This week’s parashah tells us that Jacob ran away from his family’s home because he feared that Esau would kill him after Jacob tricked their father into giving him the blessing, the blessing that should have been given to Esau.
Jacob, our patriarch, reached Haran, where his mother’s family lived. He saw Rachel there, and it was love at first sight. It is written in the Torah: “Jacob kissed Rachel and broke into tears.” (Bereshit 29: 11). He was so excited to find the love of his life that he cried with emotion.
After that, Jacob made an agreement with Laban, Rachel’s brother. Jacob would work for him seven years in order to marry Rachel. The Torah says, “Jacob loved Rachel so answered, ‘I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel” (Genesis 29:18).
This verse is very special, given that there are few places in the Torah that use the verb ‘to love’ between a man and a woman. We could say that Jacob was the first romantic lover to appear in the Torah.
The parashah tells us that Jacob worked for Laban for seven years, as he had promised, and the text adds a very interesting quote: “Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” (Idem, 20).
Jacob loved Rachel so much that he didn’t realize how hard he had worked and the time passed quickly. Despite the fact that Laban cheated him, giving Jacob Leah instead of Rachel, Jacob decided to work another seven years to marry his beloved Rachel. His love for Rachel made Jacob’s life happy and meaningful.
Thinking about the love between Rachel and Jacob, it is interesting to note that in Judaism, in contrast to other traditions, ascetism and celibacy are not cherished values.