We find an argument takes place between Rachel and Leah, apparently over whose tent Yakov is to sleep in.
וַיֵּלֶךְ רְאוּבֵן בִּימֵי קְצִיר-חִטִּים, וַיִּמְצָא דוּדָאִים בַּשָּׂדֶה, וַיָּבֵא אֹתָם, אֶל-לֵאָה אִמּוֹ; וַתֹּאמֶר רָחֵל, אֶל-לֵאָה, תְּנִי-נָא לִי, מִדּוּדָאֵי בְּנֵךְ. וַתֹּאמֶר לָהּ, הַמְעַט קַחְתֵּךְ אֶת-אִישִׁי, וְלָקַחַת, גַּם אֶת-דּוּדָאֵי בְּנִי; וַתֹּאמֶר רָחֵל, לָכֵן יִשְׁכַּב עִמָּךְ הַלַּיְלָה, תַּחַת, דּוּדָאֵי בְנֵךְ. וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב מִן-הַשָּׂדֶה, בָּעֶרֶב, וַתֵּצֵא לֵאָה לִקְרָאתוֹ וַתֹּאמֶר אֵלַי תָּבוֹא, כִּי שָׂכֹר שְׂכַרְתִּיךָ בְּדוּדָאֵי בְּנִי; וַיִּשְׁכַּב עִמָּהּ, בַּלַּיְלָה הוּא – Reuven went, in the days of the wheat harvest, and he found flowers in the field and brought them to Leah, his mother, and Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s flowers.” And she said to her, “Is it not enough that you have taken my husband, that you wish to take my son’s flowers too?” So Rachel said, “Fine, he shall sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s flowers.” Yakov came from the field in the evening, and Leah went to meet him, and she said, “You shall be with me, because I have hired you with my son’s flowers,” and he slept with her that night. (30:14-16)
The pasuk then discusses Leah’s children’s births, after which:
וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-רָחֵל; וַיִּשְׁמַע אֵלֶיהָ אֱלֹהִים, וַיִּפְתַּח אֶת-רַחְמָהּ – And Hashem remembered Rachel, and Hashem listened to her,and opened her womb. (30:22)
Rashi explains that what Hashem remembered was Rachel’s kindness to Leah. The day Rachel was to be married, Yakov had given her a code to ascertain he had not been tricked, and had Leah not have know them, she would otherwise have been found out and humiliated. Rachel provided Leah the codes, condemning herself to not being with Yakov for an indefinite period longer, and played a key role in ensuring Lavan’s treachery was not discovered until the next day, when it was too late.
But years had since passed – why does Hashem remember and repay Rachel’s kindness here?
R’ Ezra Hartman explains that in this episode, the Torah teaches us an incredible principle about kindness. What was Leah thinking when she accused Rachel of taking her husband? Rachel was the sole facilitator that enabled Leah to have been a member of Yakov’s family – without the codes, Leah would have been left in the cold. In fact, Leah had taken Rachel’s husband!
But Rachel does not say this.
R’ Ezra Hartman explains that sometimes, people like to rub in the fact that they’ve done someone a favour, that the other person owes them something. With a real favour, true kindness, the recipient is not even aware that they are being done a favour. Rachel mentioned the codes in passing, for example, “You should know that Yakov’s favourite thing is X and Y,”. Leah was completely unaware of what Rachel had done for her, hence her question. She had no idea what had truly taken place.
Rachel did not say a word about what had happened years earlier, and just talked about the flowers. It is very appropriate therefore, by holding her tongue and declining perfect opportunity to silence Leah, her silence was rewarded. It is specifically at this juncture that וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-רָחֵל – Hashem remembered Rachel – here, as the Seforno says, Hashem remembered her through the flowers.
Hashem repaid her her incredible kindness at the moment she showed she stood by it in spite of personal injury, without cashing it in to win a fight.