Leah’s approach in tefillah is quite intriguing to me.
Leah’s prayer changes the gender of her child:
Because of her prayer, the gender of her child was changed while in her womb. She was supposed to have a son, and while in the womb was switched to a female and instead she had a daughter. This idea in itself is so powerful to me. This is what is possible with a tefillah!
Leah applies Din, judgment as the basis of her prayer:
Chazal tells us that she applied judgment and then davened. Which judgment? She didn’t want her sister Rachel to feel shame or lesser. “If this be a son, my sister Rachel cannot be even the equal of any of the handmaids.”
Immediately after she has Dina, the Pasuk says: “Hashem remembered Rachel..”. Rashi says He remembered it to her as a merit that she transmitted the secret signs to her sister.
What is fascinating to me is that we have Leah davening to protect her sister’s dignity, so much so that she seems to be saying it is a Halacha and therefore the nature of her child needs to change. And, Hashem does it. She uses Halacha, and then davens! Using Din to bring Rachamim. To me, this seems to indicate that if someone is dealing with a situation of din, judgment, one can be vigilant with Halacha as the tool to change situation to one of mercy .
Secondly, it is not enough that she refrains from having another son, and makes room for her sister; it seems to trigger Kavyachol to remember the compassion, the moment of Rachel making room for her sister Leah, so she should not suffer an indignity and transferred her secret signs to protect her; and allow for the switch to occur. Rachel’s prayers are answered and she has a son.
For such an act, Hashem it activates ויזכור אלהים את רחל and Rochels tefillos are answered and she has a son Yosef.
There is a Rabeinu Bachya that describes how one should daven and combine it with a Mitzvah and such a prayer is heard much “more” in a time of a mitzvah and especially when lighting Shabbat candles. He specifically points this out in terms of women lighting shabbat candles and using that moment to daven for children, and children who illuminate in Torah.
כי התפלה יותר נשמעת בשעת עשיית המצוה
ובזכות נר שבת שהוא אור תזכה לבנים בעלי תורה הנקראת אור
It seems to me that this is exactly what Leah and Rochel were doing. What if Rochel was the original davener for Leah, when she gave her the signs? What if Rochel’s tefillah was equivalent to the lighting of shabbat candles intertwined with a prayer for her sister and for all future generations?
What if this is exactly how Leah learned this idea, and did the same for her sister, davening for her sister’s children when she was pregnant with her own, also willing to do a switch as her sister did for her, to not cause any suffering of indignity to each other. What if this was Leah’s Shabbos candles, a moment of deep attachment to Hashem, seeking to illuminate the world with children who illuminate the world with Torah for her sister Rachel?
What if they were both davening for a world of redemption actually?
I think it is worth pondering how this child Yosef is born therefore.
In both instances, when Rachel gave the signs to her sister and now when Leah davens for her sister; both sisters were worried about falling in the lot of Esav which I think requires more understanding of what that really means.
However, perhaps they are teaching us that it requires us to be ready to switch places with another, applying the Mitzvah of ואהבת לרעיך כמוך in our davening to bring both a Moshiach ben Dovid and a Moshiach Ben Yosef!
May we all be Zoche to emulate the ways of our Imahos and their prayers for the protection and revelation of Moshiach Ben Yosef and Moshiach Ben Dovid in the most beautiful ways Biezras Hashem Who Remembered Rochel..
Last, she bore him a daughter, and named her Dinah (Bereishis, 30:21)
“Chazal explained that Leah set herself up as judge (דנה) against herself saying: “If this be a son, my sister Rachel cannot be even the equal of any of the handmaids”. She, therefore, offered prayer regarding it, and its sex was changed (Berakhot 60a).”