We find a perplexing pasuk with regard to Yaakov’s love for Rachel. In describing the seven years Yaakov was forced to wait before he could marry Rachel, the Torah tells us: He felt that they were like just a few days due to his love for her (Bereishit 29:20). Now, isn’t just the opposite true!? When a person loves someone or even something but is temporarily disconnected from him or it, the result is usually a bad case of longing. When a wedding is delayed, for example, this can cause anxiety until the day actually arrives. Time seems to go forward more slowly than a turtle. How, then, can we understand that out of the great love Yaakov had for his future wife Rachel, it felt like “just a few days”?
R’ Eliyahu Lopian, zt”l, explained that most people misunderstand the real meaning of love. Love should not be seen as a pleasant experience in the company of a person who is pleasant to be around. True love is the feeling inside a person that he or she wants to contribute and be of assistance to, or please and gratify, the beloved. This is the Hebrew definition of the word love (אהבה). This word comes from the root הב, meaning to give. Love is a verb, not an experience or state of being. The concept expressed by the words “I’m in love” is not a Jewish one.
The seven years that Yaakov worked for Rachel felt like just a few days because Yaakov’s love for her was for her – and not for himself. On the other hand, when someone is awaiting pleasure, seven years feels like eternity. Thus, the passuk is telling us that Yaakov’s love for Rachel was rooted in the spiritual.
How can a person know what kind of love he has for another person? Try this test:
If Eliyahu haNavi would come to you just before your wedding and tell you that your best friend would be a much better spouse for your “intended” than you, what would you do? Would your love for the person you thought was your spouse-to-be impel you to reveal to him or her what Eliyahu haNavi told you?
This is what Yaakov would have done because this was the kind of selfless love that he had for Rachel. He only wanted to give. This is true love. Jewish love.