אַשְׂכִּילָה בְּדֶרֶךְ תָּמִים
posted by A Simple Jew @ 8:47 AM
My understanding has always been:Bilha & Zilpa we're maidservants. They were not wives; they had no significant role in the family – other than being “hand-maidens” for Rochel & Leah. What their roles were is unclear; they probably were confidants, helpers and nannies among other things. As far as mothering any shvatim, they have no standing - they were given to Yaakov for child-bearing by Yaakov’s wives, and the children were named, raised, and considered as belonging to the primary wives.
R' Baruch Emanuel Erdstein writes: Jewish mystical masters explain that Jacob's soul mate was essentially divided into four complementary identities: her revealed intellectual (sometimes explained as “upper front”) aspect manifest as Leah; her hidden alter-intellect (“upper back”) manifest as Zilpa; her revealed emotional/physical aspect (“lower front”) manifest as Rachel; and her hidden physical aspect (“lower back”) manifest as Bilha.With each of these unique aspects of Jacob’s soul mate identified and localized, the particular fixing for each of their counterparts in the spiritual worlds could be more easily effected. In fact, the task of rectifying these particulars was also placed upon the specific tribes which issued from these respective mothers. So, essentially, it can be said that there are an equal number of Patriarchs and Matriarchs (3 & 3) – just that Jacob’s partner was first “split” into two (Rachel and Leah) and then into four (with Bilha and Zilpa); our understanding of the maidservants being the concealed “backsides” of the revealed Rachel and Leah, as described above, accounts for our not numbering them among the essential Matriarchs.In the age of the Final Redemption, we will see that really there was only one essential soul mate of Jacob, also known as “Israel”. Our mystical masters teach that this is one of the secrets of the concept of the long anticipated Ingathering of the Exiles and the uniting of the Tribes, which have been dispersed for so long. When all the Children of Israel finally come together, may it be soon in our days, the rectification and unification of this world – and indeed all the spiritual worlds – will be apparent and clear to all.See:http://www.askmoses.com/article.html?h=195&o=2070440
Chabakuk Elisha: During lunch today I ran across an interesting comment from the Ohr HaChaim. As part of his lengthy commentary to Bereishis 49:3 the Ohr HaChaim wrote, "I am convinced that Yaakov acquired Bilhah by betrothing her to him in the traditional manner…" He also later writes, "The facts of the matter are that Bilhah had always been a proper wife of Yaakov…"
Thanks! So how DOES the O"H differentiate between the status of R&L vs. B&Z?
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