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    How many children is enough? – Vayyetzei

    Jacob had an impressive entourage of wives, concubines and a large number of children.

    One of the concubines was Leah’s maid Zilpah. We cannot say that she gave Zilpah to Jacob (Gen. 30:9) in order for him to have children, since Leah had already produced a number of sons. It seems to have been a matter of family power and domestic dynamics.

    According to Ramban, Leah saw prophetically that Jacob would have twelve sons, from whom would eventually emerge the twelve tribes of Israel. Leah wanted to be the matriarch of the majority of the tribes, either through her maidservant or in her own right. Eventually Leah herself had a daughter, Dinah (Gen. 30:21).

    Apart from the question of how many children there would be in the family there is a broader issue – relevant even in our much later age – of why people somehow tend to think that having boys is more significant than having girls. After all, if one is allowed to be cynical, without girls being born there wouldn’t be any boys either.

    But cynicism is not the only consideration. Since children are a gift from God (Psalm 127), it is the Almighty who decides which parents will have a boy and which will have a girl.

    A child has in a sense three parents – father, mother and God.

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