Picture of the author
Picture of the author

Why Did Yaakov Get Angry at his Beloved Wife Rachel? 4 Perspectives

How the Cracks In Your Life Can Become the Gate of Heaven

Class Summary:

The opening of the thirtieth chapter of Genesis relates a small but disturbing scene. The infertile Rachel tells her husband: "Give me children, and if not, I am dead." And Jacob became angry with Rachel, and he said, "Am I instead of God, Who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

Jacob’s response seems painfully insensitive and uncharacteristic of their affectionate bond. He is in love with Rachel. Any experienced and loving husband knows that even in a good day when your wife conveys an emotion about something eating up on her, the last think you do is get angry at her! What she wants from you is an attentive ear and a receptive heart. That itself makes her feel better. Certainly if she is expressing her pain over a real and deep wound. Jacob’s response is baffling and disturbing.

Today we will present four approaches—one from the Midrash, the second from a medieval Jewish philosopher, the third from the Munkatcher Rebbe, and the fourth from the Ramban and the world of Chassidus.

The Midrash opens up its commentary on the portion of Vayeitzei by attributing Psalm 121 to Jacob on his journey to Haran. Psalms 121 begins with a description of a distraught narrator, who wonders “from where will my salvation come?” Jacob despaired. The Midrash says: Jacob said to himself: “What?! I will give up hope from my Creator? I will never give up hope! My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!”

But what does this mean? Did Jacob really give up hope? Just because he was destitute and penniless, he fell into such despair? This is the man who would carry on the covenant of Abraham and Isaac—did he really forget about G-d? Also, his words seem repetitious: “What? I will give up hope from my Creator? I will never give up hope!” He should have just said: “I will never give up hope!” Why the question and the answer?

It was the great Chassidic master, the Chidushei Harim (Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Alter, the first Gerer Rebbe, (1799 - 1866)), who gave a stunning explanation. I would venture to add that knowing the life story of this man makes the explanation far more poignant.

This women's class was presented on Tuesday, Parshas Vayetzei, 5 Kislev, 5780, December 3, 2019 at the Ohr Chaim Shul, Monsey, NY

Please leave your comment below!

  • E

    Efraim -4 years ago

    היונגער רבי הרה"ק ר' אשר ז"ל שלא היה לו ילדים הרבה שנים הגיע לאביו האלטער רבי הרה"ק ר' אהרן ז"ל יום אחד ואמר לו שהוא הוושע (ער איז א געהאלפינער) והסביר את עצמו, היום הפרופסור אמר לו "כמו שיצמח שיער בכף היד כך יוולד לך ילדים", ואם כך נשאר הכל רק לה' והכל יכול.
    ואכן כך נולד הפראנקפוטער הרה"ק ר' ישראל ז"ל 
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Y

    Yehuda -4 years ago

    Thanks for your wonderful shiurim, so many of your messages hit home, constantly reminding me / us of my / our potential / and the strength we have to dictate our lives in the best way possible,
    For a long time already I've been feeling and also sharing with those around me that one of the most rewarding moments of my / our day / lives is - when experiencing a tough time be it financial / emotional / physical or any other challenge, I do all my hishtadlus to deal with the issue but after all said and done I hit a dead end, that realization when I look up at Hashem and say ''Hashem I've done my Hishtadlus, I'm letting go and I totally trust you will take care of me'' , that 5 sec mental note / realization is a wow moment, almost can feel the boulder roll off my back,
    I listened to your shiur this week and it hit home big time, was very special to hear you articulate it so superbly the feelings I've been having.
    I would appreciate if you could send me the source of that Sfas Emes / any other sources you have on this note

    With much respect
    Good Shabbos,

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • S

    Shmuel -4 years ago

    Just wanted to let you know that when you mentioned the maisah re Rubashkin, youu didn't have the kavannah, but you helped me figure out tiche from the Janis Joplin song, Me and Bobby Magee, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose", and it always bothered me. Thanks!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • G

    Gila -4 years ago

    Thank you for the shiur on Parshas Vayeitzei. I was wondering why you
    discussed whether or not Yaakov Avinu actually spoke to Hashem or intuited an answer from the flow of Divine energy within him. Yaakov Avinu was a navi. One of the ikrei emunah is that Hashem communicated with the neviim to give us guidance. The way I understood what I learned is that this is actual communication, not just finely-tuned intuition. If it says Hashem spoke to him, why can't we just understand that literally?

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • M

    Monica -4 years ago

    I am still euphoric and under the spell of today’s most uplifting, soul-stirring and hartzige shiur.  The diamond studded trees lining the streets on the way home seemed to be the perfect frame for this jewel of a class.

    Our lives are just so enriched. I am trying to think back to what life was like before we were zoche to these shiurim...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Ashreinu ma Tov chelkeinu.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • B

    Beila -4 years ago

    A Jewel

    I am still euphoric and under the spell of today’s most uplifting, soul-stirring and hartzige shiur.  The diamond studded trees lining the streets on the way home seemed to be the perfect frame for this jewel of a class.

    Our lives are just so enriched. I am trying to think back to what life was like before we were zoche to these shiurim...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Ashreinu ma Tov chelkeinu.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -4 years ago

    התחת אלקים אנכי

    לכבוד הגה"ח פה מפיק מרגליות הרב יוסף יצחק שליט"א

    שמוע שמעתי את השיעור הנפלא רציתי להכיר לכם טובה בהוספת נופך עם פירוש חמישי  מה שאמר יעקב אע"ה "התחת אלקים אנכי".

    אמר הרה"ק רבי יהושע מבעלזא זי"ע: אמר עה"פ הבה לי בנים ואם אין מתה אנכי, ואמר לה יעקב התחת אלוקים אנכי וכו' (בראשית ל א), כי אצל הקב"ה, אפילו אם חלילה מסתפק האדם בזה אם השי"ת יכול לעזור לו ג"כ עוזר לו השי"ת, משא"כ אצל צדיק, אם מסופק אם יכול לעזור לו, אז אינו יכול לעזור לו, וכיון שאמרה רחל הבה לי בנים וכו' ואם אין וכו', כאילו שיש הוה אמינא שאינו יכול לעזור לה, על כן אמר לה התחת אלוקים אנכי, פי' כיון שיש לך צד ספק, אזי אין אני כמו השי"ת שיכול לעזור אף באופן כזה, משא"כ אני אינני יכול לעזור באופן זה שאת מסופקת ביכולתי להושיעך:

    (שיח זקנים ח"ג עמ' רג)

    שלמה ז גולדהבר

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • GY

    Grateful Yid -4 years ago

    Great Shiur and Message Rabbi YY

    B"H

    Rabbi YY, this was a great shiur, thank you so much.  You connected Yaaov&Rachel with Yaakov's experience on Har HaBayit; with his wrestling with the angel... and that we are to have hope even in the depths of darkness.  I hope many

    people will see/hear this shiur so this vital message will be transmitted. May Hashem bless and strengthen all your efforts with success b'simcha.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -4 years ago

    Class ever week

    Thank you for coming in the snow and giving your inspiring class. The week is not the same without a class and hearing your inspiring words. It would be awesome if there would be a class every week even if the Tuesday class is cancelled. E-mail's could be sent changing the date of the class to either Wednesday or to Thursday. It would be much appreciated.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • פ

    פינחס -4 years ago

    תודה

    שלום כבוד הרב 
    ברצוני להודות לרב על השיעור אבל אני רוצה להגיד לרב אני יודע שלרב יש כח הדיבור וזה בהחלט מתנה משמיים אבל יש להרבה אנשים את הכח הזה אבל פשוט לא מוציאים מהכח אל הפועל לעומת זאת הרב מוציא מהכח אל הפועל וכל פעם אני מפתעל מחדש איך הרב מסביר את הדברים השם יתברך פשוט נתן לדור שלנו מתנה את כבוד הרב אני רוצה לאחל לכבוד הרב שהשם ימשיך לתת לכבודו כח ותעצומות שכך כולנו נזכה לגדר של טעמו וראו כי טוב השם .
    יישר חיילך לאורייתא. 

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -4 years ago

    The Malbim

    On the 3rd approach.

    The Malbim (In his sefer 'התורה והמצווה' in Parshas Vayetzei, 30:1) writes similar that there was "too much love between them"  and it was necessary for Yaakov to get angry in order for her to become fertile. 

    Truth is Reb pinchas from Koritz preceded him with this idea in his sefer 'אמרי פנחס' in our Parsha that when there's love beyond measure it actually can inhibit the women from child birth and a Segulah is for the husband to have some sort of קפדה about a mitzva.

    Hence the possuk right after Yaakov getting angry says that Rachel became pregnant...

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • I

      isaac -4 years ago

      זה לשון המלבי"ם: "ותרא רחל". רחל חשבה שמה שלא ילדה אינו בסבתה רק בסבת יעקב, עז"א "כי לא ילדה ליעקב", שכבר כתבו חכמי הטבע שהאהבה היתירה תמנע ההולדה לפעמים, או שחשבה כפי מ"ש למעלה שהוא ענין השגחיי מסובב ג"כ מרוב האהבה, כמ"ש וירא ה' כי שנואה לאה ויפתח את רחמה, ולכן "ותקנא רחל באחתה", כי חשבה טוב היה לה שתהיה היא השנואה בלבד שתלד בנים, וע"כ "אמרה ליעקב הבה לי בנים" כי בו הדבר תלוי:

      "התחת אלהים אנכי". ר"ל "המונע ממך פרי בטן הוא אלהים", ולא אני הסבה לזה רק אלהים מנע, ולא מסבתי רק ממך, וא"כ איך תעמיד אותי תחת אלהים להתרעם עלי התרעומות שיש לך על אלהים.

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • M

    Moshe -4 years ago

    Yakov got angry at Rochel saying "Am I Hashem?"

    But before that Rochel had gotten jealous. Looks like the Patriarchs and Matriachs weren't flawless.

    Rochel had said to Yakov: "give me children or I will be (as if, not having children to carry on for me) dead. Can we say that Yakov had not yet tried to "give " her children. Surely he had. Onvioulsly the matter was in Hashem's hands. It wasnt up to him. 

     So what was she asking for? That he daven for her to conceive like Yitzchak and Avraham had when their wives hadn't conceived? Surely he had done that as well.

    If so, there was nothing really to spur Yakov onto that he hadn't done already. It was all in Hashem's hands. If so, then his response is correct in that he was not Hashem, so to speak, to change anything that Hashem was directing or even do anything that he wasn't already doing.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Women's Vayetzei Class

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • December 3, 2019
  • |
  • 5 Kislev 5780
  • |
  • 3479 views

Dedicated by the Sani family, in the loving memory and soul elevation of Rachamin ben Aziz Sani halevi (our father) on his Yahrzeit, 6 Cheshvan. May his soul be at rest in Gan Eden. And in honor of the Sani family and friends, for health, prosperity and success

Related Classes

Please help us continue our work
Sign up to receive latest content by Rabbi YY

Join our WhatsApp Community

Join our WhatsApp Community

Ways to get content by Rabbi YY Jacobson
Connect now
Picture of the authorPicture of the author