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Pinchas: The Love Between Jacob and Leah

“Reuven, the eldest of Israel, the sons of Reuven, Chanoch, החֲנֹכִי    the Chanochi family, to Falu, the family of Falui…these are the families of Reuven.”

The letters yud-hei were added to all the names of the families of the tribes. As above, the Chanochi family, which is the name Chanoch with a hei added at the beginning and a yud added at the end. Rashi explains that this is a testimony to the kosher family status of the Children of Israel, even when they were enslaved in Egypt: “The tribes of Y-ah (yud hei), testimony to Israel”. The holy Name yud-hei seals their names as a testimony.

This sign appears on all the names of the families, but only appears on the names of three of the tribes: the Reuveni, the Shimoni, the Zvuluni. A hei is added at the beginning of those names and a yud is added to the end of those names. Why did those three tribes, specifically, need the seal of kosher family status?

On the surface, the marital relations from which Reuven was born were blemished, for Jacob’s thoughts that night were on Rachel. Thus, it must be acknowledged that nonetheless, the Divine Presence rests upon those relations. On an inner level, this was possible as Jacob gave himself over to God and directed his actions according to however God would have events play out, including those events that were beyond the realm of his knowledge.

Shimon received a yud-hei “for G-d heard that I am hated”. This would seem to create a blemish in the marital relations between Jacob and Leah, from which Shimon was born. (“The children of the hated”). For this reason, the yud-hei seal of kosher family status must be added to Shimon’s name, to acknowledge the fact that hatred was not really involved, God forbid.

Zvulun is the last of Leah’s sons. Even when her sixth son was born, Jacob still preferred Rachel. Nevertheless, the sons of Leah are quintessentially kosher and part of Jacob’s family.

Now for some beautiful allusions to the love between Jacob and Leah expressed in these three names: Reuven Shimon Zevulun = “ואהבת לרעך כמוך“(”Love your companion as yourself”)!   In addition, the average value of the first letters of the three names  Reuven Shimon Zevulun equals ahavah (love) squared. Reuven is Jacob’s first son (alef), Shimon is the second (beit) and Zevulun is the tenth (yud). Alef-beit-yud equals ahavah (love).

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