unless "make sure you identify your fiancee before you start drinking at your wedding" is spiritual growth :-P

12/01/2006 1:58 PM  
Blogger Elie said...

Steg: I like the idea that Yaakov was drunk, especially if you assume that this was part of Lavan's plot. For anyone who objects that our heilige avos wouldn't get drunk, I direct them to Gen 43:34.

On the comment above "maybe she was wearing a burka", in all seriousness she probably was! In fact, here's what occurred to me when reviewing the parshah this week. We are told explicitly that Rachel and Leah did not look alike, in that Leah just had beautiful eyes, while Rachel was beautiful overall. Therefore, if Leah was indeed dressed for the wedding all covered up with only her eyes showing, it makes the deception more plausible. After all, her eyes are the one feature in which she could compete with, and possibly be confused with, Rachel!

12/02/2006 11:23 PM  
Blogger Ari Kinsberg said...

"Ya'akov Avinu drunk? You mean that our forefathers might have partied? In OUR Torah? Noooooo...."

and drunk on stam yenam no less!

12/03/2006 2:37 AM  
Anonymous beverly said...

I beg to differ. This post is not non-edifying at all. Sure, Yaakov messed up. He had a few too many drinks before his wedding. But he was STILL yaakov avinu. He made a huge mistake. He married the wrong girl, for crying out loud, and therefore had to stay with Lavan another SEVEN YEARS, which any good Rosh Yeshiva will tell you is not good for ones yiddishkeit. However, even though he had to work hard at rectifying his mistake, he does in the end rectify it, and become the forefather of our nation. If that doesn't say "You too, can do teshuva" I don't know what does.

12/03/2006 11:39 AM  
Blogger yingerman said...

Uhh why all the fuss?
I always understood that it was pitch black remember there Edison hadn't been born just yet.
And Leah was Rachels twins but for her eyes.
So Leah And Rachel looked and smelled and sounded like each other.
But for the eyes.
Try this at home boys and girls, shut all the lights and shades. Light a candle or two.
Look into someone's eyes.
Assuming you don't already know the eye color, see if you can tell color or if they have bags under their eyes.
Go ahead I'll wait...................
see! You can't see a darn thing.
I think Reb Steg owes Yakov Avinu a public apology.

12/03/2006 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Jacob Farkas said...

The pasuq makes no mention of his drinking. The Pasuq does suggest that the trickery was accomplished/discovered using Erev/Boqer, a seemingly unnecessary fact had he been inebriated.

The mention of Mishteh is to show that Lavan decided against the midnight chapel route and actually planned a party, in no doubt to ensure that no one could dispute that a wedding took place.

Deviating from P'shat just a tad....
Had Ya'aqov been inebriated, the Qidushin would have been in doubt, because depending on the level of drunkenness, Qidushin may be invalidated.
One of the reasons a Hasan fasts on the day of his Huppah is to avoid being drunk which could cast doubt on the validity of the Qidushin.

12/04/2006 12:58 PM  
Blogger Noyam said...

Qiddushin? So pashut p'shat is to assume that a "wedding" in Hharan was k'halacha, exactly like we do it today?

I guess there was big fight between Lavan and Yaakov over who got to sing the Bracha Achrita!

Maybe Elifaz was the emcee? "Mechubad, with the sixth bracha, Lavan ben Betual, father of the Kallah." Was "HaRav Shem Noakawitz, Rebbe of the Chosson" the mesader qiddushin?

Come on. Steg's reading makes much more sense, of how Ya'aqob (I'm loving using the q, btw), a supposed trickster himself, who outsmarted Lavan at every turn, save this one, got outsmarted this time, than to suggest there was Qiddushin and Nissuin!

Even Ya'qob's words suggest he was mainly interested in, well, the yichud room: Give me my wife...that I may go in unto her.

12/04/2006 2:01 PM  
Blogger yingerman said...

Sorry bunch it seems.
Why on earth would bloggers, search to knock the avos, who's zichsim have lasted for millenia.
G-d seemed to think that yakov was a great guy.
Noach got drunk and the chumash refers to him a an 'ish hadama'
instead of the ish tzadik, which was his earlier title.
Does it make you feel better thinking that yakov was a jerk like the rest of humanity. Yakov had no self control?
Maybe your self esteem needs to lower the avos's standards. G-d didn't feel that way, but you can disagree if it makes you feel better.

12/04/2006 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Jacob Farkas said...


The portion about Qidushin was specifically NOT for P'shuto Shel Miqra purposes, but I already said that the first time around...

Steg's "reading" is mere speculation, that Ya'aqov was duped by Lavan having him be drunk, as opposed to being duped by not recognizing his bride in the dark, as is the Pashut P'shat. Having not been in Haran, I can't vouch that he wasn't, but the Pasuq isn't forcing us to believe he was.

No one is disputing he was duped, Ya'aqov complains to Lavan for his tricking him. The question was how he did it, Steg points out the Mishteh that took place, I point to the Erev/Boqer connection that would have been moot, if the trickery was by way of getting Ya'aqov drunk.


I don't think that anyone is knocking the Avos. Instead of avoiding the question, why do you understand that the Torah felt it necessary to mention the Mishteh that Lavan made?

12/04/2006 8:11 PM  
Blogger tikkunger said...

hey steg i thinks you gave my the wrong coordinates!!!

12/05/2006 6:29 PM  
Blogger yingerman said...

We learn appropriate behaviour from the avos and co

From noah: to pray even for a lost cause
From Avrohom: to listen to ones even if it hurts
from Sara: every minute can be spritual
from Yitzchok: love is blind
From rivka: to ask the kallah if she agrees to the shiduch
from yakov :bribery works!
from leah: prayer works
from rochel: logic has a long shadow
OK I know you dont like all of em I just made half of them up as i typed
Even lavan knew that every kallah gets a seuda and sheva brachos

12/06/2006 6:43 PM  
Blogger Yehuda said...

Steg, very nice observation. Consider the following parallel:
ח וַיִּגְדַּל הַיֶּלֶד, וַיִּגָּמַל; וַיַּעַשׂ אַבְרָהָם מִשְׁתֶּה גָדוֹל, בְּיוֹם הִגָּמֵל אֶת-יִצְחָק. ט וַתֵּרֶא שָׂרָה אֶת-בֶּן-הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית, אֲשֶׁר-יָלְדָה לְאַבְרָהָם--מְצַחֵק. י וַתֹּאמֶר, לְאַבְרָהָם, גָּרֵשׁ הָאָמָה הַזֹּאת, וְאֶת-בְּנָהּ: כִּי לֹא יִירַשׁ בֶּן-הָאָמָה הַזֹּאת, עִם-בְּנִי עִם-יִצְחָק.

It seems quite possible that Yishmael being m'tzacheiq is connected to the mishte.

(I am also known as Yehuda from Far Rockaway)

12/14/2006 8:59 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Dude, it appears that you are still in Hharan.

Must've been one hell-of-a shidduch drinkerei.

Now, push away those empty bottles, thank your hosts, freshen up a bit, and please, PLEASE head over to Miketz's place.... we're having a welcome party for a bunch of out of towners, all brothers, who've come to buy some of that grain surplus we've been talking about for years. It's gonna be a great shindig - they look like they're loaded, and there will be wine. You should see the boss' special goblet, too! A show-off piece to da max!

[Hint, hint, hint.]

12/15/2006 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Random Girl said...

Everyone talking about how dark it was is welcome to go out into the country during full moon sometime. May I recommend the Golan Heights to the north or some beautiful Israeli desert, or even upstate NY.
Folks - you can READ by the light of a full moon, and even at the end of the month when there's no moon, the stars' glow is stunningly beautiful and helpful in recognizing the person sitting across from you.
T.A. Edison must have done all too well with you city folks, who think that only by the miracle of electricity people can see at night. Get out to the country and see some real magic.

Yishar koach on the dvar Torah.

12/18/2006 10:43 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Random Girl:

thanks for pointing that out to everyone!

12/18/2006 10:51 AM  

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