Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 123a - The Jewish Home

Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 123a - The Jewish Home

Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 123a R. Helbo enquired of R. Samuel b. Nahmani: What [reason] did Jacob see for taking away the birthright from Reuben and giving it to Joseph? What did he see? [Surely] it is written, Forasmuch as he defiled his father's couch! But, [this is the question]: What [reason] did he see for giving it to Joseph? Let me give you a parable. This thing may be compared to a host who brought up an orphan at his house. After a time that orphan became rich and declared: I would let the host have [some] benefit from my wealth, He said unto him: But had not Reuben sinned, [Jacob] would not have bestowed upon Joseph any benefit at all? But R. Jonathan your master did not say so. The birthright, [he said], should have emanated from Rachel, as it is written, These are the generations of Jacob, Joseph, but Leah anticipated [her with her prayers for] mercy. On account, [however], of the modesty, which was characteristic of Rachel, the Holy One, blessed he He, restored it to her. What [was it that caused] Leah to anticipate her with [her supplications for] mercy? It is written And the eyes of Leah were weak. What [is meant by] weak? If it is suggested [that the meaning is that her eyes were] actually weak, [is this, it may be asked,] conceivable? [If] Scripture did not speak disparagingly of an unclean animal, for it is written, of the clean beasts, and of the beasts that are not clean, [would] Scripture speak disparagingly of the righteous? But, said R. Eleazar, [the meaning of rakkoth is] that her bounties were extensive.

1 Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 123a Rab said: [Her eyes were] indeed actually weak, but that was no disgrace to her but a credit; for at the crossroads she heard people saying: Rebecca has two sons, [and] Laban has two daughters; the elder [daughter should be married] to the elder [son] and the younger [daughter should be married] to the younger [son]. And she sat at the crossroads and inquired: How does the elder one conduct himself? [And the answer came that he was] a wicked man, a highway robber. How does the younger man conduct himself? A quiet man dwelling in tents. And she wept until her eyelashes dropped. And this accounts for the Scriptural text, And the Lord saw that Leah was hated. What [could be the meaning of] hated? If it is suggested [that it means that she was] actually hated, [surely] it may be retorted, is this] conceivable? [If] Scripture did not speak disparagingly of an unclean animal, [would] it speak disparagingly of the righteous? But the [meaning is this]: The Holy One, blessed be He, saw that Esau's conduct was hateful to her, so he opened her womb. 2

Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 123a Wherein did Rachel's modesty lie? It is written, And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother and that he was Rebecca's son. Was he not the son of her father's sister? But he said to her, [Will] you marry me? [And] she replied to him, Yes, but father is a sharper, and you will not he able [to hold your own against] him. Wherein, he asked her, does his sharp dealing lie? I have, she said, a sister who is older than I, and he will not allow me to be married before her I am his brother, he said to her, in sharp dealing. But, she said to him, may the righteous indulge in sharp dealing? Yes, [he replied]. With the pure, [Scripture says], Thou dost show thyself pure, and with the crooked Thou dost show thyself subtle. [Thereupon] he entrusted her [with certain identification] marks. While Leah was being led into [the bridal chamber] she thought, my sister will now be disgraced, [and so] she entrusted her [with] these very [marks]. And this accounts for the Scriptural text, And it came to pass in the morning that, behold, it was Leah, which seems to imply that until then she was not Leah! But, [this is the explanation]: On account of the [identification] marks which Jacob had entrusted to Rachel who had entrusted them to Leah, he knew not [who] she [was] until that moment. 3

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