Rabbi Fohrman gave a midrash for Tish B’Av called “The Power of Rachel’s Tears”. The insights given regarding the relationship of Rachel and Leah were very eye opening. Rachel is the matriarch of the sons of Yosef. Leah is the matriarch for the sons of Yehudah/Judah. I saw in this midrash a picture of both houses represented by the matriarchs. In Genesis 30, we see Reuben going to the field to pick doodaim (many English translations say love apples or some type of aphrodisiac). If we focus on what these were, we will lose the meaning of Rachel’s gesture to her older sister. First Rachel asks for them, but then she stops herself from asking any more and instead asks her sister to go and lay with Jacob and spend the night with him. Notice the ensuing events. Instead of Jacob having a surprise like what happened on his wedding night, he knew this time who he was laying with. After this incident, we no longer see rivalry taking place between these sisters. What happened? I believe what happened here is a lesson for the Sons of Yosef during these 40 days of repentance. Rachel chose to put all envy and resentment aside because of her barrenness. In doing so, we later see Rachel’s closed womb opened and the subsequent birth of Yosef. Israel can also be looked at as a womb. Since we are in exile, we are not in the “womb”, so we essentially are barren. We have been jealous of our older brothers in the Land. Because of this we have even acted in rivalry by pursuing “knowledge” that attempts to elevate us above our older brothers, thus creating an offense. In our repentance, shall our barrenness come to an end? Will the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob this time again deliver the Sons of Yosef to the womb of Israel? Has He delayed in fulfilling His covenant because we have not repented of our envy, resentment, and treatment of our brother Yehudah as a rival?
We all take great comfort in our knowledge that we are fine, upstanding people; good citizens, pleasant neighbors, loving and generous members of our community. That is wonderful; but it is all external behavior. Sure, it is fueled mostly by internal goodness and purity. What about the parts of you that your neighbors, family, community do not see?
“For let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or evildoer or as a troublemaker.”
(1 Peter 4:15, NKJV)
Let us be completely rid of all ungodliness.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; renew in me a resolute spirit.”
(Psalm 51:10, CJB)