A Man is Ready to Marry When He Can Support His Wife and Family


In Parshat Vayetzei, after Lavan asked Yaakov what his wages would be, Yaakov answered (Breisheet 29:18): “…I will work for you for seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.”


Why did Yaakov obligate himself to work for seven years, a relatively long period of time, in order to marry Rachel?


According to Chizkuni, Yaakov should have only said a year or two but he didn’t think that Lavan would give him a woman as beautiful as Rachel if he only worked for a short time.


Sforno points out that Yakkov, the Tzadik (righteous man) would not marry a woman and have children if he wasn’t able to support them with food and clothing. Lavan, a man of means would not let his daughters marry a man who could not support them.


As we know from Breisheet 32:11, Yaakov arrived at Lavan’s house with only his “makel”, his staff.


Rashi comments that Yaakov didn’t have silver, gold or cattle, he only had his staff.


Since Yaakov didn’t have any flocks when he arrived, he had no way to make a living. He had to work as a shepherd for Lavan in order to marry Rachel. The money that he earned would go towards her “mohar”, bride price or dowry.


We learn from Yaakov that a husband is required to support his wife and children. If he is not financially independent he is not ready to get married.


There are communities today that believe that the wife should support her husband or that the parents or in-laws should support their children and grandchildren. This viewpoint is actually contrary to Halacha (Jewish law). In the Ketubah (marriage contract) the husband obligates himself to support his family for the duration of the marriage as well as pay alimony in case of divorce.


Although Yaakov had a wealthy father-in-law, he did not expect Lavan to support them. Yaakov didn’t want to be dependent on his father-in-law and Lavan would have never agreed to support them anyway.