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In the Sefer Chumash HaMagiddim on Parshas VaYetze [p.242…] there is a very inspirational lecture from Rabbi Yaacov Galinsky, shlita which this is based on.
We find that after Leah had six sons, she was pregnant with the seventh son. Since she knew that there would only be 12 tribes she calculated that since the two maidservants had 4 [2 each], if she would have 7 that would leave only 1 for her sister Rachel. This would be disgraceful as Rachel would have less than the maidservants. So she prayed and it changed to a female and she was named Dinah. [Bereishis 30:21in Rashi from Berachos 60a].
This was a tremendous sacrifice that Leah had done for her sister Rachel, to give up the merit of having another holy Tribe. As much as we understand their holiness, the Matriarchs knew better .
At least she merited a daughter from Yaacov which is also fine and good. One would imagine that such a daughter that was born as a result of Leah’s self sacrifice should merit great blessings and a tremendous Choson-groom.
But what happened?
She gets taken by Shechem a Gentile!!
One can ask at this point a very poignant question. Is this Leah’s reward for her sacrifice? Is this the Nachas-the pleasure Leah is supposed to get from Dinah for her self sacrifice? This is truly a hard question to answer.
However, if we look in “Pirkei DRabi Eliezer,” Chapter 38 it will be revealed to us an amazing thing.
A daughter was born from the union of Shechem and Dinah. Her name was Osnat. She was considered Jewish as her mother was Jewish. Nevertheless, the brothers wanted to kill her so people shouldn’t say there was immorality in the “House of Yaacov.”
Yaacov wrote the Holy Name of Hashem on something and hung it around Osnat’s neck and sent her away. Hashem, who sees everything, sent the
Angel Michoel to take her and bring her down to Mitzrayim-Egypt to the house of Potiphar and his wife. The wife of Potiphar was barren and brought up Osnat as her own daughter. Eventually she married Yoseph.
Yoseph and Osnat had two children, Menashe and Ephraim. They were counted among the 12 tribes. [Bereishis 48:5-see Rashi].
So now we have the amazing answer to our question.
Leah gave up one tribe and gained two tribes Menashe and Ephraim, her great grand children!!
In the beginning, when Leah sacrificed, we don’t see immediate beneficial results. In fact, we see as if she was given a slap. Only much later do we see the final benefit that she merited double.
We learn from all of this that we have to have patience. We won’t always see immediate results for our sacrifices. But if we have patience we may see it at the end. With this future outlook we can make peace with the difficult present.
Sometimes, we have to take into consideration things that happened to our Neshamos-Souls in a different lifetime to get the whole picture.
The Chofetz Chaim (On Torah. p.284), brings the verse in Tehilim 19:10 “…The Judgements of Hashem are true, they are all together righteous.” The simple understanding by many commentaries [Ibn Ezra,Metzudas Dovid] is that they don’t contradict each other, but the Chofetz Chaim explains it in a very novel way.
We know that for sins bein odom l’chaveiro-between man and man Yom Kippur alone will not forgive us. We require personal forgiveness from the one we have wronged. If someone hits his friend and he doesn’t make amends in this world then the soul must return again in a different gilgul-reincarnation to this world to rectify this sin.
Imagine, the Chofetz Chaim says, the pain and anguish that the soul has when it is sentenced to come back down here again [the soul yearns to be next to Hashem, and just when it finally thinks it’s reaching its goal, it is sent down here again. This is tremendous suffering for the soul].
The soul complains to Hashem why He made him rich. The soul blames the haughtiness and chutzpah that accompany wealth as the reason why he hit his friend, and begs not to have to be sent down again.
Finally, when the soul realizes that inevitably it must come down to rectify the sin of hitting his friend, it pleads for special consideration. It begs to be sent down as a poor person with a broken spirit, or to be born without a hand, so that it will prevent him from hitting his friend again.
This causes a great upheaval in the Heavenly Court. The Prosecutor does not agree. He claims that in order to make amends properly, the neshomo has to come down in the exact same situation it had before. It has to be rich and with two arms in order to go through the same test again. Finally, after much praying, pleading, beseeching, and a number of advocates who spoke on the soul’s behalf, its request was granted. It was sent down as a poor man or without an arm.
Yet, when the soul gets here, it remembers nothing of the previous episode. When it is born poor or handicapped, instead of thanking Hashem for listening to its request, it complains to Hashem about the unfairness of its situation. It forgot completely how hard it worked till it “persuaded” Hashem to create it with this situation, to insure that he wouldn’t hit his friend.
This is what the posuk in Tehillim means, that in order to see the truth in Hashem’s judgments, one must see the whole story all together. When one knows what occurred before he was sent down, how he begged Hashem to create him in this situation, then it will be obvious to him that Hashem’s judgments are true and his poverty or handicap were a tremendous merit for him.
There is a beautiful thought from the Chasam Sofer which I heard from Rabbi Yissochor Frand, about this point.
The posuk in Ki Sisa (Shmos 33: 23) says, that Hashem told Moshe, ". . . . And you will see "Achorai"- My back, "Upanai" - My front you will not see". The Chasam Sofer points out that there are many events that look quite bad when they actually occur. We wonder why Hashem is doing this. Only much later do we sometimes see how this event led to a whole chain of events that ultimately led to a tremendous good for Klal Yisroel. Then we realize in retrospect that the first event was really good.
This, he said, can be alluded to in the posuk "Upanai - My front", - before that final event (that clarifies the first event) occurs then "we will not see" - we will not understand its goodness. However "Achorai" - My back", - when you see much later the great event that it led to, "you will see. . . ", you will then understand in retrospect why the first event was necessary.
When I looked up the Chasam Sofer I saw that he uses the story of Purim as an example.
He points out that when we look at the death of Vashti which caused the taking of Esther as Queen, it raises the obvious question. Why did Hashem cause Esther to be taken as Queen to this Goyishe King where she will be defiled?
Years later we discover that it was very necessary. It put Esther into a key position to help bring salvation to Klal Yisroel.
I will conclude with a related story from Rabbi Benjamin Blech, which I saw on Aish.Com.
“Thirty years ago in the middle of giving a lecture to my class at Yeshiva University I was suddenly called out due to "a life-and-death emergency.” One of my students was threatening to commit suicide in his dormitory room and desperately needed some counseling.
I rushed over and found the young man wailing and moaning. “This is the worst day of my life!” he screamed, “I don't want to go on living anymore.” Slowly the story poured out of him. His girlfriend had just broken up with him and he was inconsolable. “You don't understand, Rabbi. I'll never ever find anyone like her. I'll never meet someone as perfect as she is. I can't go on, I just want to die.”
I stayed with my student all day, as well as the following night. I tried to reassure him that his life was not over. By morning I finally got him to promise me not to give up on his future. He agreed that suicide is a sin and that he'd struggle to go on, even though it pained him to lose what he was certain was his only possibility for happiness.
A little over 20 years later I was teaching in my very same classroom when there was a knock on the door. A young man asked permission to enter and then, with a smile, asked, “Rabbi, do you remember me?”
It took but a moment for me to realize who it was. “Of course I recognize you,” I told him, “and you still owe me a night’s sleep.”
The young man returned to tell me the end of the story. “You know that day when I wanted to commit suicide and I told you it was the worst day of my life? In retrospect I now realize that day was really the luckiest day of my life. The girl I thought I couldn't live without -- she's been involved in drugs and a series of scandals that even hit the newspapers. My life would have been a horror had we stayed together. I came back to thank you Rabbi, because today I am married to a woman who is truly the best in the world and we have four amazing children who give me joy every single day. I guess what you taught us is true. There are times in life when we mistake blessings for tragedies.”
May Hashem help us to internalize these lessons and we will truly live a happier life in this world and the next.
Rabbi Shlomo Price
1 Hagra Street, Apt. 5
Telz Stone 90840