Parshas Vayetzei 5773
The posuk describes the appearance of Leah and Rochel. “And the eyes of Leah were weak and Rachel had a beautiful appearance.” The Ohr Hachaim asks why the Torah finds it necessary to point out the negative appearance of Leah.
He answers that the Torah wanted to emphasize how different Leah was from Rachel and that it was ludicrous even to think of exchanging one sister for the other. Even so, Lovon, the swindler that he was, had the audacity to do just that and he gave Leah to Yaakov instead of Rochel
Perhaps we can suggest another answer. The reason Leah’s eyes were weak was neither because she was born that way nor was it a natural development. Rashi explains that Leah brought this imperfection upon herself through the continuous tears she shed. She prayed, pleaded and cried to Hashem that she not end up marrying the wicked Eisov.
Rivkah had two sons, Yaakov and Eisov. Lovon, Rivkah’s brother, had two daughters, Leah and Rochel. People would say; the older daughter for the older son and the younger daughter for the younger son. We must understand that our holy mother Leah was not afraid of the common folk talk, rather, Leah, in the outset, was indeed the destined partner for Eisov. But through her tefilos, through her heartfelt, tearful prayers she was able to change her destiny. She cried to Hashem without abate that she should merit a righteous husband. These prayers were answered and she was able to avoid marrying the wicked Eisov. Not only that, but she was fortunate to marry the great tzadik, Yaakov Ovinu and she even preceded her sister who was originally destined to marry him. What’s more is that Leah is the one who is buried with Yaakov and not Rachel. Ah, the power of Prayer, the power of tears!
Therefore, describing that Leah’s eyes were weak from crying and praying in order that she not marry Eisov is really a compliment. It is describing the intense prayers of our mother Leah which so radically changed her future. Those weak eyes which perhaps made her look unattractive were a sign of greatness. The Torah is pointing out her qualities.
What is more dear to a woman than her beauty? In general, a young woman makes herself look attractive so that she finds a good match but Leah did just the opposite. She gave up her good looks in tearful prayers so that she should get a good shidduch (match). Leah was willing to give up her attractive looks in order that she should merit marrying the right person with which to serve Hashem. Perhaps every time she looked in the mirror and saw those unattractive eyes she would have a feeling of fulfillment thinking, look what I was willing to do in order to merit Yaakov Ovinu as a husband.
The Chofetz Chaim, in his sefer Mishnah Berura, tells the story of the Rabbi of Hamburg, Reb Zalman Mirlesh. The Rabbi was on his way to shull one morning when he was approached by a man who wanted to sell him precious stones. Reb Zalman told him he would have to wait until after he came back from shull. The man, meanwhile, sold the stones to someone else who went on to make a very large profit. When the Hamburger Rov heard how much money he turned down in order to daven (pray) with a minyan (quorum) he rejoiced greatly.
The value of mitzvos rise in accordance to the difficulty they involve, as it says in Pirkei Ovos; according to the pain is the reward. The more we give up for a mitzvah the more valuable the mitzvah becomes. The Hamburger Rov was excited that he had attached a great price tag to the mitzvah of davening with a minyan. Rather than concentrate on the financial loss, he contemplated the spiritual gain.