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Was Jacob punished for making Leah feel Zanua?


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Nisan 4, 5772
I know that Jacob had many tragedies befall him in his life. I was wondering if any of these had to do with Jacob making Leah feel hated (or unloved)? Its a questions that always bothered me. Aliza
The Torah does not say Ya'acov hated and therefore possibly warranting a punishment as you suggested. The Torah uses the passive that she was hated, yet it does not say by whom and to what measure. Some commentators therefore say that it does not mean she was actually hated, he actually loved her. Though, in comparison to Rachel who was Ya'akov's first choice, she was less desired. (Radak). The Or Hachaim offers a novel explanation based on the Midrash. The Midrash says that many thought that just as the younger sister Rachel is meant for Ya'akov, so too the older sister leah is meant for the "hated" Esav. Since she was meant for the hated Esav, she was also called "hated". This explanation fits in well with the continuation of the Passuk which says that Hashem opened her womb. For if Hashem had not opened her womb, people would have thought that the "hated" is indeed not meant for Ya'akov, therefore she has no offspring. However, I feel the Ramban's explanation is closest to the pshat. Ya'akov actually hated her, but justifiably so. The hate was not because of her being childless until then but because she had deceived Ya'akov. Even if you were to blame Lavan for placing Le'ah instead of Rachel, she could have said something to Ya'akov to let him know. The Midrash Rabba actually says that Ya'akov considered divorcing her due to this behavior. That is the meaning of "G=d saw," meaning G-D saw the situation and created a situation to endear her to Ya'akov. Upon seeing his children from Leah, the Midrash quotes Ya'akov as saying "How can I divorce the mother of these children." To sum up, the commentators did not see Ya'akov as the one who is at fault for Leah being hated. In light of these explanations there was no justification to punish Ya'akov
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