Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Can You Help Me Understand My Dream?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Miketz
Printable Version

Dear Rebbetzin,
I’ve heard that you do workshops about dream interpretation and that you also interpret dreams during your private EmunaHealing sessions. I have a reoccurring dream that I am concerned about, so perhaps you can help me. Around 5:30 in the morning, I often wake up upset from the following dream: I see myself stepping into my car and beginning to drive. But there is a very irritating bee that keeps buzzing and distracting my focus from the steering wheel. In my dream, I feel immensely afraid to get stung and then the car keeps moving forward downhill very fast, and I have no way to stop it. I’m overtaken by the fear of having an accident, as the car just keeps going on its own, and no matter how much I try to take control I am completely powerless.
Yakova Shaltiel (name changed)

Dear Yakova,
I’m glad that you are reaching out to me to help you interpret your dream, since it is important to tell the dream to someone who will interpret it favorable for you. The Talmud learns from Parashat Miketz that the dream follows its interpretation: “…Rabbi Eleazar said, from where do we know that all dreams follow their interpretations? Because it states, (Bereishit 41:13) “It came to pass, as he interpreted for us, so it was.” Rabba said, this is only if the interpretation corresponds to the content of the dream, as it states, (ibid. 41:12) “to each man according to his dream did he interpret” (Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 55b). Therefore, we can’t just make up any interpretation that we like and append it to a dream. The interpretation must correspond to the content of the dream. Yet, the word of G-d contains numerous facets and has several true interpretations. I will do my very best to interpret your dream in a positive way that may also help you work on your inner self.

The Effect of How We Tell Over Our Dreams
Rabbi Chisda said, a dream that is not interpreted is like a letter, which is not read (Babylonian Talmud Berachot 55a). Each interpretation magnifies and adorns the Torah. So too in regards to dreams, which are a sixtieth of prophecy. It is encoded in the dream that its actualization takes place according to its interpretations. The interpreters can actualize any of its hidden interpretations (Rav Kook, Eyin Re’aya).

The way we tell over our dreams is extremely important, and I notice that you wrote, “I am concerned about my dream” rather than stating, “I had a bad dream.” That is excellent, as no one should ever say that he had a bad or negative dream. Rabbeinu Bachaya notes that we should be careful how we tell over our dream since the words we use also have an effect on the interpretation of the dream. For example, the butler started mentioning “בַּחֲלוֹמִי/b’chalomi – in my dream” which also means recovering from illness, whereas the baker started by saying, “אַף/af – even,” using the same word as the snake who was punished (Bereishit 3:1). Correspondingly, the butler was freed, while the baker was hung.

Dream Interpretation Depends on the Individual Character of the Dreamer
When you tell your dreams to someone who knows you, it can help them to decode your dream, as various images means different things to different people. For example, “One who sees wine in a dream, if he is a Rabbi, then it is good, if not then it means judgment” (Zohar 3, 14b). The study of Torah is compared to fine wine. Thus for a Rabbi, whose primary bond in life is with the Torah, seeing wine in a dream is symbolic of Torah. However, the layman must understand wine according to it’s usual meaning: a means to become intoxicated. As such, it is a sign of judgment- for intoxication leads to improper behavior for which one is judged. So the fact that I do not know you gives me a bit of a handicap. Therefore, please forgive me if you do not feel that my interpretation matches your personality. I do hope that you will accept at the very least part of my interpretation. For the interpretation to come true, it must be accepted by the dreamer as we learn from this week’s parasha,

ספר בראשית פרק מא פסוק ח ...וַיִּשְׁלַח וַיִּקְרָא אֶת כָּל חַרְטֻמֵּי מִצְרַיִם וְאֶת כָּל חֲכָמֶיהָ וַיְסַפֵּר פַּרְעֹה לָהֶם אֶת חֲלֹמוֹ וְאֵין פּוֹתֵר אוֹתָם לְפַרְעֹה:

“He sent and called all the magicians of Egypt and all her wise men: And Pharaoh told them his dream, but there were none that could interpret them to Pharaoh” (Bereishit 41:8).

Allow Yourself to Lose Control
Now let’s get to your dream itself. You mentioned that you dreamed about bees. Arizal teaches that a leader who is arrogant towards his congregation and those who speak too much reincarnate into bees. Depending on your personality, you will know whether it is superfluous speech or arrogance that you need to work on. However, taken with the second element of your dream, your feeling powerless to stop your car from driving downhill by itself, it seems to me that you are afraid of losing control of your life. Arrogance often goes hand in hand with being too controlling. Therefore, it seems that your dream is a message from heaven to work on humility, which will help you to let go and let G-d.

ספר משלי פרק יט פסוק כא רַבּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבוֹת בְּלֶב אִישׁ וַעֲצַת הָשֵׁם הִיא תָקוּם:

“There are many devices in a person’s heart, but Hashem’s plan shall stand (Mishlei 19:21).

It is easy to fall into the illusion that everything in our lives depends on us, and that if we don’t get something done it will remain undone. This kind of attitude causes a lot of pressure, since we feel so indispensable that we cannot afford for one moment to relax and lose ourselves to just having a good time. We need to learn to let go of control and allow things to happen according to Hashem’s plan. Hashem is sending you a clear message to allow things to roll a bit while enjoying the ride, for we can never really be in control of the steering wheel of our lives.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why Did Ya’acov Give Yosef a Special Coat and What Kind of Coat was It?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Vayeshev 

Dear Rebbetzin,
It bothers me that Ya’acov didn’t treat his sons equally but gave Yosef a coat of many colors. Wasn’t Ya’acov aware that favoring Yosef in this way would cause his other children to become jealous as we see is what happened? Ya’acov – the father of the Jewish people – is supposed to be a role model for life. How can he be such a negative example of child rearing?
Ruchama Stein (name changed)

Dear Ruchama,
I totally understand your question, which is in sync with the Talmud that states, “A man should never single out or distinguish one son among his other sons. For on account of the two sela’s weight of silk, which Ya’acov gave Yosef in excess of his other sons, his brothers became jealous of him and the matter resulted in our forefathers’ descent into Egypt” (Shabbat 10b). So why did Ya’acov, our father, give Yosef such extra special garment and what kind of garment was it?

ספר בראשית פרק לז פסוק ג וְיִשְׂרָאֵל אָהַב אֶת יוֹסֵף מִכָּל בָּנָיו כִּי בֶן זְקֻנִים הוּא לוֹ וְעָשָׂה לוֹ כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים:
“Israel loved Yosef more than all his sons, for he was a child of his old age, and he made him an embroidered or striped tunic” (Bereshit 37:3).

Like the Garments of the Kohanim
In the Torah, various garments play important roles. Garments reflect the occupation and status of those who wear them, just as today a fireman, pilot and soldier wear a special uniform. Yosef’s cloak represented being appointed for an important mission. The commentaries give various views of the meaning of כְּתֹנֶת פַּסִּים/ketonet passim that Yisrael bequeathed to Yosef. Passim can mean respectively, decorated, embroidered, multicolored or striped. Ketonet can mean a shirt, cloak or a tunic, like that which the Kohanim wore. The word even sounds similar to the word cotton or kutna in Hebrew. Surely, Ya’acov gave Yosef a most remarkable garment symbolizing Yosef’s leadership both in the home and in the field (Sforno). Kli Yakar explains that Ya’acov made Yosef a tunic for honor and glory similarly to the garments of the Kohanim who were dressed in כְתֹנֶת תַּשְׁבֵּץ/ketonet tashbetz – a checkered tunic and whose garments were also called “for honor and glory” (Shemot 28:2-4). With this special garment, Ya’acov bequeathed Yosef with the firstborn rights, which he had removed from Reuven. (Reuven became disqualified when he mingled into his father’s private affairs, moving Ya’acov’s bed from Bilha’s to Leah’s tent). Before the sin of the Golden Calf, the firstborn’s responsibility was to serve as the Kohen to Hashem. Therefore, Receiving the ketonet passim symbolized Yosef’s new role to minister as a Kohen connecting heaven and earth.

Shortening Exile and Heralding Redemption
The word פַּסִּים/passim shares the same numerical value as the word קֶץ/ketz – end (190). In the merit of Yosef, the Egyptian exile ended 190 years earlier than what Avraham was told, “…your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs. They will be enslaved and afflicted for 400 years” (Bereishit 15:13). Due to Yosef, the Egyptian exile was shortened to 210 years (See Rashi, Bereishit 42:2). Ba’al HaTurim notes that the word פַּסִּים/passim is the acronym for פוטיפרע/Potifar, סוחרים/sochachim – merchants, ישמעאלים/Yishmaelites and מדינים/Midianites. Yosef suffered greatly under the hand of each of these on his way to Egypt and within Egypt. Suffering cleanses all the sins of a person (Berachot 5a). At times, a tzaddik takes on the suffering of the people and brings atonement for the entire generation. Through the slavery of Yosef, the slavery of the Israelites was greatly reduced. The fact that the word passim shares the gematria with the word ketz – end, also means that Ya’acov handed over to Yosef the secret of the end of days. In addition, Ya’acov hinted to Yosef that he would bring about the end of days since he is the predecessor of Mashiach ben Yosef (Siftei Kohen).

Spiritual Garments of Rectification
The garment that Ya’cov made for Yosef was more than just a material apparel. Yosef’s Ketonet Passim indeed was כָּתְנוֹת אוֹר/ketonet ohr – a garment of light. Adam and Eve wore such spiritual garments in the Garden of Eden. However, their garments of אוֹר/ohr – light were turned into garments of עוֹר/or – skin when they eat from the Tree. The spiritual garments of the ketonet passim that Ya’acov created reflected his rectification of Adam by returning his lost garments of light. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge brought schisms into the world, and Ya’acov knew that Yosef – whose name means to gather – was his only son worthy to return the original unification (Shlah HaKodesh, Mesechet Matza Ashirah). It was the serpent that caused the original breach in world unity, by bringing about the removal of the א/alef (symbolizing oneness) from the name of Adam. Without the א/alef all that was left from אָדָם/Adam was דָּם/dam – blood, for blood was spilled, now that death was introduced to the world. Parallel to the alef dropping from the name of Adam, the alef also dropped from the garments of light – אוֹר/ohr, which then turned into skin, flesh and blood. When the tribes stripped Yosef of his special garment they separated him from his highest unification with Hashem and thus removed his א/alef. This brought about the דָּם/dam – blood, which remained of Adam after the sin. This is the secret of “they dipped the ketonet passim in blood (Bereishit 37:31); (Shelah HaKodesh, Parashat Vayeshev).

Returning the Lost Light of the Garden through the Ketonet Passim
“The serpent was naked” (Bereishit 3:1), therefore, it tempted Adam and Eve and stole their spiritual garments. Without these garments of light, Adam and Eve became aware that they were naked and separate from the Oneness of G-d. With the removal of the garments of light and life, death and mortality entered the lower world, which no longer was united with the higher worlds. The unity of G-d that originally shone forth in the Garden became concealed within the split reality of our world. The evil Nimrod who like the primordial serpent rebelled against G-d’s unity, got a hold of the spiritual garments, and subsequently the wicked Esau desired them too and eventually stole them from Nimrod (Rashi, Bereishit 15:26). Esau, who was an incarnation of the serpent, had given the spiritual garments to his mother to safeguard. However, “Rivkah, his mother, took Esau, her son’s desirable garments and dressed Ya’acov, her son in them” (Bereishit 15:26), in order to enable him to receive his father’s blessing and firstborn right. Yosef, who can overcome Esau, (Ovadia 1:18), had the ability to unify the world and bring back the lost light of the Garden. For this purpose, Ya’acov had to hand over to Yosef the Ketonet Passim – the original garments of light. They were the embodiment of the Ohr HaGanuz – the hidden light, which was hidden for the tzaddikim to reveal (Tiferet Shlomo, Parashat Vayeshev).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Did Dinah Fall in Love with the Prince of Shechem?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Vayislach
Printable Version

Dear Rebbetzin,
I read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant some time ago and I found it very captivating and interesting. It was very helpful to read about the biblical personalities and their relationships, especially since I don’t have much Jewish background. I remember reading about the beautiful love story between Ya’acov’s daughter Dinah and the prince of Shechem in The Red Tent. When I was talking with my sister – who had been a year in a seminary in Israel – she said that I had the facts all wrong, and that Dinah detested the prince. We got into a big fight over it, and I’m turning to you to help me clarify the relationship between Dinah and the prince of Shechem?
Ahuva Gold

Dear Ahuva,
Winter Trip to Dead Sea
I’m glad you asked me to clarify the relationship between biblical figures, since much of the popular reading out there, including The Red Tent may be very misleading. The aim of such books is a captivating story, rather than being true to the Torah. Not only does The Red Tent completely contradict the oral explanation of the Torah, it also distorts passages in the Bible itself. For example, Naftali is mentioned as a son of Leah, rather than Bilhah (Bereishit 30:7-8), and Dinah is described as falling in love with Shechem. The main faulty perspective of The Red Tent is that it expresses a complete lack of understanding of the greatness of our matriarchs and patriarchs. Nevertheless, this bestseller has some merit in sparking a renewed general interest in Women in the Bible. In contrast to the approach of this novel, I will attempt to answer your question through the traditional method of textual analysis, which teaches an appreciation of the true greatness of our holy ancestors. In this way, I endeavor to inspire us all to walk in their ‘soulprints.’

The Violation of Dinah
It is hard to imagine that a young woman of lesser class would not fall head over heels in love with the distinguished prince who desired her. Yet, Dinah, daughter of Ya’acov, was very different from the young women which modern Western authors can picture. Scripture testifies to her spiritual greatness, in that she took no pleasure from Shechem’s advances. Rather, she was repulsed and despised the ‘noble’ prince.
ספר בראשית פרק לד פסוק ב וַיַּרְא אֹתָהּ שְׁכֶם בֶּן חֲמוֹר הַחִוִּי נְשִׂיא הָאָרֶץ וַיִּקַּח אֹתָהּ וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֹתָהּ וַיְעַנֶּהָ:
“When Shechem the son of Chamor the Chivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, lay with her, and defiled her” (Bereishit 34:2).

The Hebrew word וַיְעַנֶּהָ/Vay’aneha – “he defiled her” clearly refers to rape as Ramban explains:

רמב”ן על בראשית פרק לד פסוק ב …כל ביאה באונסה תקרא ענוי, וכן לא תתעמר בה תחת אשר עניתה (דברים כא יד), וכן ואת פלגשי ענו ותמת (שופטים כ ה) ויגיד הכתוב כי היתה אנוסה ולא נתרצית לנשיא הארץ, לספר בשבחה:
…Any forced intercourse is called עִנוּי/inui – defilement. Likewise, “You shall not treat her as a slave, because you have forced her – עִנִּיתָהּ/inita” (Devarim 21:14); “They raped –עִנּוּ /inu my concubine and she died” (Shoftim 20:5). Scripture tells us that she was raped and not interested in the prince of the land, to tell of her praise (Ramban, Bereishit 34:2).

Reunited with her Family
Ramban continues to describe how Dinah screamed and cried constantly. Otherwise, Shechem would not have needed to ask his father, “Take for me this girl for a wife” (Bereishit 34:4). Since he already had Dinah captured in his room, as the prince of the land, he had no need to fear that anyone would take her away from him. It was only because of Dinah’s resistance towards him, that he tried to bribe her family into convincing her to concede willingly to the match (Ramban, Bereishit 34:12). Rather than cursing her family and fleeing from their sight, never to be reunited, as The Red Tent reads, Dinah welcomed her brothers’ rescue from the evil city of Shechem, where she had been imprisoned. A proof that Dinah remained with her family is that she is enumerated among the seventy souls of the seed of Ya’acov that descended to Egypt (Bereishit 45:15).

Replay of the Garden of Eden

ספר בראשית פרק לד (א) וַתֵּצֵא דִינָה בַּת לֵאָה אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב לִרְאוֹת בִּבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ:
“Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she bore unto Ya’acov went out to look upon the daughters of the land” (Bereishit 34:1).

Why do we need this detailed description of Dinah? Was there another Dinah which required the verse to state “daughter of Leah whom she bore unto Ya’acov?” Scripture emphasizes that Dinah is the daughter of Leah, because their souls are connected in a way which goes beyond the attachment of mother and daughter. Dinah had within her the part of her mother which had been destined for Esau. Arizal explains that when the snake polluted Chava with his poison, good and evil became mixed within every soul. This caused the shell of the first rebellious Chava to become absorbed by Leah and carried on to Dinah. Leah was able to rectify and remove the shell of the first Chava, to become completely holy and righteous. However, the remnant of the dregs that were still cleaving to Leah, carried over to Dinah, a name that means harsh judgement. She was holy as well, yet a remnant of the shell of the first Chava still clung to her, since she had not completely rectified herself. (Arizal, The Gate of Articles of Chazal, the Article of the Steps of Avraham Avinu). The underlying reason why Shechem desired Dinah so much was that Dinah’s soul had a spark of Chava and Shechem was the incarnation of the original serpent. This is why he is called, “Chivite” meaning serpent in Aramaic (Targum Onkelus, Bereishit 3:1). Dinah’s soul had absorbed a trace of the spiritual pollution that the serpent had injected into Chava. When Shechem violated her, it was during her menstrual period, so that he re-absorbed this trace of impurity, as it states, “her menstrual flow shall be upon him” (Vayikra 15:24). Her name, “Dinah,” alludes to menstruation- the word for menstruating in Hebrew is נִידָה/nidah the exact letters of the name דִינָה/Dinah. The story of Dinah and Shechem is the replay of Chava and the snake. Dinah was finally able to rectify Chava by expelling the impurity she had absorbed from the snake back onto Shechem.

Her Jewish Essence Remains Pure
What happened to the child that Dinah conceived through the rape by Shechem ben Chamor? Osenat, Dinah’s daughter, was sent away with an amulet on her neck upon which was written: “Whoever cleaves to you, cleaves to the seed of Ya’acov” (Targum Onkelos, Parashat Vayechi 48:9). The angel, Gabriel, brought her to Egypt, to the house of Potifar, who adopted her. When Yosef ruled over Egypt, all the women wanted to gaze at him, because of his beauty, as it states, “Daughters tread on the wall” (Bereishit 49:22). Each of them cast something down from the wall as a gift for Yosef. Since Osenat had nothing else to throw, she hurled the amulet from around her neck. In this way, when Yosef saw that she was the granddaughter of Ya’acov, he married her (Chizkuni, Bereishit 41:45); (Women at the Crossroads p.36). Yosef, the righteous overcame sexual temptation and is therefore the antithesis of Shechem, son of Chamor (meaning donkey, physical/animalistic), the Chivite (meaning snake). Shechem was unable to bridle his animalistic desires, so he lost both the city of Shechem and Dinah to Yosef. Yosef, the archetype of sexual discipline, was able to elevate what Shechem lost. He received Dinah’s and Shechem’s daughter, as a wife, and the city of Shechem, where he was eventually buried (Bereishit 48:22 with Rashi); (Inspired from Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, Azamra).

Dinah –Divine DNA
In spite of the tainted nature of her conception, Osenat became the wife of Yosef the tzaddik. As Yosef’s soulmate, like him, she was sealed with complete sexual chastity. Moreover she,, merited to become the mother of Efrayim and Menashe, two tribes considered equal in holiness to the sons of Ya’acov. This proves that the inner essence of Osenat’s mother, Dinah, remained unaffected and pure even when she was defiled by Shechem (Rabbi Tzaddok of Lublin, Yisrael Ke­doshim 10). The power of her innate holiness is furthermore expressed on a collective level, by bringing about the circumcision of the entire city. Dinah’s daughter, Osenat, is the first person through whom it becomes established that the Jewish lineage follows the mother. In this way, Dinah teaches us that no matter what kind of experiences a Jewish woman may have gone through in her past; there is a place within her soul that remains completely intact and pure in its holiness. This holy spark is carried over to the children she conceives. The fact that Dinah is the first woman to verify that Judaism depends on the mother is hinted by the letters of Dinah’s name, which consists of the letters D, N, and A plus the letter H or the Hebrew letter ה/heh that represents Hashem. Thus Dinah represents ‘the DNA of Hashem’ (Women at the Crossroads pp. 29-30).

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How Could Ya’acov Marry Two Sisters?

Ask the Rebbetzin – Parashat Vayetze
Printable Version

Dear Rebbetzin,
I have a problem with Ya’acov. If he is supposed to be our role model, how can he marry both Rachel and Leah, who were sisters, when it explicitly states in the Torah, “You shall not take a woman as a wife after marrying her sister” (Vayikra 18:18)? If you say that this was before the Torah was given, we know that the holy fathers and mothers kept all the commandments even before they were given due to their personal zealousness and a prophetic knowledge of what the law would be. Moreover, Ya’acov sent a message to Esav saying: “Im Lavan garti – I lived with Lavan” (Bereishit 32:5). Rashi explains that the word, “garti” has the numerical value of 613 – the amount of mitzvot in the Torah. This hints that Ya’acov was informing Esav that he had kept the entire Torah. How could Ya’acov say this when he transgressed the biblical prohibition not to marry two sisters?
Emunah Yakobi (name changed)

Dear Emunah,
Your question has bothered most of the biblical commentaries as well- each one grappling with it in his own way. It is, indeed, not easy to understand why Ya’acov married two sisters- actually four sisters,since, Bilhah and Zilpah were also Lavan’s daughters (Midrash Bereishit Rabbah 74:13). How could Ya’acov set sisters, who are supposed to love one another, up against each other to become rivals for his love and for bearing his children? Today, when it is unacceptable for a man to marry more than one wife, your question becomes even stronger, and deserves attention.

Our Holy Ancestors Kept Most of the Mitzvot before They were Given
We have to understand that although our holy ancestors kept the Torah before it was given, not every single mitzvah was pertinent to them. Rather, they kept the mitzvot based on what they perceived as necessary for making tikunim (rectifications in the world. After the Torah was given, it is not allowed to make such calculations. However, prior to Matan Torah, our forefathers chose to deviate from certain commandments if they believed it necessary in order to fulfill their mission in the world. Therefore, Ya’acov married two sisters in order to accomplish his spiritual goals (Nefesh HaChaim 1:21). In addition, Ibn Ezra points out that the prohibition against marrying sisters is different from the rest of the forbidden relationships. It is not defined as an “abomination” or as “foulness.” Only the prohibitions referred to as sexual vulgarity and ugliness apply to all humanity, whereas, the prohibition against marrying sisters became applicable for Israel only after the giving of the Torah.

Transformation through Conversion
“A convert is like a newborn child” which means that converts are not halachically related to their biological family members (Yevamot 22a; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De’ah 269:10). Since Rachel and Leah had to undergo conversion before Ya’acov married them, it follows that the wives were no longer halachically considered sisters., Therefore, there is no Torah prohibition for a convert to marry a biological relative. (Radvaz, Teshuvos 696); (Marashah, Yoma 28). Still, this explanation has some flaws, since before the giving of the Torah, there was no legal distinction between Jews and the rest of Noach’s descendants. Therefore, halachic conversion did not exist. In addition, the reason the Torah gives for not marrying two sisters, should apply no less to two converted sisters:

ספר ויקרא פרק יח: פסוק יח וְאִשָּׁה אֶל אֲחֹתָהּ לֹא תִקָּח לִצְרֹר לְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָתָהּ עָלֶיהָ בְּחַיֶּיהָ:
“Do not take a woman and her sister as a rival, to uncover her nakedness before the other during her lifetime” (Vayikra 18:18).

It is not proper to marry a woman and her sister, turning them into rivals of each other, for they should love one another and not be rivals (Ramban, Vayikra 18:18). Even if the law that “a convert is like a newborn child” applied before the giving of the Torah, it would not diminish the natural love between two converted sisters, which would be endangered by their sharing one husband.

We Learn the Law of Not Marrying Two Sisters from Ya’acov
The Torah contains various mitzvot that came about through events that happened to our forefathers. For example, the prohibition against eating the sinew of the thigh derives from Ya’acov’s battle with the angel (Bereishit 32:25-33). Rav Elchanan Samet suggests that the prohibition against marrying sisters may have come about through the events of Ya’acov’s life. Rachel and Leah were equally worthy of Ya’acov, and he needed to marry them both in order to build the House of Israel. Yet, the tragic rivalry that developed between them for the love of their husband and the rivalry over bearing children, described in Bereishit chapters 29-30 may have given rise to the Torah prohibition against marrying sisters. (http://etzion.org.il/en/prohibition-marrying-sisters). Nevertheless, Rachel and Leah were able to engender a tremendous rectification by overcoming jealousy. They refined themselves and reached perfection of character which paved the way for the ultimate unification between the segments of Israel. The Torah, however, cannot expect such high inner work from regular sisters.

The Mitzvot Pertains only to the Land of Israel
The Ramban is famous for teaching that the mitzvot apply only in the Land of Israel. Outside of Israel it is only practice. He explains that Ya’acov knew that the moment he entered the land, the prohibition against two sisters would apply: “G-d alone plans how things work out. Rachel died on the way, as they began entering the land. In her merit, she did not die outside Eretz Yisrael, and in his merit, he did not dwell in Eretz Yisrael married to two sisters, for she was married to him in contravention of the prohibition against marrying sisters. It appears that she fell pregnant with Binyamin before they reached Shechem; Ya’acov had no relations with her at all, within the land, because of the prohibition” (Ramban, Vayikra 18:25). “Ya’acov’s (true) intention in not burying Rachel in Me’arat Ha-Machpela was in order that two sisters would not be buried together, for he would thereby be embarrassed before his fathers” (Ramban, Bereishit 48:7). Ramban’s explanation does not go together with the Midrash quoted by Rashi, which says that Ya’acov kept all the mitzvot while living with Lavan. How could Ya’acov say that he kept the entire Torah when in fact he did not keep any of it, since he was not obligated in it while he lived in chutz la’aretz? However, we may say, based on the Nefesh HaChaim, that Ya’acov obeyed a specific command of G‑d, to build the Jewish people by raising the twelve tribes of Israel.

Personal Refinement Never at the Expense of Others
Ya’acov never intended to marry two sisters. Rather, it was brought about by Lavan. Since Ya’acov had promised to marry Rachel, not marrying her would have involved deception. Since the prohibition of deceiving applies to all humanity it overruled the command not to marry his wife’s sister, which had not yet commanded. Rabbi Schneerson of Lubavitch learns from Ya’acov’s marriage to Rachel that care for others overrides the concern for self-perfection that goes beyond G‑d’s law. When we desire to take upon ourselves more than G‑d demands of us, we must first make completely sure that we are not doing so at the expense of others.. (Likkutei Sichot, vol. 5, pp. 141–8). http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/101035/jewish/How-Could-Jacob-Marry-Two-Sisters.htm

The Unification of Sisters Rectifies Creation
The Zohar explains that the souls of Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah, were really four parts of one soul, called “Rachel.” The rectification of creation requires the reunification of all four parts into one soul. This is similar to how Ya’acov absorbed Esav into his being by first buying the birthright, and then receiving the blessings. The four holy wives of Ya’acov represent the four elements, the four primeval rivers in Eden, the four archangels, the four directions the four camps of the Shechina, and the four letters of Hashem’s name (Zohar Part 2, page 266b). Ya’acov’s mission in the world was to unify all these elements and thus rectify Adam, whose sin caused the fragmentation of the world. For the sake of this lofty rectification, Ya’acov had to deviate from heeding the command not to marry two sisters. His mission to rectify the split reality caused by Adam and Chava’s eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, by unifying the manifestations of existence, overrode the prohibition which had not yet been given. By joining together with one husband and overcoming the natural tendency of rivalry, Ya’acov’s four wives became as one unified person, enacting the highest tikun of creation.