Dudaim - Mandrake
freshly gathered seeds, from Samaria ISRAEL
The secret of the Emahot (Matriarchs)
|14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah: 'Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes.'||
éã åÇéÌÅìÆêÀ øÀàåÌáÅï áÌÄéîÅé ÷ÀöÄéø-çÄèÌÄéí, åÇéÌÄîÀöÈà ãåÌãÈàÄéí áÌÇùÌÒÈãÆä, åÇéÌÈáÅà àÉúÈí, àÆì-ìÅàÈä àÄîÌåÉ; åÇúÌÉàîÆø øÈçÅì, àÆì-ìÅàÈä, úÌÀðÄé-ðÈà ìÄé, îÄãÌåÌãÈàÅé áÌÀðÅêÀ.
|15 And she said unto her: 'Is it a small matter that thou hast taken away my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son's mandrakes also?' And Rachel said: 'Therefore he shall lie with thee to-night for thy son's mandrakes.'||
èå åÇúÌÉàîÆø ìÈäÌ, äÇîÀòÇè ÷ÇçÀúÌÅêÀ àÆú-àÄéùÑÄé, åÀìÈ÷ÇçÇú, âÌÇí àÆú-ãÌåÌãÈàÅé áÌÀðÄé; åÇúÌÉàîÆø øÈçÅì, ìÈëÅï éÄùÑÀëÌÇá òÄîÌÈêÀ äÇìÌÇéÀìÈä, úÌÇçÇú, ãÌåÌãÈàÅé áÀðÅêÀ.
|16 And Jacob came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said: 'Thou must come in unto me; for I have surely hired thee with my son's mandrakes.' And he lay with her that night.||
èæ åÇéÌÈáÉà éÇòÂ÷Éá îÄï-äÇùÌÒÈãÆä, áÌÈòÆøÆá, åÇúÌÅöÅà ìÅàÈä ìÄ÷ÀøÈàúåÉ åÇúÌÉàîÆø àÅìÇé úÌÈáåÉà, ëÌÄé ùÒÈëÉø ùÒÀëÇøÀúÌÄéêÈ áÌÀãåÌãÈàÅé áÌÀðÄé; åÇéÌÄùÑÀëÌÇá òÄîÌÈäÌ, áÌÇìÌÇéÀìÈä äåÌà.
We also went out into the fields at the fertile time of the wheat harvest (between Pesach and Shavuot),
We will be glad to mail you 12 dried Dudaim (Mandrake) seeds
Not to be ingested!
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by Nachi Farkas
In this week's Parasha, Reuven goes out into the fields and finds some Dudaim, a form of flower whose identity is unclear. Rachel then makes a deal with Leah: in exchange for the Dudaim, Leah would get to spend the night with Yaakov. Why is this entire story important in the context of the birth of the tribes?
The Ibn Ezra suggests that the Dudaim were a known fertility aid, which is why Rachel wanted them. There is a problem with this opinion: if she wanted to have children, why did she sacrifice her husband, who was the real source of children, for a fertility aid?
The Ramban maintains that the Dudaim were not fertility stimuli, but rather fragrant flowers or fruits that were pleasing to Rachel. It is clear that Rachel was not using a fertility aid from the fact that when she did give birth, the Torah states "VaYishma Eileha," "He (Hashem) listened to her," connoting that the birth was caused by her prayer, not by natural means. The problem still remains, though: why did she give up a night with Yaakov for the sake of some aromatic flowers?
The Seforno comments that this transaction showed how much Rachel really wanted to have children. There is a concept that words are not enough; action must be taken to demonstrate sincerity. When Rachel sacrificed her night with Yaakov, she showed how badly she wanted to have children. All she had to do to get them was to give up one night. On the other hand, Chazal say that this thought process was wrong and showed a lack of respect for the righteousness of Yaakov, causing her to be buried apart from Yaakov.
If, as the Seforno suggests, Rachel merited having children by taking a concrete action, why is there an interlude between this transaction and that of Rachel finally giving birth? Perhaps the interlude, depicting Leah having kids as a result of the night she spent with Yaakov, demonstrates an important lesson in Tefillah and Chesed. The Gemara (Bava Kamma 92a) states that one who davens for others who have the same troubles as he does will be answered first. Also, the Parasha discusses how Yaakov's two wives prayed and were rewarded with kids. When Leah gave the Dudaim to Rachel, she demonstrated a Chesed. By giving Rachel something that she could have used herself in order to have more kids, she showed self-sacrifice and put Rachel ahead of herself. This sacrifice led Hashem to answer her prayers first, giving her kids, and then answering Rachel's by giving her kids. Even more astonishing is that Leah conceived on the first night; the one for which she traded her Dudaim.
This entire episode has great ramifications. When one selflessly puts another in front of himself, even sustaining a loss as a result, Hashem rewards him by answering his prayers speedily.
Rabbi Zvi Leshem (Blobstein)
Among the stranger stories in the Torah is that in Bereshit 14-17 in which Reuvan brings his mother Leah dudaim (mandrakes?) from the field. Rachel asks for some, and after a rather strange interchange Leah trades them for a night with Yaacov, who usually slept in Rachel's tent. Leah conceives another son (and then a daughter), after which Rachel finally conceives, giving birth to Yosef.
Most of the commentators view this as another example of the difficult and tense relationship between the three, and of the competition between the two women to conceive the future tribes of Israel, while at the same time competing for the attention and love of their common husband.(1)
What are the dudaim? The Radak writes that according to folk medicine they were a natural fertility drug (2), however this is not the case, since Leah, despite giving the flowers to Rachel, conceived first, whereas Rachel only conceived later due to special divine intervention.(3)
Upon Yaacov's return from the field, Leah greeted him and invited him into her tent. While this has been seen as an act bordering upon immodesty, the Zohar clearly states that Leah did this to spare Rachel of the embarrassment of having Yaacov enter her tent and then leaving.(4) In the end Leah gave birth to Yissachar and Rachel to Yosef. The Zohar describes Yissachar as the greatest Torah scholar among Yaacov's sons. Yosef, adds the Sod Yesharim (5) was the tzaddik who was able to connect the Torah to the world in which we live (6), and thus this story represents a crucial stage in the process of Am Yisrael's creation.
The ways of the L-rd are truly wondrous. May haShem open our eyes so that we will behold the wonders of His holy Torah. Shabbat Shalom.
1 The exception is Rav Hirsch, who reads the whole story as a playful interchange between the two wives, whom he understands as sharing an intimate partnership. While my heart aches to accept his view, my head demurs.
2 This was related to their shape which resembled a person. See the Ibn Ezra etc. See also the Zohar 156b, that their power could not cure a woman who was truly barren, but they could help a fertile woman to conceive if she had other, secondary infertility problems. Both the Ramban and the Sforno suggest that the plant was not a fertility drug, but rather an aphrodisiac. The Sforno compares it with garlic, which Ezra the Scribe decreed should be eaten on Friday nights, and which has also been explained as both an aphrodisiac and as a fertility drug. Dudaim is understood in the midrash as being related to the word dodim, love.
3 However, according to several commentaries, Leah only gave Rachel some of the plant, and apparently used some herself as well. See also Rav Yehuda Henkin, Chiba Yetara that the phrase tachat dudai benach means that the plant, which had a pleasant smell, was actually hung over the bed! According to the Netziv, the flowers were worn as an adornment.
4 157a. The Netziv gives a similar explanation, and describes this as a case in which Leah was willing to forfeit her own honor. Perhaps we can see this as repayment for Rachel's transmission of the signs to Leah on her wedding night in order to spare her of embarrassment.
5 Vol. 1, Vayetzei, s.v. vayelech.
6 The Torah is tiferet and Yosef, who is yesod, succeeds in bringing it into malchut -- this world. This also brings unity to Leah (bina, who is above the Torah) and Rachel, who is malchut.
The variety found by Reuben was a rare species that gives off deadly fumes when pulled from the ground (Midrash Aggadah on Genesis 49:14, quoted in Tzeror HaMor as Midrash HaGaluy; Toledoth Yitzchak on Genesis 49:14. Cf Niddah 31a; Josephus, Wars 7:6:3). In the Talmud, there appears to be a dispute as to whether Reuben brought home the violet flowers, the fruits or the roots (Sanhedrin 99b). Other sources indicate that he brought home two fruits (Tzava'ath Yissachar 1:3,5,7; Josephus, Antiquities 1:19:8).
Obviously, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs knew how to use these plants in mystical ways (Genesis 30:37). Still, Rachel did not bear children because of the mandrakes, but because of her prayers (Genesis 30:2, 30:22; cf. Zohar 1:157b). According to one ancient source, Rachel did not eat the mandrakes, but offered them to God (Tzava'ath Yissachar 2:6).