Vayetzei: Teacher’s Pet

Don’t Play Favorites

[Jacob] loved Rachel more than Leah… And the Lord saw that Leah was hated… 

Gen. 29:30-31

Rachel was the love of Jacob’s life, but he was tricked by her father Laban into marrying Leah first because “It is not done so in our place to give the younger one before the firstborn.” (Gen. 29:26). Jacob ultimately married both sisters, and loved them both, but he loved Rachel more. The Torah doesn’t say anything about Leah being hated. So why did the Lord see “that she was hated”?

Rav Pam teaches that to Leah, being the unfavored wife felt like she was hated. A legendary leader and educator, Rav Pam finds a cautionary tale here for teachers. Favoring any student over the others, even in a way that seems minor, will cause the other children to feel hated. Teachers influence not just what students learn, but how they feel about themselves. Instilling confidence or insecurity on someone in their formative years can affect them for the rest of their lives, so be careful not to play favorites. 

Image: “Rachel & Leah” by James Tissot (1896)

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