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ויזכר אלקים את רחל

Hashem remembered Rachel. (30:22)

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Rachel Imeinu was mevater, relinquished, that which she deserved in order to preserve her sister’s esteem. If Yaakov Avinu would have discovered that Leah had been exchanged for Rachel, it would have posed an embarrassing situation for Leah. To spare her the shame, Rachel gave up what was hers. Horav Yeruchem Levovitz, zl, adds that Rachel’s actions to spare her sister from humiliation also breached the trust Yaakov had in her. The Patriarch knew that Lavan was a swindler who would find some way to break his word at the very last moment. Thus, he made a pact with Rachel, giving her special signs which only she would know. Rachel shared those simanim with Leah. Rachel gave up everything – her husband, her self-respect, her position in Matriarchal status – all so that her sister would not feel the pain of humiliation.

When Horav Itzele Ponovezher, zl, left Yeshivas Slabodka, the Rosh Yeshivah, Horav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zl, reverently called the Alter m’Slabodka, was challenged with finding a Rosh Yeshivah to fill his shoes. He turned to Horav Isser Zalman Meltzer, zl, who, although young in years, had developed a reputation as a brilliant mind whose analytic rendering of the subject matter was without peer. Rav Isser Zalman considered the position, then demurred because he felt it would cause his mother-in-law, the widow of Rav Feivel Frank, undue pain. Apparently, his brother-in-law, Horav Moshe Mordechai Epstein, zl, who was the oldest son-in-law, had yet to assume a rabbinical leadership position. Rav Moshe Mordechai was a brilliant Torah scholar who simply had not connected with the right position. He did not want to cause his mother-in-law any undue ill will. Thus, Rav Isser Zalman suggested to the Alter that he hire both himself and Rav Moshe Mordechai as Roshei Yeshivah. The Alter agreed, and the two brothers-in-law reigned as Slabodka’s Roshei Yeshivah. After a few years, it became obvious to Rav Isser Zalman that he and Rav Moshe Mordechai had disparate approaches toward elucidating the sugya, Talmudic topic, and, since two kings do not reign as one, he offered to leave. It was exactly at that point that the opportunity to open a branch of Slabodka availed itself in the city of Slutzk. Rav Isser Zalman left to establish the Slutzker Yeshivah. His vatranus led to his imbuing with his Torah such talmidim as his future son-in-law, Horav Aharon Kotler, zl, and Horav Elazar M. Shach, zl, two individuals responsible for the burgeoning of Torah both in America and Eretz Yisrael; two gaonim, who each became the gadol hador, preeminent Torah giant of his respective generation.

Horav Aryeh Levin, zl, was the chazzan, led the services, during the Yamim Noraim in the Zaharei Chamah, vasikin minyan, in Yerushalayim.  One year, the board informed him that a relative of the shul’s largest donor was coming to the Holy Land. The donor wanted this relative to lead the services. Without the funds contributed by this donor, the shul would suffer. Rav Aryeh was upset, but he could do nothing about it. He went to speak with his Rebbe, the Leshem, Horav Shlomo Elyashiv, zl, who told him, “The pain you suffer in this world is greatly beneficial for the soul.” When Rav Aryeh returned home, he found two students who had recently emigrated to Eretz Yisrael from Slabodka. They had established a small group of yeshivah students who were paving the way for the yeshivah’s branch in Chevron. Would he do them the honor of leading the services on Yamim Noraim? This was the beginning of the famed nusach, melody, sung in Chevron for years to come, which was amalgamated with the nusach made famous by Horav Sholom Schwadron, zl. One never loses out due to being mevater.

Horav Simchah Shlomo Levin, zl (youngest son of Rav Aryeh) asked why it had taken so long before Rachel Imeinu was rewarded by Hashem for her act of yielding to her sister. By the time Rachel had her first child, Leah had already given birth to six of her own, which were supplemented by the two sons of Zilpah, her maidservant. Her unprecedented action of forgoing her right to marriage to save her sister from humiliation should have generated an earlier reward. Rachel had suffered enough.

Rav Levin explains that, upon occasion, one may elevate himself to the point that he places his fellow’s need before his own. This, however, is not an indication of his innate personality. Only after a considerable period of time elapses – and he continues supporting his act of vatranus – does his/her true nature emerge and come to the fore. Rachel Imeinu acted in a manner that earned her accolades and served as a merit to protect the Jewish nation in later times. Her patience and forbearance added to her vatranus to make it shine, such that it became her hallmark.


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