Monday, June 2, 2008

Are you a Rochel or a Leah?

I heard the following breakdown of the two basic personality types from my rebbe. There are "Rochels" and there are "Leahs." I think of these often when I am trying to charactarize aspects of myself and others. They interconnect with so many other aspects of Yiddishkeit and this is another reason I find them so fascinating.

Rochels (this could be men or women) are those people who always seem to have everything together. They seem to always be organized, look put-together, and they have a kind of stability in their Yiddishkeit and in life in general. This is alluded to in the pasuk which creates the distinction between Rochel and Leah. "וְעֵינֵי לֵאָה, רַכּוֹת; וְרָחֵל, הָיְתָה, יְפַת-תֹּאַר, וִיפַת מַרְאֶה." (Breishis 29:17) "And Leah's eyes were soft [but] Rochel was beautiful of form and beautiful of appearance." Rochels have the outer beauty of a beautiful and stable Jewish life. The "Rochel personality" cooresponds to the mida of Chochma (Wisdom), to the tzad zachar (the masculine side) and to Yosef Hatzadik. This is, of course, why she's the mother of Yosef Hatzadik.

Leahs on the other hand are people who aren't as externally perfect as the Rochels. We're the ones who struggle mightily to grow at every stage. Constant stability is not our forte. Because we're always struggling to grow to the next level, we often times have periods of major growth and accomplishment. However, because it's such a struggle, we also have much bigger nefilos (fallings) as well. The Rochels may do fewer things wrong. But in their beautiful stability and steadfastness, they also don't accomplish as much. The mida of Leah cooresponds to the mida of Bina (insight). It also cooresponds to the tzad nukva (the feminine side) and to Dovid Hamelech, the ultimate Baal Teshuva.

People often exists with different levels of each of these Leah or Rochel traits. A person may be 70% Leah and 30% Rochel or whatever. I see some people in my Shul, especially older people who are such beautiful Jews in their never-failing punctuality and commitment to davening and learning. On the other hand, I know other people who are much more volitile, but have such a passion for Yiddishkeit and a drive to grow, that it inspires me. They may not always be there or on-time for every minyan, but every time they take one step backwards, they take two steps forward and are much greater people than they were a year ago. Fortunately, the lack of rock-solid consistency opens a Leah up to much more growth in avodas Hashem.

In today's times, at least in America, most people are more Leah than they are Rochel. This is certainly true of myself as well. May Hashem help all of us, the Rochels, the Leahs, and everyone in-between reach our tachlis hamechuvan, or intended purpose in life!

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of onlysimchas)

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