Aliya Summary: Lavan had two daughters, the aforementioned Rachel, and her older sister Leah. Jacob loved Rachel and offered to serve Lavan for seven years in exchange for her hand in marriage. Lavan accepted the deal. After the seven years of service passed, Jacob asked Lavan to make good on his word. Lavan arranged a wedding feast, but switched daughters, giving Leah instead of Rachel. When Jacob protested, Lavan offered to give Rachel too—in exchange for another seven years of service. One week later Jacob married Rachel, and began serving an additional seven years. Leah gave birth to four children – Reuven, Simon, Levi, and Judah – but Rachel remained barren. Rachel and Leah both gave their handmaids to Jacob as concubines. Rachel’s maid, Bilhah, bore two children – Dan and Naftali – and Leah’s maid also bore two children—Gad and Asher.
Sources indicate that it was Rachel who facilitated the switch, motivated by love and compassion for her sister. Rachel gave her private “signals” to Leah in order to save her from a probable marriage to Esav, Yitzchak’s biological elder son. This compassion of Rachel’s serves her descendants well many years later,when she “intercedes” before G-d following the destruction of the Temple. Tradition tells us that G-d “softened” the punishment with a promise of return from exile only after Rachel pleaded before Him. The Avot and Moshe had not similarly succeeded in their pleas on behalf of the people.