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A reflection on the suffering of women.

This week we read the Torah portion of Vayeitzei (“and he went out”) in Genesis. Jacob sought a wife. The trickster Laban tells him he can marry Rachel the younger if he will work for him for seven years. At the last minute, Leah the older is shoved into the bridal chamber. Then, Jacob winds up marrying Rachel anyway.

Down the line, it is Leah’s daughter Dinah who “goes out” (implying that she is promiscuous) and gets raped by Shechem, shaming the entire family and leading brothers Simeon and Levi to carry out a massive slaughter to avenge the family’s honor.

My heart breaks for Leah. But I am also awed at her strength. She doesn’t run away from her family. She doesn’t act nasty. She doesn’t fall into sinful, self-pitying ways.

Leah is the model for how to act when life piles on you. She focuses on being productive, bearing and rearing children who will serve as the tribal foundations of the Jewish people.

Leah’s son Judah is the forefather of King David, who in turn is the progenitor of the Messiah.

In her lifetime Leah suffered a certain humiliation. But her eternal legacy is one of sheer and unmitigated greatness.

We are defined by the quality of our behavior. Not by the dirt which people throw at us.

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal (Dossy). All opinions are the author’s own. Text is hereby released into the public domain. Photo, not public domain, free via Pexels by kenan zhang. Link: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-newborn-baby-lying-on-her-mother-s-chest-13071790/

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