Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tears Of Anguish


And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother ... Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. Bereshit 29:10-11

Jacob wept tears of anguish, not joy, "when it came to pass" that Jacob saw Rachel for the first time. We know this through the construct of the Hebrew phrase "and it came to pass" (וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר).

The word ויהי implies anguish [1]. Jacob is anguished at the sight of Rachel. Moreover, he is anguished to the measure that he should have been blissful.

One would expect Jacob to be joyful at the first sight of his beloved, at finding his bashert, but he is not. He is anguished. So anguished, in fact, is Jacob that he weeps.

Why this anguish? Why not joy?

I posit that Jacob couldn't truly see Rachel. Instead, he saw her as the daughter of Laban, as an extension of her father. Jacob failed to perceive Rachel's Divine Spark, which would have evoked tears of joy from him. Instead, he perceived her as less than she truly is, and wept tears of anguish.

Jacob's limited perception of Rachel has negatively affected history ever since.


[1] The Wisdom In The Hebrew Alphabet, Michael Munk