By Rabbi Daniel Travis
In the morning [Yaakov discovered that] it was Leah...
Why didn't Yaakov discover this at night? Had she not been the same Leah at
night as she was in the morning? At night, Yaakov felt he had adequate proof
that she was Rachel, since he had given Rachel certain signs by which he
might recognize her, which they had kept a secret between them. Yet when
Rachel saw that her father was about to marry Leah to Yaakov in her place,
she immediately revealed these signs to Leah, thinking, "I cannot allow my
sister to be put to shame." She spared her sister's honor, although she was
deceiving Yaakov in the process.1
When one of the students of the great Torah sage and Rosh HaYeshivah Rav
Isser Zalman Meltzer was released from the draft, everyone knew that the
news would bring the Rav great joy. At that time, being drafted into the
non-Jewish army meant almost certain death, and in any case it posed nearly
insurmountable problems regarding Torah observance. One by one, his other
students came to inform Rav Meltzer of the news. The Rosh HaYeshivah
responded to each of his students with exactly the same enthusiasm as he had
to the first student who related the news to him.
Although Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer's reaction involved a certain amount of
deception, for he gave each student the impression that he was hearing the
news for the first time, one may do so for the sake of the well-being of
another.2 Since each of his students had taken the time and made the effort
to bring the Rosh HaYeshivah the news, and each would derive tremendous
pleasure from feeling that he had been the first to relate the information,
Rav Meltzer did not want to disappoint any of them.
We all encounter similar situations frequently in our everyday lives. Rav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach said that if someone tells us something that we have
heard before, if we care about the speaker, we will be patient enough to
hear it again, and will act as though we are hearing it for the first time.3
We should not consider this a waste of our time, since, in addition to the
fact that we have gained tremendous merit in showing honor to others, we can
often gain some new insight when we hear something a second time. In
addition, it is a sign of humility to listen to them.4
By the same token, if someone is discussing a personal problem with us,
although the problem may seem trivial, or an immature response, we must
realize that from other's perspective it is a very serious matter, and we
must demonstrate our concern. The Torah teaches us this principle when it
describes the plague of locusts in Egypt: "...before them there were no such
locusts... never after them will there be such [a plague of locusts.]"5
Rashi notes that in the times of the prophet Yoel6 there was a greater
infestation. Since the Egyptians had already been devastated by other
plagues, it was extremely difficult for them to deal with the locusts.
Although there were more locusts in the days of Yoel, according to the
Egyptians' emotional reality, their plague was actually worse than the one
in Yoel's days.7
1. Rashi on Bereshith 29:25.
2. Sha'arei Teshuvah 3:181. See also the article entitled "Masters Of
Disguise," (page 93) on Bereshith 18,2.
3. Cited in Titein Emeth L'Yaakov p. 130.
4. Sefer Chasidim 15.
5. Shemoth 10:14.
6. Yoel 2:2.
7. Chatham Sofer, Shemoth 10:14.
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