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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash


Leah and Rachel are two sisters who take center stage in Parshat VaYestsie. Neither of the sisters has it easy. Both are wed to Jacob, but it is Rachel whom Jacob loves. Jacob works for seven years so he can wed Rachel, but on his wedding night he is presented with Leah who is veiled and unidentifiable. Jacob begins to work another seven years for Rachel, to whom he is devoted. Rachel, as the other foremothers, suffers from barrenness while Leah gives birth to many sons and a daughter, but remains the woman unloved by Jacob. Rachel is loved, but deeply unhappy and Leah is the woman who bears children but has to learn to live as second best.

This poem tries to imagine Leah and her feelings of being less loved in a marriage. She is made whole both from her inner strength and boosted by the love and respect of her many children.


I am number two

Never number one

Not at the head of the line

Nor the first picked

Not the best dressed

Or the most clever

Or articulate

Or the most beautiful

I am not the one you think of in the morning

Or when you are lonely

Or the one you dream of at night

You don't seek my smile

Or chat quietly with me at night

Or look at me with special eyes

Or worry about me

Or reach out tenderly for my hand

You do not see my beauty

You do not search for my cleverness

Or feel the generosity of my spirit

You do not seek out my inner wisdom

You see my eyes but

You do not see into my heart

As though I am covered with a veil

Through it you cannot hear my soul cry

They say my eyes are weak

But my eyes see things that you do not

My eyes see truth

They do not deny reality

My eyes see you

Even when you do not see me

My heart is strong

my will is stronger

I have the courage of a lion

Worth is not measured by numbers

Nor by the love of others

Worth is measure by strength of deeds

By virtue and commitment

A work of art is more than just beauty

It is the meaning it imparts to others

So it is with me

I swim quietly beneath the surface

See me

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