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Jewish Music

Rachel and Leah feat. Chrissie Miller

Hannah Spiro


In the Reform and Reconstructionist Amidah (the central prayer in Jewish liturgy) we acknowledge Rachel and Leah as two of the matriarchs. They may have given birth to the Jewish people, but their story is a painful one. Rachel and Jacob (the father of the twelve tribes of Israel) fell in love but her father, Laban, made Jacob work for him for seven years before he could marry Rachel. Then, at the wedding, Laban tricked Jacob by having him marry Rachel’s older sister Leah instead, since it wasn’t the custom to have the younger daughter married off first. Jacob didn’t love Leah, however, so Laban allowed him to marry Rachel as well for an extra seven years of labor. Leah had many children, but Rachel was, for the most part, barren, so she had to offer up her maid to Jacob as a concubine. Leah ended up doing the same. Eventually they both had children, but going through what they did – having to wait years to marry the man you love, sharing him with your sister, not being loved by your husband, not being able to have children and having to share him with your maid as well, being able to have children and having to share him with your maid as well – could not have been easy. This song is a bit of a midrash – a speculative elaboration on Torah – that plays with how Rachel and Leah’s marriages to Jacob might have effected themselves and their relationship with each other.


He told me, ‘Seven years and you are mine, just wait. The time will fly, because I’ll see your face Be faithful and patient and then one day I’ll take you away’ He told me, ‘Oh, my eldest, do not shed a tear. You’ll wear his ring in only seven years Be faithful and patient and then one day He’ll take you away’ Oh, they don’t know how we live No, we’re giving all we can give Sister, forgive me, I have what you lack And still I am empty, empty, helpless and trapped He promised Seven years and I’d be with my man But there’s more to marriage than love and this I understand Faithful and patient, still I will wait For him to take me away I see it In his eyes, when he looks into mine There’s nothing there, and I do not know why But faithful and patient, I’ll hope and pray One day I’ll blow him away Chorus I lay with him, pray with him, love him like myself And yet I am barren, and go up on the shelf I’ll give you my maid, just don’t love her like me, oh It kills me, it kills me, it kills me, it kills me I lay with him, pray with him, love him as best I can Give him three chuldren, and he doesn’t give a damn So take my maid as well, do with her as you wish I just can’t take this, no, I just can’t take this Chorus