MY Cookie!

When Leah was expecting her 7th child, she realized that there may be a problem. If her child would be a son, the result would be that Rachel would only be the mother of 1 of the 12 shevatim (tribes), which would be less than even the maidservants, Bilah and Zilpah, who each already had 2 children. Leah therefore fervently prayed to Hashem for a baby girl and even went so far as to ask Him that if she was indeed pregnant with a son, Hashem should please change the baby to a daughter instead. Hashem answered Leah’s selfless prayers and a daughter named Dinah was born to her (Rashi 30:21, citing Berachos 60a).

One would expect that Hashem would reward Leah for her self-sacrifice and that great things would come from Dinah. After all, Leah sacrificed mothering another shevet in order to help her sister. Instead, it seems that not only did she not see greatness from Dinah, she rather saw great misfortune. Dinah was later violated by the evil Shechem, and other than that horrible episode, there is no further mention of her in the Torah. How could Hashem reward Leah’s kind deed with such tragedy and offer her no reward? Where is the Divine justice?

We can answer this by addressing another question. The Ba’al Haturim points out that the last letters of the very first 3 words in the Torah can be rearranged to spell the words “emes”, the Hebrew word for “truth”. Why did Hashem specifically choose the ending letters to spell out the word truth? Wouldn’t have been more appropriate for the first letters to do so - as it states in Tehillim: "Rosh devarecha emes" - the beginning of Your word is truth (Tehillim 119:160)? (Rest assured, G-d is more than capable of maintaining the message of the Torah in a format that would spell the word “truth” in the first letters).  

A woman from out of town who was not particularly fond of New Yorker’s, found herself in a New York airport when she needed to fly to a close relative’s wedding. Having a fear of flying, she went to a kiosk in the airport and purchased a bottle of water and bag of her favorite cookies to calm her nerves. She then sat down by her gate, put the shopping bag with her cookies and water beneath her seat, and waited for her flight. After a few minutes went by, a stranger sat beside her, reached down, and picked up her bag of cookies. Without a moment's hesitation, he opened the bag and audaciously began to partake of them. The woman was horrified. Now, the woman had heard rumors about New Yorker’s manners, but this was ridiculous! She quickly composed herself and decided to send a strong hint to her thief that he had accidentally taken her bag of cookies. “Excuse me”, she said, and then reached into her bag of cookies and took one. The obvious hint had not worked - the boorish man continued to eat from her bag of cookies. Next thing she knew, it was a battle for control; each time she ate a cookie, the rude stranger dug his hand into the bag and took one for himself. The “battle” continued until there was only one final cookie left. The woman made a quick grab for it, but she was too late; the man was already holding it. The man looked her in the eye, split the cookie in half, and said with an obnoxious smile “let’s split it”. The woman took the half cookie she was handed and had to use all her strength to not publicly berate him with all of her fury. Suddenly, it was time for boarding the plane. Without giving the obnoxious New Yorker a second glance, she briskly stood up, grabbed the shopping bag beneath her seat, and boarded the plane. As she sat down in her assigned seat on the plane, she still had a hard time calming herself. “What time of rude low-life would do such a thing?!”, she thought to herself. As the plane took off, she reached into her shopping bag so that she could at least enjoy her bottle of water. She was startled by what she found: her bottle of water, as well as her bag of cookies, still sealed and intact. Apparently, that man had the same bag of cookies and it was she who had been obnoxiously stealing from him the whole time!! In that one instant of clarity, she realized that she had been in the wrong all along, and the “rude low-life” had apparently had the best character she had ever seen. He had even split his very last cookie with her, his thief.

Sometimes one may view an incident with "absolute certainty", only to later discover with an added piece of information that he had the whole story backward! Often, such is the reality of our own view on world events in contrast to the clear understanding of Hashem’s. The reason why Hashem specifically used the last letters to spell “truth, and not the first ones, is because often in This World one does not perceive the Divine Truth of Hashem’s actions until the very end.

True, Dinah was violated by Shechem, but that is not the end of the story. Interestingly enough, the child born from that union was later adopted by Ashes Potifera, Yosef’s master in Egypt, and eventually married Yosef HaTzadik. The result of that marriage later awarded Leah, the proud grandmother, with not just one shevet, but TWO of them: Menashe and Ephraim. Hashem had rewarded her self-sacrifice with a double portion*!

Living Inspired

Although we often don’t get to see Hashem’s Master Plan, it is important to take to heart the times that we do and use them to internalize that Hashem has a masterful plan behind everything. When Moshiach comes, the Sages teach us that we will laugh with surprise and happiness when Hashem explains to us how each and every occurrence in our lives was filled with purpose and goodness. There is not a moment in our lives that is not orchestrated down to the very last detail. When things seem to be going "wrong", instead of losing ourselves, questioning Hashem, or jumping to conclusions like the woman in the story, may we all maintain perfect composure throughout our lives and merit to enjoy the ending, when everything becomes clear that things weren’t as bad as they seem; on the contrary, everything was always going according to Hashem’s carefully laid and benevolent plans.  


*- Although we may still not fully understand why Hashem felt it necessary for Menashe and Ephraim to descend from that horrible act of Shechem, at least we can observe that there is much more plan, purpose and good in everything Hashem does than meets the eye. Alternatively, the sefer “Mimamakim” actually offers an explanation: he states that Hashem did so in order for Moshiach ben Yosef to emerge from the lowest depths, similar to the way that Moshiach ben Yehuda came from his union with his daughter-in-law Tamar and from the union of Lot and his daughter. The purpose of Moshiach coming from such depths was in order to illustrate that ANY Jewish soul is truly capable of reaching the highest levels of spirituality and achievement, no matter what their humble beginnings may be.