Ahavas Shaul - Parshas Vayeitzei

Why was Ya’akov not concerned about marrying Rachel, the younger daughter, before Leah?

(29,26) “And Lavan said: Such is not done in our place, to give the younger before the older.”

The sefer Sifsei Chachomim asked a question on our posuk according to what Rabbeinu Tam says in Kiddushin 52a - that it is the normal custom not to marry off a younger daughter before an older daughter, because “such is not done in our place”. Rabbeinu Tam seems to imply that this is a universal custom, and if so, why did Lavan say “such is not done in our place”, implying that elsewhere older daughters are married off before younger daughters?

We can answer this question from what we wrote elsewhere concerning Ya’akov marrying two sisters - since the patriarchs kept the whole Torah even before it was given, how could Ya’akov marry two sisters? One of the answers that is given is that Ya’akov converted them before he married them, and the rule is that converts are considered as if they are born anew.

Here too we can ask how Ya’akov could wish to marry Rachel before Leah if the universal custom is not to marry off the younger before the older? The answer must be that since they converted and thus were considered to be born anew their previous familial connection no longer exists, as Rashi writes in Sanhedrin 58a, and so they are no longer sisters. Therefore, Ya’akov saw no problem in marrying Rachel before Leah.

But Lavan said to Ya’akov: Granted that where you come from if one of the sisters takes on a new religion then a younger sister can marry before an older sister, but in our place the custom is that even if one of the sisters converts the younger daughter still cannot marry before the older daughter. This is what Lavan meant when he said “such is not done in our place”.

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